Scribbing cabinets between walls - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 01-22-2013, 12:49 PM Thread Starter
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Scribbing cabinets between walls

Hi, could someone describe for me the proceedure for getting good results in scribbing cabinetry between two fixed walls? I am building a cabinet which will consist of a lower cabinet and upper bookcase. I will build each as seperate units and they will have traditional face frames. I plan to build the boxes a little small and leave 1/4 to 1/2 inch of overhang on the face frames for scribbing. But how do I best go about getting a reasonably tight fit between the two walls it will sit without a lot of trial and error? These cabinets will be painted so a little caulk and paint isn't out of the question. But I'd like to keep that to a minimum.
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post #2 of 7 Old 01-22-2013, 01:41 PM
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Usually, a bit more is allowed for scribing. It depends on the walls and how much material needs to be removed on the edge of the faceframe. Place a long level on the walls to determine how far out they are and add at least that amount to the desired finished size of the faceframe stiles. You leave one of the end stiles loose. Its not a bad idea to either rabbet or bevel the back side of the faceframe overhang towards the wall, so there is less material to cut when fitting. If this is a drywalled alcove, be aware that the build up of compound in the inside and outside corners often makes a slight curve from the corner out. Allowing only 1/4" of free play at the back of the cabinet might be too tight. You want the cabinet to have plenty of free room to slide in the opening.

Place the cabinet between the walls with the stile removed, level it up. Scribe the attached stile to the wall. If you allowed an extra 1/2" of scribe, use a small block cut 1/2" to use as a scribe. Pull the cabinet out and cut that stile to fit. Place the cabinet back in place. The loose stile is then held against it's wall and you make a small mark on the rails of the faceframe. Measure those top and bottom marks. If one mark is more than the other, mark the shorter one the same as the long one. These marks will be about 1/2" in from the end of the rails, if you allowed an extra 1/2" per side. Cut a small scribe block to match this measurement. Hold the loose faceframe stile on the long marks and scribe it to the wall. Attach the loose stile.

Scribing in a top is a bit more difficult since you have to fit to three walls. This method can be used on cabinets, too, instead of leaving a loose stile. Get some art matte board to use as a template. Use two pieces that overlap each other. Keeping the overlap square and straight, scribe to the back wall first. Then scribe one end to the side wall, keeping the back aligned properly. Slide the other piece to the other side wall and scribe that in. Carefully mark the alignment on the templates then transfer that to the work.
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post #3 of 7 Old 01-22-2013, 03:02 PM Thread Starter
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Hammer, thanks. I am going to have to reread this about a dozen times but I get what you are saying. I will definetely check to see how far the wall is out and leave enough overhang on the frame to cover the scrib. I also like the idea of beveling or rabbiting the overhang to make the trim easier.

Is there any way to do it without having a lose stile? I had planned to pocket screw the face frame together and pocket screw it to the carcass. Would not be able to do that.

*edit... sorry just processing the part about the art board.... think this will work great. Thanks!

Last edited by LearnByDoing; 01-22-2013 at 03:06 PM.
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post #4 of 7 Old 01-29-2013, 05:40 PM
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Can you just make your carcass an 1 1/2 smaller than the opening so you can create filler panels for either side?
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post #5 of 7 Old 01-29-2013, 05:54 PM
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It's really difficult to scribe a cabinet to fit between two walls and get it installed with damaging the walls. I normally make the cabinet face 1/4" smaller than the space and once centered and installed trim the 1/8" gap on each side with flat mold. Then the box I make is normally 1 3/8" smaller than the face because the walls are often out of square and the tape and bedding is normally heavier in the corners. If its really important to install a cabinet to fit without trim you can shield the two walls with a thin sheet of sheetmetal and the drywall behind will give enough you can make the faceframe exactly the size of the opening and force the cabinet into place. It will just take a lot of careful measuring and perhaps more than one attempt to get the cabinet installed.
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post #6 of 7 Old 01-30-2013, 07:32 AM
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Make a card board template the same height as your cabinet using two pieces width wise that overlap at the middle by six inches or so.

Hold one piece of card board at the height and depth of the cabinet and level. Use a compass or similar method to scribe the wall to the card board. Do the same for the other wall.

Hold both pieces of card board in place and make a mark for correct width. Trim the card board as scribed and tape them together at your mark and check the fit. Adjust as needed.

Lay the card board template out over the cabinet and transfer to the face frame. You might trim the cabinet 1/16 smaller for easy fit.
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post #7 of 7 Old 01-30-2013, 09:13 AM Thread Starter
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Gary and Steve, both great suggestions. I think I am going to do some piece of the overlapping template thing. If I can get within an eighth I'll be pretty happy. I am goint to paint the cabinets and can caulk the gap. I also put a 4ft level to the wall and it appears they are pretty plumb. Less than 1/8th out over the height of the cabinet. Will be interesting.
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