I was lucky to begin my woodworking career by apprenticing in two small New England cabinet shops. Each cabinetmaker had his own style, but they had one thing in common. If their shop was going to produce quality pieces efficiently and turn a profit, then accuracy and craftsmanship were key. One detail we used was the bead that ran along the perimeter of a door or a face frame. This detail softens the edge but creates a sharp shadowline.
There are two types of bead. An applied bead is typically shaped on the edge of a board, ripped off, then applied with glue and brads. An integral bead is shaped on the face-frame stock itself.
Both processes have advantages. I use an applied bead when I’m adding a bead to arched or curved stock. An applied bead is also the way to go if a drawer front rather than a face frame needs a bead. Any other time, I can work more efficiently by milling an integral bead. There are no nail holes to fill, which is important when working with stain-grade materials, and it’s easier to flush the face frame and the interior of the cabinet.
I profile the stock on the flat with a horizontal router setup and featherboards; it seems to produce more consistent results than a vertical setup. For most cabinet face frames, I use a 1.4-in.-dia. Jesada edge-beading bit (www.jesada.com) with the guide bearing removed.
After cutting the rails and stiles to length, I biscuit (dry, no glue yet) the pieces to the cabinet boxes and work the mitered cuts in place. I start with the two outside stiles, marking and cutting the miter locations with a scrap and marking knife or fine pencil (photo bottom left, p. 118). Then I mark, cut, and place the interior rails (and stiles, if any). Once I've gotten everything to fit, I remove the pieces and pocketscrew the frame together. Then I biscuit, glue, and clamp the face frame to the cabinet.