Sanity Check for Frameless, Upper, Kitchen, Cabinet Design

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Forum topic by gmaffPappy posted 08-19-2020 08:14 PM 356 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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91 posts in 2909 days

08-19-2020 08:14 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question mahogany planer bandsaw router tablesaw sander plane jointer clamp finishing joining sanding

I’m working on my design for a new kitchen, and I wanted to bounce this design off someone. Since I have no friends that WW, I’m bouncing it off all of you.

I want frameless upper cabinets. I want to do it all in hardwood (no ply/mdf).

My solution is to make sections of rail, style, & panels then join them up. Basically, it becomes a big dresser that will hang on the wall with French cleats.

I’m just concerned it won’t hold the weight. My thoughts are particularly aimed at racking due to sag.

The whole thing, except the bottom back rail (4/4 stock), will be made of 3/4 African Mahogany. Each of the main panel’s rails and stiles will be 3/4×8/4. Their panels will be 2/4 thick. The cabinet’s depth will be 16” (4” more than standard). The long side is almost 11’. The short side is almost 5’.

The lower portion is standard cabinet height. The upper portion will extend to the ceiling. Not much weight will be on the top. It will have glazed doors with decorations and lighting.

All the joinery will be done with the s Festool DOMINO DF 500.

My largest concern is the weight from all my ”kitchen crap” (pans, bowels, plates, glasses/cups, cookware….etc.) I’ll fill it with.

The plan is to make the door frames with Curly Maple, and the panels out of bookend Curly Cherry.


-- If it's easy to do, you haven't spent enough time over engineering it.

3 replies so far

View Robert's profile


4032 posts in 2359 days

#1 posted 08-21-2020 10:57 AM

Couldn’t help but notice you’re signature belies what you’re attempting? You’re instincts are correct this is not going to be a structurally sound design.

You say you want frameless cabs but what you’ve got there is not even cabinet construction, it’s frame and panel furniture methods.

Sorry. It you can’t build a frameless cab without using plywood (what’s your aversion to plywood?). Do the end caps as a raised panel to match the doors. Build units, not one large unit.

And 16” is too deep for an upper.

Just my opinion not a professional but I’ve built a ton of frameless cabs.

I recommend the frameless cab book by Danny Proulx.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View xedos's profile


102 posts in 178 days

#2 posted 08-22-2020 04:17 AM

My thoughts are that this is insane.

Why are you trying to re-invent the wheel ?

I love the contrast the two woods bring , but the rest of it is daft. Solid wood moves a lot more than sheet goods, It’s not a good choice for kitchen cabinet carcasses. Especially when doing inset doors. I also don’t think your design has enough depth for the mounting plates that euro hinges use. You’re also going to have a hell of a time keeping the 5mm shelf holes aligned in that design. The doors in the top boxes are gonna sag under their own weight if you hinge them left and right.

View DS's profile


3570 posts in 3298 days

#3 posted 08-26-2020 04:38 AM

That’s a lot of frames for a “frameless” cabinet.

BTW, we do 16” uppers everyday (to the front of the door).
Our builders love them.

What your design is missing is the ability to carry a sheer load off the wall.
You would need some sort of gusset, or bracket, to accomplish that.

What is wrong with plywood for this?

Maybe you could find some 1950’s era lumber core plywood as a compromise?

Also, just an observation that your sketch looks a lot like inset face frame cabinets to me.

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

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