Shop Projects-Part 3-Beaded Frame Joints

Last week I discussed laying out the face frame for a cabinet I’m building for the shop. I’ll be updating the blog as work progresses on this, and for those of you keeping score at home, here are links to pdf files of my shop drawings.

Backbench Plan & Elevation.pdf (40.49 KB)
Backbench Sections.pdf (54.66 KB)

What the drawings don’t show is the detail of the beaded face frame. Instead of applying the bead as separate pieces after the frame is assembled, the bead is an integral part of the frame.

It takes some effort to do this , where one member of the frame meets another, the beaded edge is mitered and cut to meet the end of the adjoining piece. I think this looks better than applying the bead later on, and I would rather not miter and nail four individual pieces around the inside of each opening. The grain and color will match, and I don’t have to worry about glue squeezing out in the groove next to the bead. To make these cuts, I use a router with a flush-trimming bit and the two templates shown below.

The template on the left is used for the open-ended cuts on the ends of stiles. The template on the right is used where rails go between two stiles, or where intermediate stiles go between the top and bottom rail. I made the jigs in much the same way as described by Bill Hylton in our April 2007 issue for making the frame joints. The beauty of making these jigs is that once they’re done, the balance of the joinery goes quickly.

This closer view of the template shows how it works. The horizontal piece that goes below the workpiece is an exact pattern of the cut I want to make. The two small fences hold the template to the work. There is a bit of forgiveness in the jigs. If the straight cut doesn’t quite match the edge of the groove in the beaded stock, blue painter’s tape can be used as a shim on the fence of the template. After clamping the template and the work to the bench, trim the solid wood away in the cutout.

My left hand is holding the base of the trim router down on the stock I’m cutting. If the router bit tilts during the cut, it can cut a notch in the face of the piece beyond the joint. The other thing that can go wrong is that the wood can blow out as the router bit exits the angled notch in the template. To prevent this, I make the first part of the cut as a climb cut, moving the router from right to left. Moving against the bits rotation removes material in little nibbles, rather than big chunks.

The inside corners of the angled notch aren’t cut by the router bit, so I prefer to use as small a diameter bit as I can find. This leaves less material to be removed with a chisel. Make the chisel cut before removing the template. Holding the back of the chisel against the angled portion of the template keeps the chisel in line. One hand holds the chisel against the guide, and the other pushes in. The opposing cut is made the same way.


The ends of the pieces that meet these joints are mitered back from the point on the face of the stock where the groove next to the bead meets the end. I add a wooden extension to the table saw miter gauge so I can line up the piece with the saw kerf. When the sweet spot is found, I clamp a scrap of wood down to act as a stop.

I cut several extra pieces of beaded frame stock to make test cuts to tweak the templates and the miter gauge stop. When everything is set, the joint should look like the photo above, and cutting the joints goes quickly. Of course, I still need a way to physically hold the parts together. In the past, I’ve used pocket screws, or milled mortises and tenons. For this cabinet, I’m going to give the new Festool Domino a workout.

- Bob Lang

One thought on “Shop Projects-Part 3-Beaded Frame Joints

COMMENT