Face Frame Finishing Tips

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When a face frame cabinet has been built from melamine or a similar material, you need to make sure that you don’t get stain and sealer on the melamine while you’re applying finish to the face frame. The solution is very easy. It’s all about prefinishing, but you have to take care with the finish to make sure you have a glue bond between the face frame and the front of the case. Check out the solution to this problem.

Discussion
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15 Responses to “Face Frame Finishing Tips”
  1. sawandsew

    George, You said that glue doesn’t stick to melamine well, how did you secure the face frame onto the melamine? Did you have to scuff the melamine first?

    Reply
    • WWGOA Team

      The melamine coating is only on the face of the pieces. The edges of the melamine are raw particle board.

      Reply
  2. Ted

    You said no problem with glue on the melamine because glue doesn’t stick to melamine. Does that mean that gluding the face frame to the melamine will not be a strong joint?

    Reply
    • WWGOA Team

      Hi, Ted! Glue won’t stick to the melamine face, but will stick to the raw particle board edge the face frame is being glued to.

      Reply
  3. jwoodworke@aol.com

    But George, what happened to what you do on one side of a project, you should do on the other side, to prevent warping. e.g., 3 coats of poly on one side needs 3 coat of poly on the other side. I think the reasoning was uneven escape of moisture in the wood causes warpage. Are you thinking that because the faceface is secured to the carcass, that my point is moot?

    Reply
    • WWGOA Team

      If I were making a table top I’d follow the finish-both-sides rule to the letter. On narrow face frame stock, it doesn’t matter.

      Reply
    • WWGOA Team

      Hi, Pauyl! I use glue only to attach face frames. No nails, no biscuits. I’ve never had the glue joint fail.

      Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi, Robert. If your face frames are large enough to accept a biscuit, this is an acceptable option. I occasionally build them using FF size biscuits which are specific to a Porter Cable biscuit joiner.

      Reply
  4. Barry

    Melamine edges are usually made of a very poor particle board material so do you actually only use yellow glue? Is it a special glue? Since the particle board material is usually kind of crumbly it is surprising that no finishing nails up front, or pocket screws or biscuits from behind are used. Also since you have never had a joint fail or face frame warp because of only applying finish to one side you have caused so many of us to feel like we have been wasting our time doing it the other way. Thanks for preventing us from losing more time. :o)

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi, Barry. There is a lot of glue in particle board, but there is plenty of wood as well. Therefore it works fine as a glue surface. You’ll find the same thing with veneer plywood edges. In terms of the face frames, you can get away with finishing on one side because they are not very wide, so the uneven moisture exposure doesn’t cause problems. If you are finishing a large panel such as a table top, that is an entirely different matter, and I’ve seen several situations where woodworkers do not finish both sides evenly and it causes extreme problems. It’s similar to cross-grain joinery. You can get away with it in small doses, like a typical mortise and tenon joint on a table apron to leg joint. But if you start to bind wood in a cross grain joint over 6″, you are increasing the likelihood of problems.

      Reply
  5. Donald Delaney

    I work in a cabinet shop for several years and we always dadoed the face frame . I don’t like the idea of just gluing your wood to particleboard . I think if I wasn’t going to use a dado I might put a pocket hole or so on the inside .

    Reply
  6. Steve

    So how am I supposed to watch the video if all I see is a stupid ad?!? Every time I try to hit play it just takes me to a Vicks web page. This is a dumb page.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

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Tags: cabinetmaking, face frames, Free Videos, melamine cabinets