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How Frameless "Euro" Cabinets Are Made

Frameless cabinets, also known as European-style cabinets or "Euro" cabinets, are a type of cabinet construction that eliminates the face frame on the front of the cabinet box (hence the name "frameless"). While a face frame can sometimes create a nice look (think inset cabinets) frameless cabinets can be used to create a sleek and modern appearance, and offer a bit more usable space inside the cabinet itself. Let's jump into the details of how they're made!


(Design and photo credit: Maison Blonde)



Materials


MDF, particle board, and plywood are all common materials for constructing frameless cabinets. While this can vary from shop to shop, good framless cabinets are made with 3/4" thick material. Similar to framed cabinets, the MDF, particle board, and/or plywood are covered in a durable material like melamine, or a real-wood veneer with a clear UV-cured factory finish.


Given the structural rigidity that face frames give cabinets, we've seen a bad trend in the induistry with seeing just how thin of the cabinet box material can be gotten away with (this is where the "plywood is always better" trope comes from). While frameless cabinets have to be made with 3/4" thick material, framed cabinets can be as thin as 1/2", which isn't really ideal, whether plywood or not. A 3/4" framless cabinet, in either particle board or plywood, is just as good if not better than a framed cabinet built with a much thinner material.



Construction


There are a couple of good construction methods, though the most common is called dowel and Confirmat. Dowels are solid pieces of wood that are glued and inserted into corresponding holes in the cabinet parts. Once the glue dries, a very strong joint is created. The Confirmat is a special type of screw designed specifically to hold in MDF and particle board. These two methods combined create a very strong joint that will last for decades.



In addition to dowel and Confirmat, there are a lot of new styles of hardware designed to construct framless cabinets. Lamello's new Tenso fastener (seen below) is used to align and hold together all the pieces, and then the Confirmat screws are used to create a long lasting joint.



Edgebanding


Since most cabinet parts come from a larger piece of material, the cut edges need to be covered with something more attractive than the exposed plies. This is where edgebanding comes in. Available in every wood and color you can think of, this very thin piece of wood or PVC is applied to edge perfeclty flush, and then sanding or machined to appear as if nothing is there. It is common to match the color of the edgebanding on the face of the cabinet to whatever the finish of the doors is.





Hardware


Frameless cabinets use similar door and drawer hardware to framed cabinets, just with different overlays (the amount of space the cabinet door covers, or "overlays" the face). Sometimes called "full access cabinets", framless cabinets do not have a face frame that can encroach into the usable space of the cabinets. This is very noticable on drawer units, look at all the wasted space on either side of the drawer:



Compared to the drawer of a frameless cabinet, which is just under the entire width of the cabinet's interior:




The Value Of Unbiased Advice


We exist to empower the homeowner with unbiased, expert advice. If you need help with clarification of technical terms, specifics of how the process should work, vetting of professionals, or anything else at all, please consider booking a Cabinetry Consult with us. On most stained projects, something done incorrectly is impossible to undo. We want to be certain the details of your project are clearly defined before committing to anything (or spending any money!). This $199 call can go a very long way in preventing the heartache of your brand new cabinets not turning out exactly how you were hoping.




We're here to help give you the peace of mind in knowing your project will go as smoothly as possible. Find your way home with Wayhome.

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