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Rail and Stile Construction

Rail and stile construction. You may have heard the terms often in your search for the right kitchen cabinets, but what does it mean? And where on your cabinets can ”Rail and Stile” be found?

The answer is both in the face frame ( the flat rectangular assembly that covers the very front of the cabinet ) and very often the doors. A quality hardwood kitchen cabinet will not have a face frame cut out of a single piece of wood. It will be assembled from many precision-crafted pieces that fit together to complete a strong and efficient design.

If you examine the face frame of any quality cabinet, you’ll see that it is made of several (at least four) pieces of wood that are joined together. These are called the “Rails” ( the horizontal pieces ) and “Stiles” ( the vertical ones ).

When you read that a cabinet has ‘no center stile’ it means there will not be an additional center piece of wood running vertically from top to bottom as part of the frame. A center stile is useful for supporting and backing traditional overlay cabinet doors that do not meet against each other when they’re closed.

A center stile is often present for support and stability on very wide cabinets. With full overlay doors gaining popularity, a center stile becomes unnecessary. Removing it also allows for a clear, open, and easy access path to the items in your cabinet.

If a cabinet has doors and drawers with center panels, then you’ll notice they are put together using rail and stile construction as well. This carpentry method has been in use for well over five hundred years and the items built with its range in variety from the front of your kitchen cabinets to ornate picture frames . . to theatrical scenery flats. ( Yes . . your kitchen cabinets and BROADWAY have something in common! )

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