Stability of Case

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Forum topic by greenwoodbob posted 12-08-2009 11:08 PM 982 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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20 posts in 2661 days

12-08-2009 11:08 PM

Topic tags/keywords: stability open back mortise strength wood joints wood joinery wood join entertainment center contemporary furniture

My client, an architect, has asked me to build an entertainment center for one of his clients. I have concerns about it’s stability, because it will essentially be four sides and some shelving; but no back.

The four sides will be 1 1/2” hardwood, and they will be 18” deep. It is 7’ wide, and 30” tall, with two additional vertical sections, evenly spaced that also will be 1 1/2” stock. There is also a center shelf running between the sides of the cabinets and the 2 interior veritcal sections.

My concern is that if someone were to push on this piece from the side, it would not be sturdy enough, and would come out of square.

I’ve tried to encourage him to consider a back for this, but his client wants it open.

I’ve consdered mortising the vertical sections and I think that will help; but even with the mortise, I don’t think that will yet be strong enough.

Any further advice or comments will be greatly appreciated!

-- Bob Card

3 replies so far

View pommy's profile


1697 posts in 3110 days

#1 posted 12-08-2009 11:31 PM

the figures you give look sterdy enough for it not to have a back sorry …...........

-- cut it saw it scrap it SKPE: ANDREW.CARTER69

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17573 posts in 3094 days

#2 posted 12-09-2009 01:39 AM

If you make it with about anything but butt joints, it should be fairly stable. Adding a small angled brace on the back side at all the intersections would add more strenght.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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Dan Lyke

1509 posts in 3544 days

#3 posted 12-09-2009 02:23 AM

You don’t say how thick the horizontals are, but 1½ verticals are pretty darned beefy. If you set your horizontals into 3/4” dadoes, or dowel or tenon so that those horizontal elements are firmly connected to the verticals, I’d say there’s no chance this thing’s falling over.

Aha! Looking around my office: I have a little 4’ tall 2’ wide backless 4 shelf bookshelf I made out of poplar about 20 years ago. It has probably 3/16” dadoes for the shelves, and a 2½” or 3” high horizontal under the bottom shelf for stability. I’ve picked the thing up by its top shelf and moved it while it was loaded with books and it has yet to show any real signs of racking.

So, yeah, make the joints between the horizontals and verticals really good (including the top to the verticals), sneak whatever vertical bracing you can on the bottom to provide more support against racking, and then make sure you glue and clamp this thing so that those joints are as strong as you can possibly get, and it should survive anything short of driving into it with a truck. I’d either cut a good deep dado for the shelves, or Domino them (‘cause when you have a Domino, every joint looks like a floating tenon).

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

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