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This cabinet style is also known as “European” since it originated in Europe.  The cabinets of a frameless type do not have a face frame.  The construction of the cabinets is more simple in that the boxes are simply edgebanded on the front edge with a thin veneer of wood or plastic that will match the door species.  This edge is not that visible when the cabinets are installed because most of the door overlays it.  The doors have concealed hinges mounted on them (bored into the frame of the door, in the back of course) and they’re connected to the cabinet interior with a hinge plate as shown on the left.

Hinge Plate

Notice the cabinet on the left that you cannot see the box edges of the cabinet because the doors and drawer fronts cover the cabinet.  This is normally referred to as a “full overlay”.  In order to allow for clearance of the boxes from the adjacent walls a “filler” is installed.  This serves several functions.  It allows the drawer fronts to not scrape the wall and allows the installer some leeway in walls that are not completely plumb and straight, so he can “scribe” the filler to the wall.  

One advantage of frameless is that it creates a little more storage room than a face frame cabinet because there are no frame rails between doors or drawer fronts.  But it is a more limiting construction method in that there’s design limitations to it.  This will probably be more apparent when you read of the other styles or methods as below.

This style is the most commonly known and seen although frameless has been fairly popular in the last 10 or so years.

It’s fairly obvious why Face Frame is called that- there is a 3/4” thick wood frame fixed to the box of the cabinet.  The horizontal pieces are called “rails” and and the vertical pieces are called “stiles”.  When the doors are mounted on the cabinet the usual method is to use a hinge plate attached to the frame as shown on the left.  The door overlays the frame normally 1/2” (which is called a 1/2” overlay).   Typically the stiles and rails of the frame are 1 1/2” - 2” wide.  Because the doors and drawer fronts overlay the frame 1/2” there is a “reveal” between them of 1/2” to 1”.  This reveal is visible and becomes part of the look of the cabinetry.  I prefer 1/2” reveals if possible as there is less waste of cabinet space and I just like the look.  But if you are doing “fingerpull” doors you need 1” reveals to open the doors with your finger.  I don’t see this fingerpull method done much these days, because most people prefer hardware - knobs or pulls

Again, I prefer this method for the design flexibility it allows.

There are some cabinets in a kitchen which are difficult to make in frameless and make more sense in the face frame method.  Such as a refrigerator enclosure or an open shelf cabinet or even a cabinet with a microwave or oven.  Installation is somewhat less complicated as well.

Face Frame Overlay


1/8” reveals
1” reveal

This style varies from the above in that the doors and drawer fronts do not overlay the face frame- they are inside the frame, sometimes called “flush inset”.  I prefer Face Frame Inset as this still says it’s a face frame construction.  With the door inside the frame there is a gap of approximately 3/32” all around.  This requires more work in the shop because of the exact fit of the the doors and drawer fronts.  It’s a very clean look and looks very “craftsman” or “artisan”.  Again, a hidden hinge is normally used but sometimes a “pin” hinge is preferred to give it more detail and and older look.  See the photos below.

Note the “pin” hinge for some added detail.

These require a magnet to hold the door closed.  Or some other “catch”.

Face Frame Inset

Face Frame Inset with Bead

This really is just a subcategory of Face Frame Inset, as it only varies by the bead detail added to the inside of the face frame.  This style adds even more time to the construction but it is an extremely nice look.

Bead Detail
3/4” thick
Frame stile
3/4” thick
Frame rail

1 1/2” stile and rails

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Edgebanded (veneer)

Our most common way is to still use hidden hinges on Inset doors.  Then a stop is added for the door to close on (the door is held closed by the soft-closing hinge.)

Wood “stop” for door

This is from one page of our booklet:  “The Ins & Outs of Cabinetry- A  Guide”

For even more explanation of the different cabinet types read below: