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Old 01-23-2011, 09:09 AM   #1
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Building first cabinet and need help.


I'm taking on a little project down in the workshop and building my 1st cabinet to go above another set of cabinets in the workshop. Will be mainly used for storage of miscellaneous things - fasteners, maybe some handtools, paint, etc.

The dimensions are 48" long by 26" tall and 1' deep. So far the plan has me using 3/4 plywood all around - most likely the birch from Home Depot and finishing it in pine. I was originally thinking 1/2 but that is really hard to find in decent stuff. No doors.

So I plan on attaching the sides and top/bottom with a dado joint 1/4" deep at an inch from the bottom and making the top flush.

For the back, how would the best way be to attach it? I was thinking a 3/4" dado 1/4 in the back to make it flush.

Does this seem sound? Or should I just nail/glue the back to the other 4 sides?

Thanks for any tips - I'm looking forward to starting this as it's my first "real" woodworking project.

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Old 01-23-2011, 09:16 AM   #2
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Building first cabinet and need help.


I highly recommend gettin the kreg jig. I love mine. I think some people think it's not professional bc it's easy to use. Work smarter not harder.

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Old 01-23-2011, 09:20 AM   #3
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Building first cabinet and need help.


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Or should I just nail/glue the back to the other 4 sides?
Using this method gives you this result:
  • the end grain of the back piece will be exposed
  • You will be relying on the fasteners into the endgrain of the plywood for its strength
I like the dadoed idea
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Old 01-23-2011, 11:14 AM   #4
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Building first cabinet and need help.


I find the back made from 3/4 to be an overkill. I use 1/8, milling a groove into the top/bottom/sides to recieve the back. At the location where I intend to fasten the cabinets to the wall, I add a horizontal board for added strength.

If you prefer to use 3/4 for the back, cutting a rabbet joint works pretty well. A dado cut, leaving a half-inch or so from the edge might even be better. Of course, any internal shelves or dividers would be cut narrower to match the internal dimension.
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Old 01-23-2011, 05:28 PM   #5
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Building first cabinet and need help.


3/4" is heavy stock for the rear panel, but if you have left over and there's enough you may as well use it all up.

I like using 1/2" for all my rear panels and installed by rabbiting the box rear edges so it fits flush. A little glue and either screws or brads and you're good. Cut the rear panel accurately and it will square up your box.

Your original idea of just slapping it on the back and screwing it will work fine since its for the shop, but this is a good opportunity to practice better cabinet carpentry.
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Old 01-24-2011, 01:56 PM   #6
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Building first cabinet and need help.


Thanks to all for the tips - I can't wait to get this project underway but I'm held up by waiting for the dado throat plate for my table saw which is on backorder till 2/12... I did try making my first dado joint last night on some scraps with just the table saw and it went fine (a little tight) but It was hard to set up the alignment and will be easier when I can just set the dado blade up.

My initial thought was to go with 1/2" but after laying out all the cuts for the 3/4 the whole thing will fit on 1 sheet with little extra. And the dimensions seem to be a little bigger than the 1/2 sheets and I'd rather not have another sheet laying around at this time. So I think I'm going to be doing 3/4" all around.

If I were to go lighter on the plywood for the back, given that this is a hanging cabinet that will be supported across 2 beams with a 4 lag bolts (probably 2" or so) or a couple 3" deck screws would 1/2 for the back be able to support the weight?

Thanks again everyone!!!
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Old 01-24-2011, 06:08 PM   #7
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Building first cabinet and need help.


Yes 1/2" will work fine. You could go with 1/4 masonite. Thats what I use. The back will keep the unit from racking. Although it may give a little added strength, you technically dont even need one once it is mounted to the wall. In fact, look at the cheap furniture from China. Some of there crap uses 1/8" cardboard.

You could make your own throat plate for your table saw from plywood.
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Old 01-25-2011, 06:24 AM   #8
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Building first cabinet and need help.


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Although it may give a little added strength, you technically dont even need one once it is mounted to the wall. In fact, look at the cheap furniture from China. Some of there crap uses 1/8" cardboard.
But one needs to add that the thinner backs are generally not used for mounting and supporting the cabinents. If you were to go with a thinner back, you would need to consider alternate mounting provisions. I generally use full 3/4 thickness lumber along the bottom and top of the cabinet for mounting, with thinner (or no) panel for the majority of the rear to avoid racking and improved cosmetics.

If you go with 3/4 in the rear, then using this for mounting would be fine, I would expect. 1/2" may also be ok, but may depend on the location of the mounting screws.
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Old 01-25-2011, 06:32 AM   #9
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Building first cabinet and need help.


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Originally Posted by itguy08 View Post
I'm held up by waiting for the dado throat plate for my table saw which is on backorder till 2/12... I did try making my first dado joint last night on some scraps with just the table saw and it went fine (a little tight) but It was hard to set up the alignment and will be easier when I can just set the dado blade up.
Do you have a router?
I prefer to do my dadoes on large pieces with a router.
It's easier to run a small machine across a large piece than to try to manage a large piece over a machine.

Just my 2

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