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View mamalbh's profile

nails vs screws for plywood desks

by mamalbh
posted 09-23-2012 07:42 PM


18 replies so far

View Cosmicsniper's profile

Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1906 days


#1 posted 09-23-2012 07:55 PM

There’s an old saying, “carpenters use nails [and screws], furniture makers use glue.”

Glue two boards together along the grain and it’ll be the wood that breaks, not the glue line.

Not true when gluing end grain, but that’s the job of a talented woodworker…to figure a way to join the pieces in a way that you can use glue to make a solid joint. So, it depends on the design as to whether it’s good enough. If the plan uses a lot of mortise and tenon joinery, dovetails/half-laps/box joints, dados/grooves, and even dowels to increase the glue surface at the joints, then it’ll be more than sufficient. Otherwise, you better have more screws than nails.

My two cents.

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

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Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1906 days


#2 posted 09-23-2012 07:59 PM

BTW, nothing wrong with fasteners. I use my pocket screw jig all the time. Just stating the importance of a good glue joint.

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

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Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1906 days


#3 posted 09-23-2012 08:29 PM

Looking at the plan for that desk where everything is butt jointed, I would use screws, especially if you use MDF. Be careful with the MDF. Predrill your holes or else it’ll split the second board. I’d use plywood.

To me, screws are faster than nails anyway and less risk of denting the wood.

Edit: I just noticed you said everything is primed? That will definitely affect the glue’s adhesion. Generally you do that after its assembled…or you don’t prime on the glue areas. Not too big a deal here, since everything is a butt joint, but it jut shows that you should use screws.

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

View mamalbh's profile

mamalbh

7 posts in 819 days


#4 posted 09-23-2012 09:00 PM

Thanks – I’m doing the interior of the desks in bright colors – those sides are actually already painted because I couldn’t see how I’d be able to paint inside such small spaces.

So, screws it is. I’ll probably use my kreg on the outer pieces, and just counter sink on the shelves/dividers

One more question – after all the cutting was done the smaller ‘divider’ pieces all bowed slightly. I don’t have the time or money to not use them. Any suggestions to make them work?

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Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1906 days


#5 posted 09-23-2012 09:12 PM

What materials are you using?

If the warped wood is to be shown, I would replace those boards. You can use cross braces with screws to straight them up, but it wouldn’t be pretty.

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

View mamalbh's profile

mamalbh

7 posts in 819 days


#6 posted 09-23-2012 09:23 PM

Arauco plywood.

None of the pieces are visible from the front, unless the doors are open, one piece will be visible from each side.

I did let the wood sit (inside) for quite awhile before & after cutting – unfortunately the weather wasn’t very good and perhaps the humidity changes are to blame. But I need to get it done ASAP

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Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1906 days


#7 posted 09-23-2012 09:32 PM

Definitely the humidity. As stable as plywood is, it will also bow on you if the conditions are right.

You could use clamps to hold the wood square as you screw them on. Once screwed, they should hold their shape somewhat. Tough call though. If you are a perfectionist, then it might bother you.

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

View mamalbh's profile

mamalbh

7 posts in 819 days


#8 posted 09-23-2012 09:53 PM

Here’s a crappy drawing of what’s going on – the desk is essentially three deep narrow boxes, 2 vertical, 1 horizontal. There will actually be three cross pieces (top, middle and bottom) only top piece is shown, and only one side piece is shown. Hope that made sense.

I very visual and can’t picture how to use clamps to keep it straight while being screwed. Could you describe how? Sorry & thanks

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mamalbh

7 posts in 819 days


#9 posted 09-23-2012 10:47 PM

Maybe just clamp the bowed plywood to the straightest 2×4 I have while screwing? Would that work?

View Loren's profile

Loren

7822 posts in 2396 days


#10 posted 09-23-2012 11:55 PM

If the desks are attached to a wall you may not have problems,
but such designs (a lot of the “modern” stuff takes structural
risks) may not hold up as well as freestanding pieces.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

4491 posts in 1128 days


#11 posted 09-24-2012 04:15 AM

The nails in that project are meant to act as clamps while the glue dries. You won’t get good holding power with nails or screws into MDF.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View oldnovice's profile

oldnovice

3868 posts in 2116 days


#12 posted 09-24-2012 05:05 AM

I would use biscuits and glue!

If you want you can add cleats to the hidden inside corners for additional glue surface and to straighten out any pieces that may need straightening.

At the other extreme you could use steel dowel and screws. These come it a variety of sizes and colors which can be left exposed or counter bored and plugged. If you leave them exposed you can knock down the desks for transport and or storage.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View Loren's profile

Loren

7822 posts in 2396 days


#13 posted 09-24-2012 05:24 AM

Look into “Miller dowels”. It’s a form of dowel that uses
a stepped drill and goes in more or less like a screw from
the outside of the cabinet. You can clamp and nail your
cabinet, then drill and insert the Miller dowel from the
outside. The strength of the joint is great, assembly
easy, and the appearance is very good.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View exelectrician's profile

exelectrician

1755 posts in 1175 days


#14 posted 09-24-2012 06:52 AM

Nix the nails! Pocket screws and bisquits with Titebond III glue – You won’t be sorry.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

2980 posts in 1991 days


#15 posted 09-24-2012 05:09 PM

It would depend on the plywood used. If you used Baltic Birch, glue and nails or screws would be fine. Cheap big box plywood or MDF; no way. You may be better off using pine shelving or glued panels.

I just realized you had the pieces already cut and primed. That changes things. For strength, you need to use joints of some sort. Butt joints won’t make it. Check with the catalogs on-line; Rockler, Woodcraft, etc for knockdown hardware. these are used with butt joints for sturdy connections, no glue needed.

View Cosmicsniper's profile

Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1906 days


#16 posted 09-24-2012 06:23 PM

It’s just hard to say with regard to your level of experience. What I would do and what you CAN do are two different things. Adding the primer first, IMO, will drastically affect your glue’s adhesion. Because it is plywood, screws will be just fine, but adding additional cleats to give yourself good amounts of glue area is a good idea.

You don’t have to clamp those bowed pieces, just screw in one side straight and then put the other side into position by bending the wood before you screw it in.

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

View Gregn's profile

Gregn

1642 posts in 1731 days


#17 posted 09-27-2012 01:08 AM

I built this table saw cabinet with the same brand of plywood as your using. I only use rabbet joints and grooves, yellow titebond wood glue and my 18 gauge brad nailer. Its still as solid as the day I built it.
http://lumberjocks.com/projects/30040

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View Moron's profile

Moron

4724 posts in 2641 days


#18 posted 09-27-2012 01:19 AM

screws

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

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