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Forum topic by Somann posted 02-22-2016 10:08 PM 1676 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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15 posts in 866 days

02-22-2016 10:08 PM

I am new here and have been asking lots of questions, very friendly folks with lots of good advice. I am building a wet bar base and upper cabinets for my basement and have a question about holding the cabinet carcasses together before I lay the face frame on. The carcass material is mdf core with veneer faces. I do not want to use pocket screws anywhere they would be visible. Is glue and clamping sufficient to joint the boxes? All my joints are dado’d and fit snug. Is there a specific glue I should be using for MDF, or will the basic wood glues work well enough? What is the best way to go here? Thanks as always.

9 replies so far

View rwe2156's profile


2965 posts in 1506 days

#1 posted 02-22-2016 11:04 PM

First of all, MDF is not a good choice for a wet bar, even if there are veneer faces long term you will probably regret it.
Ok for uppers but not the base. Long term you will most likely end up with problems round the sink no matter how well you seal it.

If you’ve already built them many many coats of sealer and poly is about all you can do. I would coat all the edges before assembly.

You probably could glue them together but I would just screw them.

There are fasteners specially for this (name escapes me right now) but screws will do just fine.
If you’re worried about them showing deep countersink and plug.
There are screws specific for MDF, but any coarse thread screw will work.
Hope this helps.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View Somann's profile


15 posts in 866 days

#2 posted 02-23-2016 12:03 AM

Wet bar sounds worse than it is. It will have a granite top, and should see much less use than say…my kichen sink which is set in cabinets of similar material. This material is what most cabinet shops around these parts build cabinets from (or partical board) Its by no means a glamorous material, but I think its liked for its flatness and dimensional stability. What I personally dont like is its short comings with strength as it relates to holding screws. Are carcasses ever just glued? I see no sign of fasteners on the cabinet boxes in my house (bbuilt from particle board with veneer faces. I wish I could say I like it for the price, at 90 bucks a sheet for knotty alder faces, adds up quick.

View bondogaposis's profile (online now)


4765 posts in 2376 days

#3 posted 02-23-2016 01:33 AM

Is glue and clamping sufficient to joint the boxes?

Yes, that should be sufficient. I’ve made bookcases that way with out problems.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Ger21's profile


1074 posts in 3156 days

#4 posted 02-23-2016 02:29 AM

Your kitchen cabinets are probably doweled together, if you can’t see any fasteners.

No, cabinets are usually not just glued, unless you cut rabbets and dados in the sides. Then you can just glue them.
If you have a biscuit jointer, that will work fine too.

You can always screw them together, and add finished end panels to hide the screws.

-- Gerry,

View JBrow's profile


1361 posts in 945 days

#5 posted 02-23-2016 04:47 AM


I like dado and rabbet joinery at the corners. That sounds like what you are doing. With tight fitting joints, a good PVA glue should work fine. On the base cabinets, using a waterproof PVA glue (Titebond III) would be insurance should water ever make it to the joints. The base cabinets are supported by the floor. However, the upper cabinets are secured to the wall by a mounting rail or the cabinet back. In this case I like a little more assurance that the side to back (or hanging rail) connection will not fail. In this case, shooting a few screws from the back into the side members seems to me to be a good idea. In MDF course threaded screws will hold better.

I think rwe2156 offers sage advice. Ensure all edges are finished with a film finish, especially on the base cabinets. Eventually water from the sink or spilled drinks or simply mopping the floor will eventually make its way to the MDF. If that happens, the MDF will swell and your cabinets will go from looking nice to pretty ugly in short order.

View timbertailor's profile


1594 posts in 1449 days

#6 posted 02-23-2016 05:40 AM

MDF can be very hazardous to you and your families health. I do not recommend it as a building material for that reason. Water and humidity damage is a distant second concern.

Quality plywood can be just as flat and far more stable.

And yes, if you are using dados, glue is just fine. Just make sure they are square when clamping to dry. Box clamps like these can be worth the investment.

-- Brad, Texas,

View Woodknack's profile (online now)


11777 posts in 2405 days

#7 posted 02-23-2016 06:14 AM

Just glue is fine, dadoes or not. I’ve built cabinets with just glue and they hold up fine, one I had to take apart and it splinted and de-laminated the plywood before the glue gave.

-- Rick M,

View Somann's profile


15 posts in 866 days

#8 posted 02-23-2016 08:11 PM

Update: I assembled my first box last night and it turned out great. I used glue and screws in areas that will never be seen, and glue/clamps on the other joints. Attached the face frame after a few hours and everything squared up very well. If the rest turn out as good, I will be quite happy. I do agree with comments about MDF core material, its terribly dusty material to deal with, I have been taking precautions with a good respirator and dust collection. I would much rather work with veneer ply core if I could find some quality material. Thanks for the insights and knowledge, its nice to be able to learn from the others rather then always having to learn the hard way.

View JBrow's profile


1361 posts in 945 days

#9 posted 02-24-2016 01:18 AM


Sounds like your first cabinet is going together well!

My local Menards carries maple, red oak, and birch wood core veneer plywood at ½” and ¾”. They only carry MDF core plywood at ¼” in the local store. I see on their web site that they offer ¼” wood core veneer plywood as well as other hardwood species, which probably must be ordered and shipped to the store. It is generally grade B and affordable. I am now building carcases with the Menards in-store plywood and have found it to be perhaps 99%+ void free.

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