Fabricating Face Frames

The basement bar build has been chugging along.  I am embarrassed that I have not posted much on its progress since late November 2011. I would like to start from where I left off and post myself into the current status.  I was thinking of some clever way to express and execute this since I just finished watching Back To The Future.  Wow what a good movie trilogy BTTF was!  The last post I made the carcasses had been cut and assembled. Phil and I had just completed some milling of the walnut that soon became the face frames for my bar.


Face frames are a key component to cabinet making, and this bar takes much inspiration from the world of custom made traditional cabinets.  The face frame does a few things, it covers the raw edges of the carcass, it provides strength to the cabinet, it allows things like doors and drawers to be attached, and it looks dead sexy.  Budget minded cabinets sourced from the Swedish furniture store (my wife is addicted to) typically do not bother with face frames, they simply treat the edges with the same laminate or veneer used for the rest of the cabinet.  Face frames consist of two main components; horizontal rails and vertical stiles.  They can be attached in a number of ways but we chose to use pocket holes.

For my face frames the rails and stiles were attached with wood glue and a really cool tool, check out The Kreg Pocket Hole Jig.  This tool cost approximately $140 and makes perfect pocket holes.  Another thing that Kreg does well is that they sell their own brand of fasteners, and its focused around square drive.  We used Kreg square drive screws for all assembly of the face frames on my bar.  Once you drive a few square drive screws you will not want to go back to standard philips style screws.  The square drive screws stay on the provided bit and appear impossible to strip.  The same definitely can not be said about standard philips style screws, which strip and self destruct the moment you forget to keep the drill driver firmly pressed perpendicular to the screw.  Except on those home improvement shows on HGTV where screws heads never strip.

Sorry I could not keep my manly flannel shirt on for this days woodworking,  I am wearing my Shorts Brewing Co t-shirt comfortably on abnormally warm afternoon (December 26th 2011) in SE Michigan! WTF mother nature?

-Below shows some pocket holes made with our Kreg Pocket Hole Jig.  This piece that we pocket hole-d holds two rails together which frame out my drawers .I have only shown one pic but we used them for all joints on each of the three face frames.


The next step after building up three sets of face frames (one for each of the three carcasses) is attaching the face frames to the carcasses.  For attaching we chose to use biscuit joints.  From a quick look on Wikipedia, biscuit joints are a rather modern way of attaching two pieces of wood, seems this joint was invented in the 1950’s and fisrt portable units were invented in the late 1960’s. The great thing about using biscuits is that each slot made in each side of the wood is larger than the biscuit itself.  This allows some adjustment in position from left to right before the glue cures. If you wanted some adjustment possibilities up and down, you can adjust the biscuit joiners cut position and cut the same spot twice.  We used this technique and got our face frames attached exactly how we wanted.  An interesting thing Phil taught me using this tool was that the biscuits swell when slid into glue filled slots.  We clamped the heck out of our face frames while waiting for the glue to dry, but the swelling of the biscuit itself applies most of the holding force.  Using the biscuit joiner was really fun and is my newly preferred way to attach any two surfaces when alignment is important.  We also used this technique to marry our walnut trim to the shelve front at a later date.

This picture below is a close up of the biscuit joint

The next step was to sand the face frames, glue em and clamp em to the carcasses.

Next step was to apply some protective finish, as mentioned earlier this is my favorite task of woodworking, applying some Danish Oil.  This process takes the beautiful walnut heartwood and turns it into the dead sexy walnut heartwood that my bar is made out of.  From the first second the oil has been applied the wood turns 3D and HD and any other awesome D you can think of.  The oil is really easy to apply and I am using it as a minimalist approach of wood finishing.  No stain used here = My Danish oil is natural finish.

Next Steps -> attach all three face-framed-carcasses to each other, level em, and build a work surface counter top.

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