Questions for Beaded Inset Cabinet Owners

dad4diyApril 28, 2013

We are about to finally do a kitchen remodel and I need to choose a custom cabinet maker for our painted white beaded face frame cabinets. However, I am hearing opposing viewpoints from different craftsmen. If anyone has any experience or knowledge about these questions, I would appreciate it:

1. Some cabinetmakers have a beaded edge that is integrated into the frame itself using a special machine. Essentially, the frame is "one piece". Others glue and nail a separate little bead strip on the frame. I have been told that the integrated type of bead limits the width of the rails and stiles. I have also been told that the separate bead method might show more cracking in a painted cabinet because of the additional joint. Any wisdom to which method is superior?

2. We want to use the exposed barrel style hinges. I have been warned that once mounted, these hinges offer very little adjustment compared to the hidden European style hinge. Anybody have problems with the exposed barrel style hinge down the road?

3. Lastly, are there preferred or "normal" widths for rails and stiles on face frames of inset cabinets?


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I am not totally sure about the pros or cons of #1, but #2, yes, the European hinges offer you the ability to adjust. And often the cabinet doors need adjustment.

But as far as #1, my husband is a cabinetmaker and he often uses the joined method for the bead. Sure, I am sure there may be some small separation, but if you have a quality cabinetmaker there should be very little (or none!).

A tiny tip my husband says you can use in a pinch for small separations on white painted cabinets is a white china marker/pencil.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 10:11AM
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1- I would only offer integrated, know of no downside.
2- depends- the most common exposed hinge can be adjuste though difficult, exposed mortised hinges (higher end) offer much less adjustment but rarely require any. In the long run inset always has very little adjustment since the frame limits it
3-most common are 1-1/2"

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 10:16AM
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I did 2 kitchens in 5 years with custom made beaded inset. Different cab makers and both did a separate joined bead. 1st kit I did put European hinges on and had them removed. This meant having the doors remade because of the drilled area. I found they took up space and in one day skinned more than one knuckle. Plus I like the period look of exposed hinges. 2ond kit I used hand forged wrought iron butterfly hinges. No problems with either.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 10:21AM
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If the applied bead is properly glued on, there is no downside, as it is possible to do a better consistent job that way than to miter the bead that had been run into solid stock. Unless the shop has some very expensive tool for doing this. I have built both with hand tools. The applied bead is easier. There can be additional reasons (joinery) to use applied bead. I would not throw out a bid because of it either way.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 12:22PM
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Thanks for the responses. I was a little leery of this tiny little strip of wood lasting for a long time. I felt the integrated method was probably more durable, but if an applied bead is as common is you folks suggest, I can leave that out of my decision.

As far as the hinges go, have those of you that have exposed hinges ever had the doors stick? We live in Wisconsin and the humidity changes between summer and winter are quite dramatic.


    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 11:36PM
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With the gaps that the cabinetmakers allow between FF and door, I've never had them expand so much that they touch.
The potential problem isn't limited to butt hinges, the shrinkage & expansion is a material issue pertaining to solid wood.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 8:27AM
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If a cabinetmaker had the appropriate machinery ( Morso & Hoffman ) for integral beads on their frames they would use it every time.

There is only one reason to do an applied bead and that is that the company has not made the adequate investment in machinery.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 1:22PM
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Are you implying that an applied bead is inferior to an integrated one? What drawbacks have you personally experienced with the applied bead installations?

Much appreciated.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 6:23PM
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Yes, I am.
In theory there is no difference ( in terms of looks between the two ), in practice there are many.

An integral bead will always be in plane ( its position will always be perfect ). The highest point of the arc of the bead is typically set .03" from the face of the face frame. This way the frame can be sanded without flattening the top of the bead. When you apply a loose bead by hand it is difficult to line up the bead accurately every time. So inevitably some beads will sit proud and be flattened and other times it sits too low, so it can look "wavy".

Also, when you make beading, you are s4s ing stock and routing/shaping both sides of a stick and then ripping a 5/16" width off either edge. This leaves two long bowed beads. When you rip stock on a saw you release stresses in the wood. You never get perfectly parallel sides. You might get consistency from the first rip but you wont from the second. What this means is that you end up putting an imperfect bead on a face frame. What this means is that the step that is part of the profile will be irregular , the gap between the bead and the edge of the face frame will differ along its length.

Also, most guys I know attach applied beads with pins and glue. The reason for the gap that might exist between the bead and the face frame is the lack of consistent clamping force. The pins will only hold the bead to the face frame in the immediate area where they are shot.

Then all the holes have to filled. The filler must not shrink also.

I would say that the average person would not mind all of these things but a cabinetmaker definitely would and you would never get away with an applied bead on an architectural job.

If you are picky then I would go for the integral.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 7:13PM
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Are you doing individual boxes for the cabinets? Would having an integrated bead cause there to be a splice along the stile? Even if that is not an issue I guess it all comes down to price point with the integrated being more costly and the final "look" being hardly different. But i truly believe a quality craftsman can do an applied bead with great result. But integrated is superior.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 8:29PM
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An integral bead done properly does not cause a splice. I always combine cabinets when designing inset, no problem. Only issue is how big they let me spec it (varies with frame construction), and of course moving them around.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 9:41PM
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The summary seems to be that both will look good and will last, but integrated is a little better quality and probably costs more. I will see how my final bids come out. Thanks for all the input. This is our first time ordering cabinets, and the decision are endless. I don't want to make too many mistakes with such a large purchase.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 11:58PM
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