When Designing a Cabinet it Should be Frameless

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Blog entry by CalOrgill posted 08-03-2017 02:04 PM 871 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Okay Guys

Lets get down to business. I am in the process of designing a few night stands and a custom dresser to go with the bed that I recently build for myself.

Face frame or Frameless??

I have decided to go frameless even though my cabinet will be less structurally sound. A traditional cabinet is not efficient. the cabinet is big and bulky. There is at least 3/4” more of wood all the way around the entire project for no reason. It takes more time to build cut and sand. it also makes unneeded surfaces that need to sanded and prepped perfectly because it is on the very front of your new cabinet.

Saves on wood

Saves on time

Saves on room

Cabinet is easy to move

Cabinet is more accessible

-- Cal

10 comments so far

View firefighterontheside's profile


20434 posts in 2304 days

#1 posted 08-03-2017 02:52 PM

I agree with everything you said, but I don’t like the look of frameless cabinets. Everything I build for myself will have a frame, because I want it to look nice. If someone wants to pay me to make something frameless, I’m all for it.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View GR8HUNTER's profile


6319 posts in 1160 days

#2 posted 08-03-2017 02:59 PM

in our custom cabinet shop we did more frameless then framed cabinets roughly about 90/10% it all boils down to the look you want and the doors /drawers you pick :<))

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

View Greg the Cajun Wood Artist's profile

Greg the Cajun Wood Artist

482 posts in 1389 days

#3 posted 08-03-2017 03:10 PM

When I build something for either myself or anyone else I use a framed structure. i am not concerned about ‘saving this or saving that’ ... I want something that is enjoyable and fun to create and visually appealing. I love the process of building things and have never liked a frameless cabinet…my personal taste…

-- Wood for projects is like a good Fart..."better when you cut it yourself"

View Redoak49's profile


4100 posts in 2436 days

#4 posted 08-03-2017 03:34 PM

For kitchen cabinets or shop cabinets the frameless Euro style is fine. For furniture, face frames look better.

I do not do much sanding on the frames. If assembled properly, there should not be that much sanding.

View DS's profile


3226 posts in 2867 days

#5 posted 08-03-2017 04:07 PM

It is hard for me to argue for, or against, either of these options. Having built thousands of both types, it comes down to style preferences for me.

Each has its Pros and Cons, but each are structurally sound. Both will pass the AWI, KCMA and other standards of construction, for example.

It is a style preference I think.
It depends upon the look and feel you’re going for in the piece.

I’m no longer a big fan of overlay face frame cabinets, though I came up through the woodworking ranks building lots and lots and lots of them. (Did I mention there were lots of them?)

I much prefer the clean tight reveals between doors that the frameless construction gives.
Often, I will use thick applied finished ends to bulk up the look if needed, but in furniture, often, less is more and I will just veneer an end panel.

Currently, if I use faceframe construction, it will likely be an open display cabinet, or perhaps, a beaded-inset piece with reproduction finial hinges.

The rest of the time, frameless does it for me. (Better hinging options, IMHO)

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View Rich's profile


4676 posts in 1036 days

#6 posted 08-03-2017 04:52 PM

It doesn’t have to be less sound. You can easily use sliding dovetails for your joinery which will hold things together mechanically. It also prevents bowing, but be sure to allow for wood movement†. Also, I assume it’ll have a back, so that will inhibit racking. You can also put corner blocks in the back corners for even more rigidity.

† Credit to Charles Neil’s excellent DVDs for the dovetail idea.

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

View Dutchy's profile


3406 posts in 2615 days

#7 posted 08-03-2017 07:30 PM

What are frames? :)


View 000's profile


2859 posts in 1346 days

#8 posted 08-03-2017 07:42 PM

Contemporary style is in right now so a lot of what I have been building is European Style.

But I don’t build frameless for any of the reasons the OP listed:
Saves on wood
Saves on time
Saves on room
Cabinet is easy to move
Cabinet is more accessible

I build whatever the design calls for.
Adjusting your design so that you don’t have as much to sand,
well, IDK what to say, but to each their own I guess.

View htl's profile


4758 posts in 1606 days

#9 posted 08-04-2017 12:11 AM

I’m an old school cabinet maker so face frames for me.

-- An Index Of My Model making Blogs

View Dutchy's profile


3406 posts in 2615 days

#10 posted 08-05-2017 09:01 PM

I m an old school cabinet maker so face frames for me.

- htl

Thanks htl. I was cheating a bit. Your second picture shows a europeen and american style. And that American style has his originates in Europe isn’t it. Here you don’t see a lot of framed furniture anymore, and when will america follow? Isn’t it that you are using metric for small parts? ;)


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