Constructing a Beaded Face Frame
A beaded faceframe on furniture or cabinets is a sign of quality. It is a fine detail that takes time and craftsmanship to properly execute but it is certainly worth the extra effort.
Beaded faceframes are also a great way to show off inset doors. Unlike an overlay door, an inset door fits inside the faceframe and must be carefully fitted with a hand plane. The precision of the fit adds to the quality and fine craftsmanship of the cabinet.
The strongest way to construct a beaded frame is with time-honored mortise-and-tenon joints. After the joints are cut the bead is shaped on the rails and stiles and then mitered at the corners where the beads intersect.
Amana makes a complete line tools for this technique including corner beading bits in sizes from 1/16 to 3/8 radius so that you can select a bead that is in proportion to the work that you're doing. For example, for the corner cupboard in photo A, I used a 1/8" radius bead, Amana Tool corner beading no. 54162. For the sample in the photo essay I used a 3/32" radius bead, Amana Tool corner beading router bit no.54163.
Here are the steps to beading a frame:
Lay out the mortises. --Keep in mind that the mortise must be offset on the inside corner to allow room for mitering (see illustration). The offset is equal to the bead plus the quirk, or groove behind the bead. For example, the 3/16" diameter bead that I used has a 1/16" wide quirk. So the offset is equal to 1/4". Outside corners should be haunched to avoid weakening the frame.
Cut the mortise—I cut the mortises with a Timberline no.609-120 3/8” hollow chisel. Keep in mind that the mortise must be cut 1/4” deeper than desired. Later on, when the 1/4" wide bead is mitered and cut away, the mortise will be the correct depth.
Cut the tenons—before cutting the tenons I cut the rails to length. The rail length must be increased by two times the width of the bead; this compensates for the loss of the bead at the mortises. I cut the tenons on the tablesaw with an Amana Prestige stacking dado set. The miter gauge guides the stock at ninety degrees and the fence on the saw limits the length of the tenon.
Mount the Amana Tool corner beading router bit no.54163, 3/16” beading bit in the router table and set the height precisely to 1/4"
Shape the bead—shape the bead on the inside edges of both the stiles and rails
Set up for the miter—the miters are cut on the tablesaw using the miter gauge at ninety degrees and the blade angled to forty-five degrees. A line on the backing board attached to the miter gauge is used to align the stock for an accurate cut. I use the Amana Prestige saw blade for mitering the bead; it cuts smooth without burning or splintering.
The first step is to tilt the blade to 45 degrees. Then adjust the height of the blade so that the tooth tip just touches the edge of the quirk
Miter the rails—align the shoulder of the tenon with the layout line on the backing board.
Miter the stiles—align the inside edge of the bead with the layout line on the backing board.
Remove the bead at the mortise—cut the excess bead from the stile at the mortise and assemble the frame