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Rear panel of cabinet: structure bearing, anti-racking, or placeholder?

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Forum topic by Holbs posted 03-01-2016 04:46 PM 608 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Holbs

1377 posts in 1494 days


03-01-2016 04:46 PM

Topic tags/keywords: cabinet rear panel

More specifically, a medium/large sized wall hanging hand tool cabinet with plane till & saw till 4’ wide and possible 4’ tall. I am undecided to go with 3/4” maple plywood as a backing for ease and strength, or hardwood panel (either breadboard or such) just for the needed panel & glue up experience, for I’ve never done such and would like to. One question arose in the structure of wall mounted cabinetry: the rear panel importance to the cabinet. By default, I can assume all back panels for any cabinet is there for anti-racking and to keep things square. But for a wall hanging cabinet, is strength / stability more important than hardwood and the experience?

-- Yes, my profile picture is of a Carpenter Bee! The name is derived from the Ancient Greek "wood-cutter"


4 replies so far

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hotbyte

842 posts in 2440 days


#1 posted 03-01-2016 05:30 PM

You can also use a beefier strip across top of the back for hanging with a thinner full back.

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Holbs

1377 posts in 1494 days


#2 posted 03-01-2016 07:24 PM

I guess it would matter if cabinet would be on French cleats, bolted to wall, or on it’s own stand. Unsure the amount of lbs French cleats can hold.

-- Yes, my profile picture is of a Carpenter Bee! The name is derived from the Ancient Greek "wood-cutter"

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hotbyte

842 posts in 2440 days


#3 posted 03-01-2016 07:53 PM

If cleats are securely attached to wall and cabinet, I would think they should hold as much as a straight bolted/screwed cabinet.

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JBrow

818 posts in 385 days


#4 posted 03-01-2016 08:28 PM

Holbs,

Whether you opt for a hardwood panel or bead board for the cabinet back, wood movement must be accommodated. Accommodating wood movement would mean the back panel would offer little structure, though it could prevent the cabinet from racking. Therefore a stout hanging rail would be required. A shop cabinet as large as you describe would itself be heavy and could house a lot of weight.

I prefer ¾” plywood because wood movement is much less a concern and multiple attaching points, both horizontally and vertically, are available to fix the cabinet to the wall. If the ¾” plywood back panel is used for hanging the cabinet, instead of a separate hanging rail, the plywood must be securely attached to the sides, bottom and top; the sides being critical. I like to capture the plywood back panel in dados in the side panels and a tongue in the plywood (unless the width of the dado matches the plywood’s thickness), glued in place. Rabbets on the side panels would work, but I do not believe this method is as strong. Screws or nails to reinforce the sides to back connection give me peace of mind, though probably not necessary.

A French Cleat could work, but I would think it would have to be wide and long if this would be the sole support for the cabinet. At 4’ wide, there will only be 3 wall studs into which the wall cleat could be fastened. I would prefer more than 1 row of 3 screws or bolts. The cabinet side of the cleat would also need to be large in order support the weight of the cabinet. If both sides of the French cleat are 24” wide ( x 4’ long) where the wall cleat could fill in the lower half of the cabinet back while the cabinet side of the cleat would be at the top of the cabinet and is securely jointed to the cabinet sides, the cabinet would probably stay put. By leaving a void in the cabinet back for the wall side of the cleat, the depth of the cabinet can be maintained. However, I would still attach the cabinet to the studs. The French cleat would most definitely make the heavy and large cabinet much easier to hang and, for this reason, is a good idea.

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