Introduction to the Beaded Face Frame System
For centuries, the bead detail has been used by craftsmen to decorate fine pieces of furniture. The delicate lines and carefully rounded edge add a subtle elegance to even the most utilitarian cabinets. Originated in the "Old World", the design quickly caught on and has always been found on traditional American furniture as well.
A cabinet with a beaded face frame immediately conveys a high level of quality and craftsmanship. Precisely machined joints and accurately fitted inset doors and drawers elevate even the simplest, single door design and distinctly set it apart from common overlay-door cabinets. Architects, Designers and Consumers have rediscovered this style and consequently, demand for beaded face-frame cabinets is on the rise.
Up until now, the small to midsize custom cabinet shop owner has had few options when producing beaded face-frame cabinets, all of which have distinct disadvantages and draw-backs. The most common approach is the construction of face frames with square stock and to apply separate bead moulding The major disadvantage is the time required to produce a completed frame. The square stock is ripped, squared and planed, then cut to length and assembled. Then the separate, small bead moulding needs to be ripped, planed and the edge rounded. This moulding is then miter-cut and fitted one by one into each opening, then glued and often fastened with brad nails. Afterwards, the nail holes are filled and sanded.
Aside from the time consumption, other problems include mismatched grain and color on stain grade cabinets and mismatched miter joints due to inconsistent bead moulding. Another big concern is the potential for glue-joint separation between the square stock and the bead moulding.
Even small splits are especially obvious on painted cabinets and often require on-site touch-up and repair. The problem is amplified by door hinges mounted onto the beaded edge, which add stress exerted onto the glue joint. An unsatisfied customer or a call-back damages not only the cabinet shops reputation, but also its bottom line!
Clearly, the best way to produce beaded face frames is to start with beaded moulding. All of the above mentioned disadvantages such as hand fitting, color matching or glue joint separation are eliminated from the start.
Methods to use beaded moulding include the use of a cross-cut sled on a tilting arbor table saw, a special cutter head used in a radial arm saw or the use of large, multi-head milling machine.
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Using a sliding table saw is very time consuming and difficult, because the notch is easily cut too wide. In this case, a new stile needs to be made since there is no proper way to conceal to gaps in the finished joint. In addition, the saw blade doesn't leave a clean, finished edge and some hand fitting or filling might be required.
Using a radial arm saw with a special cutter head poses its own set of problems, the biggest of which is the fact that the width of the moulding determines the depth of the notch cut (the moulding is set on its edge, with the bead facing up). Even slight variations in width, or a slightly bowed stile, will result in an off-set or loose joint, which requires re-work.
Specialized milling machines produce accurate joints, but their set-up and calibration is a time consuming process and their cost (over $ 20,000 plus tooling) places them out of reach for most cabinet shops. In fact, even larger companies might find it difficult to justify the expenses because face-frames are just a small part of cabinet production.
The Hoffmann Beaded Face Frame System offers cabinet and millwork shops of all sizes a fast, precise and efficient way to manufacture beaded face frames, whether it's one or one hundred frames per job. Starting with beaded moulding, the stiles are notched and the rails are coped on fixed-blade, guillotine style notching machines. For a standard stile-rail connection, this operation takes about 5 seconds with our manual notching machine (the automatic model is faster still!).
A second step takes place on Hoffmann dovetail routing machines equipped with special fixtures for beaded material. Dovetail keyways are routed in all mating parts and the frames are assembled by simply applying some glue and inserting Dovetail Keys. No large clamping tables or bar clamps are required, the frames can be sanded and finished immediately upon assembly.
The notching machines are sold complete with table extensions, fence rails, flip-stops as well as tooling and an instructional video. The routing machines are set-up with a complete fixture set to process stiles and rails, but can also be used to process regular miter joints, compound miter joints and butt joints. Solid carbide dovetail bits are installed and the machines are shipped ready for operation.
Beaded Face Frame Machines
MORSO machines are manufactured by the Dan-List Company in Denmark. This family owned company has been building quality woodworking machines since 1911 and enjoys a reputation for reliable, high-quality products and outstanding customer support. Hoffmann Dovetail Routing Machines are available as manual and pneumatic bench top models or as freestanding production machines. The pictured models are our standard models - we also offer many different design variations to suit specific production requirements.