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Thread: Installing Full Height Cabinet Side Panels

  1. #1
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    Installing Full Height Cabinet Side Panels

    Fellow woodworkers,
    I am in the process of planning out the cabinets for the kitchen and have come to conundrum. For the cabinets that go floor to ceiling (such as wall oven), how do you attach the side panels on exposed ends that cover up the plywood boxes? I am putting the cabinets on ladder frames instead of an integrated toe kick to give me a few inches of clearance when standing them up, but I can't attach the full height side panels before installation because I won't be able to rotate the cabinets to an upright position without hitting the ceiling. So I could install the cabinets prior to applying the end panel and attach from inside the cabinet, but how do you get a really nice joint between the side panel and the face frame? I am sure this is something professional cabinet makers face on just about every job, so I am sure there is a tried and true solution. Thanks in advance.

    Paul

  2. #2
    It's very difficult to make a tight flush corner joint in this situation. You will usually see some kind of reveal- the easiest to do is a shallow dado in the back of the face frame to accept the panel leaving a 1/16"-1/8" overhang at the corner. Depending on the ceiling height you may be able to design the box and panel as a unit that terminates at the kick height and has clearance to stand up in the room. In that case the corner design could be cleaner but the installation harder.

  3. #3
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    Inset doors/drawers or overlay? If overlay, you can run the side panel deep so it extends past the face frame and ends up flush with the front of the doors/drawers.
    --Certainty is the refuge of a small mind--

  4. #4
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    They are face frame construction with inset drawers and doors.

    I like the idea of dado in the back of the face frame to avoid gaps in a butt joint and the reveal solves the problem of getting it perfectly flush. Although I like the look of a flush corner on the similar cabinets I made in my last house (which did not feature any full height cabinets). Definitely worth thinking about. Thanks Kevin.

  5. #5
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    If this is an exposed end panel you will probably want to install it after the cabinets are in place, so you can scribe it to the wall.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Bender View Post
    If this is an exposed end panel you will probably want to install it after the cabinets are in place, so you can scribe it to the wall.
    What Tom mentions is very important! Even the "best built" structures are going to have some variance at the wall. For example, with drywall, the mud work at the ceiling junction means there is not a perfect angle, etc.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  7. #7
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    as others said, a reveal can look a lot better than a less than perfect, filled joint.

    and leave it wide to scribe the wall or expect to put some kind of trim along the joint. I like to return the toe kick to the wall, but some like to run the end all the way to the floor.

  8. #8
    I had some high end cabinets installed a few years ago. they made a shallow like v groove between the side panel and the face frame by putting a slight bevel on the edge of the face frame and edge of the full height panel. Never noticed it until this question came up.

  9. #9
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    They are face frame construction with inset drawers and doors.
    If this is the case, the finished side needs to be integrated with the frame so it looks seamless. A lock miter or even just a 45deg. cut is the the way to go. Meaning , there is no applied end, side , ect. after the fact.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Sabo View Post
    If this is the case, the finished side needs to be integrated with the frame so it looks seamless. A lock miter or even just a 45deg. cut is the the way to go. Meaning , there is no applied end, side , ect. after the fact.
    Dave, the op is talking about a floor to ceiling panel. While I agree that a mitered return is the cleanest solution in principle it would be extremely difficult to impossible to scribe three sides and install such a cabinet. If you have discovered a way to do it please share.

  11. #11
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    Leave a it bit short and cover the gap with crown molding.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    NOW you tell me...

  12. #12
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    I build a finished shallow toe kick on the end panel side and build the cabinet with a finished panel. Not a double panel.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Jenness View Post
    Dave, the op is talking about a floor to ceiling panel. While I agree that a mitered return is the cleanest solution in principle it would be extremely difficult to impossible to scribe three sides and install such a cabinet. If you have discovered a way to do it please share.

    First, the top wouldn’t be scribed. Close enough so the crown has something to attach too. If Paul is scribing all of the top rails on these cabinets ; in my opinion , a redesign is order. Besides , if the ceiling is out to any great degree , it most likely will exceed the amt. of xtra material in the rail anyway. Leaving another conundrum to deal with.

    2nd - the the bottom at the toekick would be recessed on the ladder frame -or- an applied base proud of the side panel.

    3rd - leave the back edge longer / deeper than the back panel and scribe as usual. Or use a standard scribe molding in matching finish. Or if you’re lucky , the door casing will hide the gap.

    It all starts with a complete and workable design. Back of the napkin engineering and building on the fly really isn’t tenable.

  14. #14
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    Thanks for all the advice everyone! First, the side panels in the past have always been integrated with the face frame by use of various methods such as miters and for me this yields the best "look". Second, in the past I have left the back stile a half inch wider and scribed it to the wall because, as mentioned, walls are never straight or vertical. Third, the uppers will go to about 94 inches above the floor with a ~96 inch ceiling, traditional 3 5/8 inch crown will cover the gap and account for any irregularities in the ceiling height. The entire problem here is that I can't stand up a cabinet that is 24 inches deep and 94 inches tall in a 96 inch vertical space. So in my mind, I have to scribe the end panels and attach them to the cabinet after installation of the box and face frame if I want them to run from floor to 94 inches. And as mentioned, I don't think it's possible to get a perfectly flush/seamless joint. The suggestions of either leaving a reveal or a V-groove is attractive and will need to be duplicated on all base and upper end units to have a uniform look.

    Dave, your point about napkin engineering is so true. I couldn't agree more. These cabinets are fully cad'd and I am currently building a base unit as garage storage to test out construct methods (including this end panel dilemma) and also let us make sure we like the paint color (and can take it to granite and tile shops to match).

    I am open to any additional insights and appreciate all the feedback to date.

  15. #15
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    Why do you have to have the panel extend to the floor ?

    Just massage the detail at the toekick to allow you to stand the cabinet upright (with integrated finished side ) and place it on the ladder base.

    I would recess the side toekick , cause that’s what I like. YMMV.

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