Framed frameless cabinets? And dark oak to boot?

deedlesJune 3, 2013

Stopped by a local woodworker shop today looking for a bench. Found a huge store full of very nicely made cabinets and shelves and hutches, etc.

In talking to the guy, he showed me that he makes framed cabinets but keeps the face frame at 1", which is the same as the sides of the cabinet box. He said he builds all his cabinets that way as he thinks the frame wastes too much space. Singing to the choir on that one, he was. No disrespect intended to framed cabinets in general, but I only have 7 base cabs so space is a premium for me. I thought I remembered Jakuvall saying something about strength for the countertop being in the frame?

Has anyone got framed cabs that are 'frameless' because the frame is narrow?

I'm asking because he just happens to build kitchen cabinets too, and is about 2 miles away from my house. Go figure. 100 buck a running foot with drawers AND full extension accuride glides.

Oh, and if anyone that has been reading my posts about cabinets and wood type and color, for the last year is here... DH just informed me that the couple of one and two inch thick oak boards that I thought he had is actually more like 25 and more than enough to build the cabinets out of, which this guy will do which will save us some cha-ching, too. Ha. Ha. I thought it was all crappy pine. "H* no!" DH says. "That's all nice, clear oak because I cut it and made sure it was. That's why I've been dragging it around for 25 years." Hmm. Go figure.

Regular cut oak hasn't been my first choice (rift or quarter sawn is awesome) but wondering if a dark stained oak with the right drawer fronts might look nice. The price would be right, that's for sure.

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Holly- Kay

I had golden oak cabinets for 17 years that I hated, but I think it was the color and not the oak because when DD was looking at different kitchen cabinets the one that I fell in love with was oak. It was beautiful and had a medium to dark stain.

I would say jump on the chance for a lovely kitchen at a great price. I have seen several oak kitchens here that are just beautiful. One of the things that I love about GW is seeing beautiful kitchens in many different woods and painted surfaces.

Good luck and I will be watching for pics when you are under way!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 6:25PM
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Here are some that I found in a quick houzz search that I think look really nice. Stained walnut.

Modern Kitchen by Acworth Interior Designers & Decorators Studio Design Elements

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 6:29PM
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I love oak and think a dark stain would look great, and that price can't be beat. I'm another who's lived in a few too many places with cheap builder-grade honey oak, but was converted to the beauties of dark-stained oak when we stained our white oak floors. The medium-dark stain mix we used brings out a lovely warm aged feeling to the wood.

Can't wait to see pics if you decide to use this cabinet maker.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 7:03PM
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Holly- Kay

Deedles, they are absolutely stunning. The stain is just perfect. They look very much like the ones I saw when cabinet shopping with DD! Wow, I love them!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 7:21PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Well, I've never seen cabinets with 1" thick sides as it's pretty hard (and expensive) to find plywood in that size. 3/4", sure. 3/4" cabinet grade is about $110 a sheet from the right lumberyard here. Framed cabinets though, usually use anywhere from 3/8" to 3/4" for the sides, because the strength is in the face frame. So, if you reduced the face frame, you would have to beef up the sides. Still, 1" is overkill.

If the cabinet maker has the surface planer and joiners etc. that he should instead of buying the doors elsewhere (you'd be surprised at how many "custom" guys do that) then looks like he could use your lumber. But 25 boards won't be nearly enough for the average sized kitchen if you are doing reverse raised panel doors. You might be able to do a section from your wood, but since it's aged, the grains may not be consistent with the newer wood that you will need. You could do an individual and different section from it, like an island or china hutch, or even a new kitchen table. (and then do the rest in paint?) Especially since this guy does furniture.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 8:01PM
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Hey Deedles, it has been a while since I have seen you post. I don't know if I have framed, frameless cabinets. I am not really sure what that means.
I do know that I really wanted frameless because of the space benefits. I know that my cabinet maker didn't want to make me frameless he said he could make a better cabinet with a frame and still get me the space I wanted. He did!
My cabinets are full overlay which is what I wanted. The frame is modified and minimized. There is no 'lip' in cabinets with doors.
I love my cabinets and I may be "in love" with my cabinet maker and his crew! I can provide any pictures you want, let me know.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 9:34PM
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I think the boards are about 10 feet long and at least 10 or 12 inches wide. Well, maybe if they wouldn't be enough he could at least use them for the drawer fronts and doors and use new oak for the face frames? I guess we'll have to have him come and check them out and measure up the kitchen when the time comes. Thinking I'll be going with a modified slab...maybe with a bit of edge detail and something simple for the sink cab doors.

He says that he generally uses furniture board for the boxes but said if I wanted plywood he'd do that. Do you think 3/4" plywood with 1" face framing would suffice for strength?

I didn't ask him if he made his own doors and drawers... didn't think that he wouldn't but I will definitely find out. What's the point of using our wood if he doesn't? Thanks Hollysprings, you've given me a few questions to ask.

zeebee and hollykay: That pic look even better on my computer now that I'm home. Those are really pretty and I will definitely be posting pics if ever there are pics to be posted.


    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 9:48PM
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Hey localeater! Yes, I haven't been in kitchen mode for a little while, other things pressing down but just today had my happy (I hope) visit with the cabinet guy so thought I'd throw a question out there.

What do you have for counters again? Do you remember what the cab boxes are made from e.g. 3/4" plywood? I'd love to see any pics you have to show. Have you any with a door open so as to show the frame?

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 10:26PM
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Without doing precise math, a 12" base cabinet with 1" face frame with slab doors would be about 7 linear feet of lumber with toekick. Close to 10 if you do a shaker style door.

A true 10' 2x12" board will give you 20 linear feet of lumber. So enough for approx. two 12" cabinets or one 24" cabinet. Our boards started as 16' and after kiln drying, some had to be cut down 2' to cut out split ends. A rough sawn 2x12" board will yield one 1.5x11.5" board. If you cut those in half to make 1"x you'll end up a hair under 3/4" boards. Those are approximate figures, but you might want to keep that in mind if you have a large kitchen. You should be able to get quite a few cabinets out of that lumber though!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 10:41PM
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Oooo thanks mrsmortarmixer! Math and I'm impressed. I'm thinking we should have enough since I only have 14 linear feet of base cabs. And as I said before, if he does the drawers and doors with our wood and uses new for the frames that'd be fine, too. I'm wanting full overlay anyway, so the face frames really don't factor in too much.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 10:48PM
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I am glad you are back thinking kitchen. I checked my kitchen folder and the cabinets are 3/4" maple plywood. My counters are brushed Madre Pearla quartzite with which I am still very much in love.
I took 2 pictures for you this morning, usual disclaimers about my terrible photography skills. If you want me to pull the drawers out of the box and take a picture that way I can after work tonight.
Cabinet door open
From GW Photos

Drawers open
From GW Photos

This post was edited by localeater on Tue, Jun 4, 13 at 6:58

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 6:55AM
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Nice. Thank you for the pics.

Obviously your cabinets are holding up your countertop without any issues then, even with the reduced frame? I'm glad you weighed in, I feel better now about the strength issue. Now I have to find out if he makes his own doors :)

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 7:03AM
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My husband built our old entertainment system with a reduced face frame - just slightly wider than the 3/4" plywood sides and it held up for decades. When we replaced it with cherry cabinets in the family room redo, the entertainment system cabinets went to our kids. These didn't have a countertop but they were 7' tall so they had plenty of weight to hold.

Even with a narrow frame, you will loose space between drawers if the frame goes between each pair of drawers as is typical in framed cabinets. In the entertainment system my DH built, the face frame only went around the edge and between the drawer and door sections. There was no frame between each set of drawers which saves a lot of wasted space.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 10:38AM
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Pretty much what Hollysprings said...

Deedles- to clarify. Frames provide the structure for framed cabinets which allows the sides to be thinner and the connection of the box to the frame less robust. They don't do much to support the counter since all loads go to the floor and the frames don't.

Frameless cabinets structure comes from the box. They are stiffer because of the basic construction techniques combined with typically thicker sides. A frameless cabinet does function more as a unit than a framed. Extremely difficult to twist for instance.

In both cases the counter is first supported by the wall where cabinets are attached at the back,
secondly by the sides which go to the floor.

At the front: the frame or in the case of frameless the struts only work against the bending moment of the stone. Yes there a bending moment which is why overhang limits exist and why we often have rodding installed at sinks and dishwashers.
Actually the strut on frameless cabinet offers little support across the opening at the front.

I've on occasion specked a cabinet here and there with a 1" rail, usually an undercounter oven, have rarely had to have it rodded- up to granite guy.

The biggest reason 1-1/2" wide rails and stiles are used is to combat deformation- twist, warp, cup.

Using: better seasoning, 1/2" (or even 3/4" but not needed) sides, stronger joinery of box to frame (important) , and better frame construction (dowels or mortise and tenon) can solve most of that; allowing for narrower rails and stiles.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 10:48AM
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Cloudswift: that would be nice to have no dividers, or, minimal dividers if needed for strength. Thank you for the pics, I'll clip this thread so I can show the cabinet guy.

Jakuvall: Okay, I guess I was misunderstanding the framed/strength/load topic. It makes sense that it is the sides... like studs in the wall support the roof, sort of?

So, here is my list of questions for him thus far:

1. Can we use 3/4" plywood (or furniture board *see below) for the sides.
2. How do you attach the frame to the box.
3. How is the box constructed.
4. Can we minimize the horizontal rails between drawers (or lose all but the one under the top drawer)

Ummm. Anything else I should ask. Any red flag answers to look out for? I really appreciate this help from you all.

*Do you think furniture board is okay? He called it MDF but I assume he means furniture board but I guess that I shouldn't assume. He did say "it's not particle board, it's really strong" which led me to believe it was furniture board. I do worry about the off-gassing issue, though, if it still is an issue. He seemed to be of the opinion that American made furniture board didn't have much of a problem with that due to regulations.

I'm going to give him a buzz later today. I'll wait to see if anyone has anymore suggestions for things I should ask then I'll report back with the answers.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 12:22PM
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Just throwing in my $.02 worth. I suspect when the cabinet guy said a 1" face frame is the same size as the box edge, he's talking about two 1/2" cabinets side by side. Otherwise he'd need a 2" face frame where cabinets meet if he was using 1" material for the boxes.

For oak, I would suggest asking the cabinet guy if he fills the grain. I suspect part of what many don't like about oak is the large open grain that's sunken below the surface. This can be rectified with a grain filler. Grain filler is completely different from wood filler, and really should be used for any open grain wood. It will bring the surface of the grain up to the same level as the surrounding wood and give you a smooth, flat finished surface which will look much more professional than unfilled oak. You can fill the grain in a way that either accentuates or minimizes the look of the grain. Combine that with a dark stain and I think you'll like the results.

Here is a link that might be useful: wood grain filler

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 12:47PM
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"He called it MDF but I assume he means furniture board"

He meant MDF :-)

MDF is the proper term, "furniture board" is consumer slang which does not refer any specific product at the lumberyard.

There are different grades of MDF and particle board. MDF is good stuff these days and I personally chose it for my own cabinets and use it in my woodworking when there isn't a specific need for plywood. For outgassing concerns I would choose American-made MDF over Chinese-made plywood any day of the week.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 12:54PM
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Chiefneil: thanks for the 2 cents... if you're still around, could I ask you to look at the pic that I posted higher up in the thread and tell me if you think the grain was filled on those cabinets? It seems like I can see some high and low parts but not sure on that.

Another question to ask him. Thanks!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 2:56PM
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1-might as well make a frameless cabinet, 1/2" is fine for framed, furniture board is a mfg term for particle board used to connote better grades and avoid dirty words, some consumers and even many designers use "mdf" incorrectly to refer to particle, unlikely a maker would mix terms.
Nothing wrong with either.

In most cases mdf is only better for some situations with foils, paint, veneer- mostly on doors. My kitchen is particle (furniture) frameless. Personally I'd take it over mdf for cabinets, note that my table saw extension/router table is mdf but that is different, but that is quibbling.

Outgassing- he is correct, will be CARB 2 compliant at least. There is NAUF (no added urea formaldehyde) available in all engineered woods.

2 & 3- really well ;-) more than one way possible have him show you.

4- I do it all the time on insets, most often I leave top,bottom, and first drawer rail.

Aside- have done several oak projects with richer colors and lt to mid toned glaze that I rather liked.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 3:46PM
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Fori is not pleased

First off, oak is pretty. Use it if you've got it!

When I had cabinets made for my last kitchen, the cab guy was a framed guy. But I had a small kitchen and didn't want no stinking framed cabinets. On the other hand, I liked this guy's work. So the cabinets ended up kinda frameless, kinda framed. Really, they were framed but in such large units that there wasn't much frame. No frames between drawers, for instance. And smaller face frames where required. Also no stiles--extra shelves instead so I wouldn't be tempted to overload long shelves that had no central support. No photos because GW doesn't let me.

Anyway yeah. Framed vs frameless isn't as black and white as we sometimes discuss it here. There are a lot of variations.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 4:41PM
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