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Face Frame Tips

Since all of our Shelf Help panels come with a finished front edge, a face frame is not required.  But a face frame can add considerable strength to keep your project from racking side to side, and the face frame can be a desireable design element.

What is a Face Frame?

A face frame is a frame of wood boards, usually in a hardwood species, that is fixed to the front of a cabinet, to finish plywood edges, add strength to the cabinet, and is sometimes used for attaching drawers and doors to it.

  • The face frame sides should run the full height of the project, so no butt end of a board is visible from the side
  • Measure and cut to fit the remaining face frame boards for a perfect fit.
  • For a strong and professional look, build the face frame first on a flat level surface with pocket holes, then attach the completed face frame to the front of the project with 1-1/4" brad nails and glue.
  • Use the face frame to make sure your cabinet is square.
  • The entire front of the cabinet does not need to be face framed - you can add trim at just the sides, or a perimeter with the middle shelves and dividers without any face framing.
  • Kitchen cabinets are commonly made with 1x2 face frames, to work with standard cabinet door hinges
  • You can mix in different width face frame boards to achieve different looks - for example, a 1x4 board is shown as a header and footer in the above diagram, with 1x2s running vertical.