Sommerfield Cabinetmaking Set

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Review by closetguy posted 01-16-2010 05:26 AM 8981 views 8 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Sommerfield Cabinetmaking Set Sommerfield Cabinetmaking Set No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

There are 100 different ways to build cabinets. Everyone has their own method that works well for them, and there is really no wrong way as long as they are square and sturdy. The goal is to be able to build them as quickly as possible, without compromising quality. I’m in the middle of a large cabinet job and decided to take a break this afternoon to document this little bit set that I have found invaluable in making my cabinets.

Sommerfield Tools has a lot of high quality router bits that help turn difficult jobs into pleasant ones. I have been using the Sommerfield Cabinetmaking router bit set for about four years to build kitchen cabinets, entertainment centers, and many different built-in projects requiring face frame construction. The three bit set is $109 and consists of a matched tongue and groove set and a trim bit for trimming the tongue off corners for certain joints. I also bought their Cabinetmaking Made Easy DVD which is one of the best cabinet making instructional lessons I have ever seen. It also contains detail instructions for making raised panel doors and drawers. It is well worth the $10.

The difference between this bit set and a standard tongue and groove set is that the tongue bit is offset so that there is more “meat” available on one side for pocket screws to bite into. The set is matched in height so as long as the bits are placed in the router collet at the same depth each time, the joints will always mate up exactly. Sommerfield recommends dropping a rubber grommet into the bottom of the collet to make sure they bottom out to the same depth when changing bits. I use a short wood dowel, which works just as good. As a side note, the bits in my pictures are orange. They have since run out of orange paint and are now shipping them in yellow.

The first time I used the set, I had to make some test cuts at different bit heights to get the offset where they recommended. I then used the test piece as a setup block for future quick setup. I always have my rails and stiles cut to length and sanded before I start the milling process.

To start, just install the first bit and flush the bearing to the fence.

The first step is to run the ¼” groove on all the face frame rails and stiles.

After the face frames are done, the plywood or MDF sides, tops, and bottoms are run through the tongue bit.

This is a finished side, fitted into the stile. Notice the tongue offset. One thing worth noting is that the edge of the stile is 1/32” proud of the plywood side. In other words, they don’t sit exactly flush. This is a good thing because it eliminates the sides from interfering with butting the stiles together. It is also very easy to move the side panel further away from the stile edge by varying the groove bit height. I prefer to do this at the end of a cabinet run where the cabinet butts to a wall. It eliminates an out of square wall keeping the cabinet (or stile) from butting flush to the wall.

The next step is to drill pocket holes in the plywood. The screws can be put in on either side depending on what side is going to be seen. Pocket hole screws are not required if you prefer to glue and clamp, but they eliminate having to clamp and wait for the glue to dry. Once screwed and assembled, I can continue working with the cabinet if necessary without having clamps in my way or worrying about knocking the cabinet out of square.

During final assembly, I spread glue into the groove and follow up with pocket hole screws.

As I mentioned earlier, I have tried different methods over the years, but this is what I finally settle on for it’s speed and simplicity.

-- I don't make mistakes, only design

View closetguy's profile


744 posts in 4660 days

5 comments so far

View PurpLev's profile


8572 posts in 4417 days

#1 posted 01-16-2010 06:22 AM

Thanks for the review, this seems like it’ll make aligning and getting those face frames where they are supposed to be fairly easy day in day out.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 4692 days

#2 posted 01-16-2010 06:55 AM

Nice write up, I have had the 5 pc for about 4 years now I could not pass up the price I got them at a wood working show. I have not had a chance to use all of them yet because I don’t care for the door profile and its a little scary to swing all that steel. I take it the last picture is the stile, do you see the pocket hole when the door is open or do you fill them?

View woodsmithshop's profile


1411 posts in 4314 days

#3 posted 01-16-2010 05:18 PM

good review, I like this method of construction, I have used pocket screws but not the t&g,that should make alignment much easier and more accurate, plus stronger. great job.

-- Smitty!!!

View closetguy's profile


744 posts in 4660 days

#4 posted 01-16-2010 06:25 PM

One of the good things about face frame construction using this method is that it is easy to build a perfectly square face frame which forces the rest of the components to fall into square during assembly.

-- I don't make mistakes, only design

View a1Jim's profile


118065 posts in 4345 days

#5 posted 01-16-2010 06:58 PM

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