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European vs. Face-frame

I had tossed this because its not original and I have no experience with traditional face-frame cabinet construction. Since there were folks looking for the page (via Google) the day after I tossed it, I've decided to leave it.
The information on this page is quoted from the 1996 Hettich Corporation catalog. I have added my thoughts at the bottom.


Why should I change my method of making cabinets which has been around for years ?
A systemized approach to cabinet making will reduce your dependence on skilled labor, reduce your total labor to at least half of what it is now and allow you to make a consistently better product. and a higher profit margin.

My customers expect certain designs from me. What will I do if they don't accept European cabinets ?
European style cabinets have no front frame. That is the only difference. In Europe they sell lots of wood cabinets, none have a face frame. You can still offer all types of cabinetry.

How is this ? I thought European cabinets all have that clinical contemporary look.
This is simply not true. The customer only looks at the cabinet front. Behind the front is always a rectangular box. The front may be what the customer wants, that is any style.

I can therefor create a traditional looking cabinet by attaching the appropriate drawer front, door front or moulding ?
Yes, this is so and you have the advantage to use a standard cabinet and simply vary the fronts.

Changes to your production method.

What do I need to change to this new production method ?
A. You need the ability to cut particle board panels which become your cabinet components accurately and splinter free.
B. You need drilling equipment so that you can drill the system 32 hole pattern and also your construction holes.

These are very close tolerances for woodworking, what happens when I am off ?
Remember you are working with 5/8" or 3/4" particle board or MDF. This material can be accurately cut with modern panel saws. If you are off in your cutting sizes your cabinet becomes shoddy and there comes a point where it will not go together.

How accurate do I need to be ?
You need to cut your cabinets components to a tolerance of 1/64".

What do you mean exactly ?
European cabinets are doweled together. Alternatively I can use a KD fitting or a combination of both. Since your location of holes for the above is indexed on the edge of the material cut, your holes will not line up if your cutting sizes are off.

Why should I then use the above connection methods rather than dado construction ?
Dowel and KD construction is far superior in strength, and will therefore give a sturdy cabinet. Less material is used ' since top and bottom shelves are only as long as the internal width. The treatment of the edge is far simpler, since all components are butt joints. And finally, which is most important in its consequence. I have a completely finished cabinet component, which I can assemble only once it is ready for delivery or even ship knocked down and assembled at a point which is closer to the job site or point of sale.

This method of construction means a lots of changes for me and my staff. Where can I get more information ?
There are of course proven methods which should be employed. Methods which deal with the correct use of drilling equipment and also appropriate drilling pattern for each and every specific cabinet line.

My two cents worth

I dropped the last question about obtaining more information as this is what I hope to provide in my pages. If you are a shop you can call Hettich for more information on their products and services (in the US 770-887-3733).

One thing I find contradictory here is that accuracy ( 1/64") is required yet it "will reduce your dependence on skilled labor". Accuracy is especially important in a system where there is a large chain of cuts/boring that could easily compound into trouble. The most common is the relationship between the side panel system holes and the drawer front. I think accuracy and skilled labor are a must, in any 32mm system, unless you are a large shop using things like CNC point to point machines.

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