The Trades

Research, insights and advice from craftsmen and industry experts

Face Frame vs. Frameless Cabinets: Which Is Right for Your Cabinet Build?

cabinetry carpentry Mar 04, 2021

There are two main categories of cabinet construction—face frame (or simply “framed”) and frameless. Both are functional construction methods with different advantages, so the choice is largely about what works for you. 

Face frame cabinets are built with a frame on the front of the cabinet where the cabinet doors will rest. Frameless cabinets are built without a frame so that when you look at the face of a frameless cabinet build, you will simply see the edges of the cabinet box. 

What is a face framed cabinet?

Face frame cabinets do exactly that—they provide a frame for the face of the cabinet where all of the doors will attach and rest when they are closed. They are constructed with a frame that is attached to the front of the cabinet box and looks like a picture frame around the cabinet opening. Typically there is also a center stile running through the cabinet box so that when both the left and right doors are closed, there is no gap between...

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Rabbet Joints: What They Are and How to Cut Them

cabinetry carpentry Mar 04, 2021

Rabbets and dados are some of the most common ways to join together two pieces of wood in cabinet making, and they can be cut using a dado blade on a table saw like the step-by-step method below. 

Don’t let the blade name confuse you—a dado blade, or dado stack, is used to cut both dados and rabbets. You’ll also often hear carpenters use the phrase “dado out” which refers to how the dado blade carves a recess into the material no matter which type of joint you are making.

What is a rabbet joint?

A rabbet is a recess cut into the edge of a workpiece. The piece that extrudes is called the tongue. A rabbet joint is the result of joining a rabbet to another piece of wood, typically to construct shelving and cabinet boxes. Rabbet joints are great for building drawers, cabinets, and lighter items like a picture frame. They can be cut with a table saw, table mounted router, or hand held router with a rabbet bit or straight bit.

A rabbet joint is stronger...

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What Is a Means of Egress?

blueprints Mar 03, 2021

It might not be the first thing you think about when contemplating a building, but the paths out of it—in the language of architects and contractors, the means of egress—are key features of every structure, and they must be designated in commercial blueprints. They shape its design and are central to safely evacuating a building during a fire or other emergency. They are also the subject of an entire chapter (specifically, chapter 10) of the International Building Code, or IBC—the basis of building codes in all 50 states.

The Three Parts of Egress

The IBC has specific definitions for three terms related to egress that contractors should know: exit, exit access, and exit discharge. (These terms are all defined in section 202 of the IBC.) 

  1. Exit access: This refers to the path to an exit—the route that leads to the exit stairways and horizontal exits, which lead to separate areas protected (say by a fire door) from a room where there is a hazard. 
  2. ...
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What Is a Butt Hinge?

cabinetry carpentry Mar 03, 2021

If you’re building your own cabinets or replacing existing hinges, there are endless hinge types to choose from. Although they vary in size and application, there are two main categories: traditional hinges and European hinges. A butt hinge is the most common traditional hinge style—it’s likely that the front door to your home is hung with a butt hinge. It is a sturdy, classic type of hinge that is easy to find at your local hardware store and simple to install. 

What is a butt hinge?

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A butt hinge is a type of surface mount hinge that sits on top of the surface of the door material and does not need to be mortised or recessed to install. They are made of two mounting plates (also called leaves) and a barrel held together by a hinge pin. One of the plates mounts to the side of the cabinet box or door jamb and the other to the side of the door. When the door is closed, only the barrel is visible between the door and frame.

When to use a butt hinge

A butt hinge...

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How to Cope Crown Moulding: Step by Step Guide

carpentry crown moulding Feb 17, 2021

“When you put a coped joint into the corner, it gives you a couple of degrees of tolerance— meaning if your wall is not 90 degrees, a cope will still look good and be a tight joint.” -Aaron Butt 

A coped joint is used to join inside corners of crown moulding. A coped piece of trim is cut so that the profile on one end fits against the other piece snugly. These pieces fit together like a puzzle, allowing for a tight fitting joint even if the corner is not a perfect 90 degrees or if the ceiling is not completely level to the wall. 

Coping a corner will ensure a tight fit with out of square corners and ceilings. The ability to hide irregularities and join corners quickly is why most professional builders cope crown moulding over mitering inside corners. 

Coping crown moulding can seem like a daunting task, but rest assured—it’s a carpentry task you can master. Read on to learn how to cope crown moulding like a professional, as taught...

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Inset vs. Overlay Cabinet Doors: How to Choose

cabinetry carpentry Feb 17, 2021

Whether you’re building your own cabinets, or having them built by professional cabinet makers, you’ll need to determine what type of cabinet door overlay works best for your home. Overlay is how the cabinet doors lay on the frame of the cabinet when the doors are closed, and it impacts the look and feel of your cabinetry. 

 The three main types of cabinet door overlays are: 

  1. Inset
  2. Full overlay
  3. Partial overlay. 

They’re all similar in function, so the choice is largely aesthetic. As with choosing your cabinetry hardware, consider the overall style of your home when you’re choosing what type of overlay is right for you. 

Inset cabinet doors

With inset doors, the cabinet door is flush with and on the same plane as the cabinet frame, and the frame surrounds the entire cabinet door. They are called inset because the door is set into the cabinet frame. The door takes up a small amount of storage space in the cabinet but they offer a...

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Complete Guide to Cabinet Hardware

cabinetry hardware Feb 17, 2021

When it comes to cabinets, hardware is both functional and decorative. Hinges, drawer slides, and latches fall into the functional category, although they can still add visual impact if you choose exposed versions like surface mounted hinges. 

In the cabinet building industry, the hardware that attaches to the fronts of cabinets and drawers is referred to as decorative hardware. There are infinite options for handles and knobs, and the choice is largely aesthetic. The hardware should fit the personality of the home, any existing cabinet or drawer fronts, and the homeowner’s preference. It’s the last item to install but is an important final touch.

Knobs and handles

Knobs and handles are the two most common types of decorative hardware. You can mix and match knobs or pulls to add visual interest, or use only one type of hardware throughout all of your cabinets and drawer fronts for a consistent look.


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Cabinet knobs are mounted to the exterior of the cabinet...

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All About LEED—Certification Process, Levels, and Benefits

For many people today—including developers, business owners, and home buyers—constructing as well as working in and living in green buildings has become a priority. As awareness of climate change grows, so does the demand to lower the environmental impact of construction. This is a multifaceted endeavor, which involves using rapidly renewable building materials like wood, as well as increasing energy efficiency and improved air quality—and more. 

Defining “green” when it comes to buildings has, however, been a complicated task. Much like the terms “organic” or “all-natural” in other areas, the term “green” does not have a consistent set of criteria behind it. Enter LEED certification.

What is LEED?

LEED standards were created with the goal of providing a rating system—industry-wide criteria and common benchmarks to encourage environmentally responsible building design and construction. The acronym stands...

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How to Measure and Cut Crown Moulding

carpentry crown moulding Feb 17, 2021

Installing traditional crown moulding requires patience and effort. Precise measurements and quality cuts ensure a smooth joint between segments. Read on to learn how to cut crown moulding like a professional, as taught by professional carpenter Aaron Butt in his MT Copeland online course Coping Crown Moulding and Trim

Measuring for crown moulding cuts

The most important thing for measuring crown moulding is consistency across a job site. Most builders choose to measure inside corner to inside corner. 

Tools needed

  • Measuring tape
  • Protractor or angle finder
  • Pencil and writing surface

How to measure length

  1. Measure for length first and create a cut list that includes length, type of corner, and type of cut. Also consider drawing a chart of the room with all the corners and adding the measurements to it—this can be very useful.
  2. Take the length measurement from where the crown hits the wall, not the ceiling. This is the bottom run of the crown.
  3. The first measurement...
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How to Build Slab Cabinet Doors: Step by Step Guide

cabinetry carpentry Feb 09, 2021

Cabinet door styles run the gamut: from the ever-popular shaker style to raised panel, recessed center panel, mullion frame, open frame, and slab. There’s also the option to add molding, edging, hardware, material, and finish. When building your own cabinets, the opportunities to get creative are endless. 

Two of the most common cabinet door styles are the panel cabinet door style—also called a slab cabinet door—and the shaker cabinet door style. Slab doors or flat panel doors are called such because the panel is made from a single piece of material. They require fewer steps to build than shaker style doors and offer a clean and modern look.

Note: DIY shaker cabinet doors are a more complex undertaking than building slab doors. Shaker doors require that you make a 5-piece door and a face frame cabinet box, which in turn requires you to learn how to drill pocket holes and use a specialty pocket hole screw type. In this article, you’ll learn how to make...

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