Built-ins - skirting/plinth and rail/stile width


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Established Member
7 Jan 2007
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Essex, UK
Hi all,

I have a couple of design questions that I'm struggling with. I am building a pair of cabinets in alcoves, 900mm high closed cupboards on the bottom and 1100mm glazed units above them. The alcoves are 900mm wide. The cabinets will be painted.

Is there a rule of thumb for how to do skirting/plinth for a built in? My existing skirting (very plain with just a round over on the top) in the room is 225mm (9") high; I could continue this around the front of the units; but, will lose a lot of the useable height. I was thinking/hoping that half that height in a similar style would work?

Second question: how narrow can I make face frames and rails and stiles? I am using 18mm ply carcass and probably 20mm thick tulipwood/poplar for the face frames. Typically I use a face frame of 50mm width (with a cock bead applied adding 10mm to the width) and 75mm shaker style doors; but, that's never been with glazed doors. I want more glass and less frame.

Any advice gratefully received.


I tend to make Skirting / plinths around 100mm high. I like to make the top and bottom rails of the face frame about 80mm wide. The skirting is then face fixed to the front frame about 30mm down from the door and same for cornice.

60mm overall width for a front frame is a bit wide, you could get away with 32mm or 40mm plus cock bead.

Doors could be 60mm, maybe with 85mm bottom rail. I make glazed shaker doors with a 4.5mm groove, 4.5mm tenon and silicone glass into grooves during assembly. I prefer making doors 25mm thick

With alcove cabinets which are deeper than the recess, it can look good to make the front frame wider than the alcove width so the side cheek return on the chimney side butts up against the plaster and acts as the scribe. Obviously the front frame would then be flush to the inside of the carcase, leaving the overhang outside.
I tend to go 36/38 mm for framing, depending whether the carcase is 18mm MDF or 19mm blockboard.
Doing it this way, I can build the carcases with 19mm framing where two carcasses will butt together on site, giving the aforementioned size.
Also if using loose (is fixed on site) end panels, a 38/39mm frame will allow one to butt the end panel up to the back of the framing giving a clean look to the front.
For wardrobes I tend to drop the plinth height to maximize internal space, and aim to maintain the 38mm look top and bottom.
Obviously if the top needs to be scribed to the ceiling, and they're way out you need to leave more to do so.
If any coving is to run across the face of the robes then I build the units taking that into consideration.
Doors I generally build with 70mm stiles/rails.

All the best,
Thanks for all the advice. I've hurt my head trying to figure out what to do. I'm going to try and go with 40mm rails and stiles on the doors; one will be 1400mm by 400mm and glazed, so I'm most nervous about that at the moment. I'm hoping the glass with a bead of silicone will give it enough strength not to sag.

Next question, what thickness of glass should I use?



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