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Forum topic by pcox posted 04-26-2016 06:23 PM 578 views 1 time favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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pcox

25 posts in 228 days


04-26-2016 06:23 PM

Hello,
Before I describe my project, please keep in mind that I am new to woodworking and the tools I have to work with are a Festool TS55, a 10” miter saw, a Drill and a Kreg Pocket Hole Jig.

I am planning to build a Linen Cabinet / Hamper for our master bath. The piece will be about 32-36” wide, 84” tall and I am thinking about 21” deep at the bottom and then maybe slightly less deep at the top, but I have not concluded on this. The bottom section will contain two stacked compartments where I can store laundry baskets for dirty close and then the top section will be shelving to store clean towels. I have in mind that the bottom section will look similar to one side of this picture… (So split down the middle top to bottom and either left or right side is what my cabinet would look like.)

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/196539971211424315/

I am hoping to keep this fairly easy to build but I also want it to look good. I plan on painting it white like the linked picture above so maybe I could use more pocket holes than what might normally be done and then I could plug and paint them, but not sure. I have in mind that I will build the shell cabinet out of good plywood with a face frame and then shelves. And then maybe some other molding as needed.

What I mainly need help with is planning out the joint construction and any details that might be helpful in building cabinets. So I am looking for guidance with this.

Thanks for your suggestions and comments!

Pat


18 replies so far

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JBrow

818 posts in 384 days


#1 posted 04-27-2016 02:57 AM

pcox,

I am not a pocket screw guy, so I cannot advise you regarding their use. Not being a member if pininterest, I could only get a vague idea of exactly what you have in mind.

The project should be straightforward. My thoughts are that if the project will slide into an alcove, walls on both sides, triple check your measurements.

The project will be simpler if the box is a straight rectangle form where the depth remains the same from top to bottom; otherwise inside cuts are required. At 84” high, the sides should probably be secured with a top, bottom and fixed mid-shelf. An accurately cut and square piece of plywood attached to the back flush with the sides and the top and bottom of the cabinet will help keep things square.

If the top, bottom, and mid-shelf are mounted to sides by screwing through the sides into the edges of the top, bottom, and mid-shelf, these parts can be cut to the same dimensions. Trim screws and glue could be used. Trim screw heads are small enough to take wood filler well. The laundry basket divide could be screwed through the bottom into the edge of the center divider and never be seen. Maybe pocket screws would work to attach the center divider to the mid-shelf (not sure since I am not a pocket hole guy).

I may be possible to enhance the precision of the cuts on identical pieces, such as the sides, by clamping the two pieces of plywood together and making a single cut with the track saw through both pieces at the same time.

Upper shelves could be adjustable with shelf pins and a shop made or purchased jig to ensure the shelf pin holes all line up. Alternatively, hardwood cleats screwed to the inside sides of the cabinet can serve as a mounting ledge for fixed shelves, which are then attached to these cleats. If fix shelves are used, these can be dimensioned the same as the top, bottom, and mid-shelf if the top, bottom, and mid-shelf are mounted as suggested above.

I am guessing the face frame can be assembled and installed on the cabinet with pocket screws, probably in a way where they will not be seen.

A variety of cabinet levelers are available. Since this is a wet location, keeping the plywood off the floor is, I think, a good idea. Here is but one design that might work well since the toe-kick can be snapped into place and the cabinet box is held off the floor on the legs.

http://www.amazon.com/Platte-River-Hardware-Adjustable-Leveling/dp/B008L2MPSY

Good luck!

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pcox

25 posts in 228 days


#2 posted 04-27-2016 04:53 AM

Thanks for your reply jbrow. It was very helpful. The fixed middle shelf makes sense and I will look into adjustable shelves vs fixed for the other shelves. I do have one specific question. Is it generally better one way or the other for the top and bottom to be installed between the sides vs above and below the sides? Also, should the shelves be made of plywood or hardwood and if plywood, how do I cover up the edges?

Also, I am going to work on a drawing in Sketchup and will post when finished.

Thanks again.

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JBrow

818 posts in 384 days


#3 posted 04-27-2016 03:06 PM

pcox,

The advantages to mounting the top, mid-shelf, and bottom to the inside of the sides is that the top, mid-shelf, and bottom can be cut to the same dimensions, are easily fastened through the sides, perhaps resist racking a little better since the screwed connection is a little stronger, and, in your case, maybe the plywood can be stacked together for precise identical cuts with the track saw.

It seems to me that the only part whose method of attachment can matter a lot from a structural standpoint is the bottom. Whatever method selected for attaching the bottom can be duplicated for the top.

I think securing the top and bottom through a face into an edge provides a little stronger connection than a pocket screw connection, since the workpiece is captured by the screws penetrating all the way through the face and deeper into the edge. But then, if enough well-placed pocket screws are used and the bottom is not a structural element (just bearing the weight of laundry baskets), pocket screws may be strong enough in ¾” plywood.

If the sides run all the way to the floor and support the weight of the cabinet, the bottom can only be mounted between the sides. Otherwise the bottom would set on the floor trapping moisture and making installation of the cabinet difficult.

On the other hand, if you elect to support the cabinet at the bottom, for example, with cabinet leveler legs of the style shown in the previously provided link, attaching the sides on top of the bottom would be much stronger. Load is transferred by the sides to the bottom to the cabinet leveler legs. In this case, setting the cabinet sides on the bottom shelf avoids relying entirely of the strength of the screws and the limited surrounding wood.

The other consideration for attaching the top and the bottom is the location of the screws. The inside mounted top and bottom could secured by screwing through the face of the sides, results in screw heads that have to be filled. Mounting the top and bottom by screwing through the face of the top and bottom into the edges of the sides leaves the screw heads unnoticed and no wood filler is required. However, a little more care is required when moving the cabinet until the back is secured in place, since I would worry that racking could result in the screws blowing through the sides of the cabinets. Once the back is in place, racking is no longer a problem.

If seeking to avoid screwing through the face of the sides when mounting the mid-shelf, I suppose pocket screws may work. Alternatively supporting cleats to which the mid-shelf is attached can be secured by screwing through the cleats and then into the sides from inside the cabinet.

At 32”-36” wide x 21” deep, avoiding solid wood shelves would save time and money. You would probably have to hire out their fabrication since you have limited tools. I would also worry some about the stability of solid wood shelves in a bathroom. I would think ¾” thick plywood would work fine. Even though painting the project, orienting the plywood shelves so that the grain of the plywood runs parallel with the back and perpendicular to the sides would look a little better. Some of the grain may telegraph through the paint.

The same method for covering the edges of the plywood on the shelves can be used to attach the face frame, I presume with pocket screws and glue. A narrow strip of ¾” hardwood that is wider than the shelf is thick will cover the raw edges. For example, a 1-1/2” wide hardwood strip (poplar and maple paint well) could be used. The wide face of the hardwood strip would run vertically, while the edge of the hardwood is set flush with the top surface of the shelf. Only the show edge of the shelf needs this treatment.

Iron-on or glued-on thin veneer could also cover the edges, and although I have never used these products, would think it would give you the look you are after and may be easier. However, I am not sure how well the thin veneer would hold up over time, especially when dragging towels across the edge of the veneer. The hardwood strips are more durable and increase the strength of the shelves.

The approach for attaching the hardwood strips to the shelves raw edges depends on the design of the cabinet. The design will specify whether the shelves are recessed into the cabinet or set flush with the face frame. If the shelves set flush with the face frame, the approach of attaching the hardwood strip to the shelves depends on whether the face frame is flush with the inside of the cabinet sides. The most challenging approach is with a design where the face frame does not set flush with the inside of the cabinet sides and the hardwood strips are flush with the face frame, but it can be done with only a little aggravation.

Although premature, when it is time to prep and paint the project, ensuring that a good coat of paint protects all raw edges will go a long way to keeping the project stable and looking good. Setting in a bathroom, the cabinet will be subject to a lot of humidity. Effective sealing of all raw edges is added protection from the deleterious effects of moisture. Additionally using water resistant glue is probably in order.

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BinghamtonEd

2281 posts in 1833 days


#4 posted 04-27-2016 04:58 PM

Do you need/want a face frame? I know you mentioned it, but with a sturdy box and a decent back fastened on, you probably don’t absolutely need it. I usually lean towards face frames, since that’s the style I’m more comfortable with when doing doors/drawers, but I could see an argument for leaving them out here. It would save time, your box could be plenty strong without them, and it would make less holes to fill, and the painting would be easier.

I’d sit the sides on the bottom, and pocket-screw the sides to the bottom from the outside. Then attach the top in the same way. A fixed shelf in the middle, pocket-screwed to the sides from the underside, adds additional strength to the box. I’d leave the top/bottom 1/2” shorter than the sides, and rabbet the sides 1/2”. This would allow you to put a 1/2” back on, pocket screws in the top and bottom into the back, and glue/brads (or glue and clamps) to hold the back into the rabbeted sides.

I’ve had great luck with these feet from Rockler:

They’ll keep the box off the ground, and they come with removable plinth clips, so you can trim it out to look like the link you’ve posted, and hide the legs. And in the unfortunate event of a leak somewhere and this gets wet, you can pop off the trim and just replace it, versus the whole box.

Rockler’s shelf pin drilling jig is on sale for $24.99 right now. If you want adjustable shelves, I’d pick that up, it’ll make the drilling much easier, and this probably won’t be the last project you use it on. Shelves should be plywood.

I’ve gone through 10 or so rolls of iron-on edge banding, from HD/Lowes, on various projects, and have had good luck with it. I’ve not had any peel off yet, and I’ve used these on play kitchens/dollhouses for a 3 year old, so they can take abuse. Once you get all your parts cut, prior to assembly, iron this on to any exposed edges. I leave it a couple inches long when I iron it on. Then, I use a pair of wire snips to cut it to within 1/8” of the length, and a block plane to flush up the edging all around. When painted, it’ll look like a solid wood edge.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

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pcox

25 posts in 228 days


#5 posted 04-27-2016 11:48 PM


Do you need/want a face frame?

I’d sit the sides on the bottom, and pocket-screw the sides to the bottom from the outside. Then attach the top in the same way. A fixed shelf in the middle, pocket-screwed to the sides from the underside, adds additional strength to the box. I’d leave the top/bottom 1/2” shorter than the sides, and rabbet the sides 1/2”. This would allow you to put a 1/2” back on, pocket screws in the top and bottom into the back, and glue/brads (or glue and clamps) to hold the back into the rabbeted sides.

Thanks for your suggestions BinghamtonEd. Just a few comments/questions…

1. Yes, I do like the idea of a face frame. I like that look.

2. If I use pocket screws on the outside, how do you suggest i hide them? Would I use plugs and then sand and paint or some other method? Would I bet better off drilling pocket holes on the inside of the cabinet and then use plugs and paint there?

3. On the back of the cabinet, I don’t have a router yet so I am not sure I can do a Rabbit. What would be the next best option for attaching the back and making it look nice?

Thanks!

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pcox

25 posts in 228 days


#6 posted 04-27-2016 11:50 PM

JBrow, thanks for your thoughtful comments! Very helpful!

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BinghamtonEd

2281 posts in 1833 days


#7 posted 04-28-2016 01:29 AM

Put the pocket holes on the outside when possible, since this will be painted. They’re much easier to sand smooth on the outside. I usually glue the plugs in and use extra glue, so it fills any gaps around the actual plug itself, they’re not exactly precision cut, but close. I’ve found the easiest way for me to flush them up after the glue has dried is to chisel or flush cut saw them close to flush, then go at them with a block plane or sander. If you have any gaps or rings to fix, Timbermate wood filler is the best I’ve used, it’s so much easier to get good results with that other stuff I’ve tried.

If you’re doing a face frame, you would be fine do with just nail on a 1/4” or 1/2” back, or cut it to fit inside the side and pocket screw it to the sides from the back. But, the face frame should give some structure, and the back would be less important.

Most importantly, be sure to post up the project when it’s done!

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

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pcox

25 posts in 228 days


#8 posted 04-28-2016 10:56 AM

OK, I have started a Sketchup file to plan this project. This is the first time I have used Sketchup and I am not sure if I can actually post the plan files here or not but if so and if that would be useful, someone can advise me on that.

Below is a screen shot of the plans I have started. I have drawn out the two sides mounted on the inside edge of the top and bottom. And then I am showing the number of shelves that I want. I may alter the spacing slightly on the top shelves. My first question though is how to mount the shelves. I don’t really need adjustable shelves and then based on your comments on pocket screws, I am worried it might be difficult to deal with pocket screw holes on these inside shelves. What do you suggest on this? Should I install cleats to mount the shelves on or will this look bad/jakeleg? Maybe I just need to buy a router and cut dados? (And then I could also rabbit in the back.)

And then on the Face Framing and Trim…

I have in mind that the face frame will cover the outside edges of the cabinet and then also cover the 2nd shelf up as this is kind of a divider between the bottom section that will be for laundry baskets and the top section that will be towel shelves. I am assuming 1×2 material, that I believe is actually 3/4×1 1/2. Is this what you would use?

Also, along with the Face Frame I believe I need some sort of skirt to cover the legs and trim out the bottom and then I need some sort of trim at the top. And I am not sure how to lay this out along with the face frame.

So these are the areas where could use some specific guidance. Thanks!

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BinghamtonEd

2281 posts in 1833 days


#9 posted 04-28-2016 01:31 PM

It’s not going to be difficult to deal with the holes from the pocket screws, it’ll just be somewhat of a pain/annoyance since you’ll have so many to deal with. You may also find that as you use this more, you wish you’d had adjustable shelves. Or, maybe not.

Looking at your sketchup, my thoughts are :
- The bottom, and two shelves on the deeper bottom part get pocket screwed in, no need to fill those holes. They’re on the underside of the low shelves, so unless someone is laying on your laundry room floor, they won’t be seen.
- Shelf pin holes on the sides for adjustable shelves. If you want to dress it up a bit, you could add shelf pin sleeves, but not necessary here.
- Add three pieces of face frame to the upper section as well, along the sides and top. This will keep the look more uniform from top to bottom. 3/4” thick material is good for the face frames. 1.5” or greater works well because you can get two pocket screws side-by-side on the rails/stiles.
- With those legs I linked to earlier, you could use some base molding from HD or Lowes, attached to the plinth clips, to give the bottom that trimmed out look you’re going for. Here’s a picture of what I mean (these don’t use the legs/plinths, but just an example of adding pre-made base modling to trim it out). I did the face frame, with an extra wide rail on the bottom, and then attached molding to the bottom and under the top:

Edit : The other bonus to adding the trim, is it covers the ends of the top/bottom panels.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

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JBrow

818 posts in 384 days


#10 posted 04-28-2016 04:01 PM

pcox,

It never occurred to me until looking at your Sketch-Up rendering. As already discussed, mounting the top and bottom inside the sides eliminates the raw edges of the plywood visible from the sides at the top and bottom. Attaching the top and bottom as shown means wood filler and some light sanding on these raw edges is needed to make the edges disappear under the paint. However, even though the raw edges disappear, the joint line will always be evident. Of course if the cabinet’s home is in an alcove, walls on both sides, or covered with moulding this detail does not matter.

Shelf pins of some style have the advantage of being largely invisible once installed. These can be either ones bought at the home center or simply ¼” dowels. With a little painstaking chisel work, the pins can be let into the underside of the shelves making the pins even less evident while keeping the shelves from moving around. Since you want fixed shelves, drilling a series of holes to make the shelves adjustable is unnecessary. However, all four holes per shelf must be precisely aligned with shelf pins, otherwise the shelves will rock. This is easily done with a simple shop made jig which is always referenced from the same plane when drilling a given shelf’s holes.

Shelf cleats require careful consideration, since these will be readily seen in the upper section of the cabinet, as drawn. The simplest solution is ¾” x 1-1/2” square stock, but talk about ugly. An alternative is to shop the moulding section at the home center for some moulding. By mitering a return piece to the moulding, its profile will be visible from the front and sides. Then the moulded cleats can be fastened in place. Careful alignment, front to back and top to bottom are still required.

The cleanest look is letting the fixed shelves into dados. That adds a few hundred dollars to the project cost for the router and bit. And then, a shop made jig of some kinds would have to be built to guide the router along precisely positioned straight lines (a very doable jig). If you plan to build more projects, adding a router to the tool collection would greatly extend you capabilities.

1” x 2” (3/4” X 1-1/2” actual dimensions) would be the material I would choose for the face frame. Poplar is inexpensive but dents easily. Maple is more resistant to dents and dings but costs more. Pine is another choice, between poplar and maple as far and dent and ding resistance, but, in my experience, does not take paint as well as poplar or maple. Other than maintaining a thickness of ¾”, the width of the face frame is matter of design. I like the 1×2 material because it works for both the stiles (vertical elements of the face frame) and rails (horizontal elements of the face frame). The narrower stock seems to work better for rails that cover the edges of the shelves.

If the drawing reflects the desired look of the cabinet when done, then the way the face frame is drawn is close but is missing two details. These details are 1) two rails and 2) extending the length of the stiles or moving the bottom up a bit.

The missing rails are the mid and bottom rails at the lower section of the cabinet. The mid-rail, to my eye, is required as a design element, since the lower section without a mid-rail looks incomplete. Nonetheless this is a design element and the look of the finished project must please you.

The stiles should be lengthened to accommodate the added width of the bottom rail, unless the bottom of the cabinet is raised. Whichever option selected, this dimensional change is ¾” assuming 1×2 face frame material and ¾” plywood are used.

On the other hand, I really like the BinghamtonEd’s base idea for covering the bottom edge. If you go with his suggestion, adjusting the length of the stiles or position of the bottom may be unnecessary. Similar to, but a little different is to build a separate base on which the cabinet sets, dressed up as BinghamtonEd described. If a base is not incorporated, a recessed toe kick consisting of a single board could be used.

Trim at the top probably requires something to which moulding is attached. This can be as simple as gluing some 1×2 material on the upper side of the top flush with the sides and front edges of the cabinet. Then angled crown or flat stock moulding can be easily applied at the top, brought down far enough to cover the top edges of the plywood and wrapped around the sides.

By the way, two questions. Is the cabinet freestanding, to set in a corner, or set in an alcove? Its location can impact design. Also, out of curiosity, who is the client? I assume you or the spouse.

BinghamtonEd,

The posted cabinet is very nice. It is a great design that was well executed!

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pcox

25 posts in 228 days


#11 posted 04-28-2016 05:10 PM

By the way, two questions. Is the cabinet freestanding, to set in a corner, or set in an alcove? Its location can impact design. Also, out of curiosity, who is the client? I assume you or the spouse.

BinghamtonEd,

The posted cabinet is very nice. It is a great design that was well executed!

- JBrow

Wow, I really appreciate all of the feedback I am receiving. This is great!

JBrow,
In response to your questions, this will be a free standing piece and will stand in place of the wicker chest in the picture below. And my wife and I are the client! :)

I have spent some more time on my drawing and have attached a new version below. The changes I have made are…

1. The sides still rest on the bottom but now the top is installed in between the sides. This will allow me to use pocket screws on the top so they won’t be seen.

2. I have added 2 1/2” legs

3. I have added to the drawing the full face frame I am considering along with the bottom and top trim work.

4. On the shelves, I will certainly install the first two shelves using pocket screws on the underside of the shelf and then on the upper shelves, I guess I will likely use shelf pins and holes. I will look at the jig that was suggested.

Now I think the only pocket screw holes I will need to worry about hiding are the ones on the bottom of the side panels.

And then I will need to decide how I will cover the front edges of the shelves that are not hidden with the face frame. I will look at the iron on edge banding and then I also watched a video where a small piece of wood is glued to the front edge.

So, any other suggestions on this?

And one more question, should I do most of my painting before or after the cabinet is assembled?

Thanks!

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BinghamtonEd

2281 posts in 1833 days


#12 posted 04-28-2016 06:15 PM

I’d still have a bottom rail on your face frame. Make the bottom trim piece just a bit shorter than the height to the bottom shelf, and it’ll have a stepped appearance (see picture above, there is a continuous face frame around the outside, but not on the shelves, which sit behind the face frame). The reasons I suggest this are : gives more rigidity to the face frame and makes it easier to keep the stiles aligned during installation; you won’t have to worry about a gap between the applied bottom trim piece and your stiles; you have a rail on the top, if you don’t have one on the bottom, it seems like your cabinet would be deeper at the top trim than the base. And, since you’re adding the legs, the face frame could extend below the bottom shelf.

As for painting, I would paint all of the shelves, the inside of the sides, the back, and the face frame prior to assembly, and prior to drilling the shelf pin holes. Painting a cabinet that size after assembly is a lot more of a pain than it is before assembly, and you shouldn’t have any interior pocket holes that need filling. Then assemble everything, fill your exterior pocket holes, and paint the outside. I assume you’d be attaching your face frame with pocket screws from the outside?

If I have a line of pocket holes that I need to fill and paint over, I plug them, flush them up, apply a thin coat of Timbermate with a spackling knife down the side over the plugs, and sand it back flush with a sanding block. Before I did the Timbermate step, I noticed that, even though the plugs felt flush, there was some telegraphing of them through the paint.

For the shelf edges, the iron-on stuff will work fine. I’ve done both the iron-on way, and the hardwood trim way, and for something that’s going to get painted anyways, iron-on is just easier and faster. If the species match (maple iron-on and maple ply), it’ll look like a solid board even before painting it.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

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JBrow

818 posts in 384 days


#13 posted 04-29-2016 01:57 AM

pcox,

I was a little puzzled about the need for hiding pockets from pocket screws on the sides at the bottom:

“Now I think the only pocket screw holes I will need to worry about hiding are the ones on the bottom of the side panels.”

If you are speaking of the bottom of the cabinet on which the sides set, screwing up through the face of the bottom into the edges of the sides that set atop the bottom eliminates the need for pocket screws for this joint and keeps the fasteners hidden, since they will be on the floor side of the bottom of the cabinet.

Since you seem to have settled on shelf pins, the included sketch shows a simple shop-made shelf pin jig, drawn for three fix shelves. The Rockler jig mentioned by BinghamtonEd is a nice jig and it works well; the shop made jig is just cheaper. The holes are drilled on the center of the ¾” thick scrap where the spacing of the holes corresponds to the space desired for the shelf pins. The bottom end of the jig should be clearly marked BOTTOM to avoid turning it upside down when drilling holes. The entire bottom end of the jig rests on the mid-shelf and the edge of the jig is aligned with the front or back edge of the cabinet. The ¼” drill bit is guided by the jig and results in vertical alignment of all 4 shelf pin holes. Care is required to avoid drilling all the way through the side of the cabinet. Masking tape marking the depth can help solve this potential problem.

Veneer edge banding and solid wood as methods to conceal the raw edges of plywood should, in my view, be a decision driven by design. While veneer edge banding may be easier, if it is not what you and the wife really want, that decision could bug you every time you enter the bathroom. Since the design has evolved, I revisited what I think would be two viable approaches for using hardwood to cover the plywood edges. BinghamtonEd has done a good job describing the veneer edge banding technique.

Both approaches use shelf edge covering hardwood rails cut to the same length as the face frame rails and at least 1-1/2” wide. The first approach is to build the face frame as a unit including the shelf edge covering rails. The completed face frame assembly would resemble a ladder. After the face frame is applied to the cabinet, carefully mark the locations of the shelves and install the shelf support system so that when the shelves are installed, they align with the top edge of the shelf edge covering rails. The shelves would then be fastened to the shelf edge covering rails in a couple of places to draw the rail to the shelf. This approach could be tricky if shelf pins are used rather than cleats, but by discarding the tape measure and using what I will call story sticks that are carefully constructed should yield the accuracy required for positioning the shelves.

The second approach is similar, but the shelf edge covering rails are installed on the shelves and then the shelf edge covering rails secured to the face frame. The shelves are first installed in the cabinet temporarily. The locations of the shelf edge covering rails are marked for side to side alignment of the shelves. The shelves are removed and the shelf edge covering rails fastened to the shelves. The shelves are re-installed and then the shelf edge covering strips are secured to the face frame stiles. I presumed pockets screws for both approaches. However, glue and finishing nails or clamps could be used with the second approach for attached the shelf edge covering rails to the shelves.

I see nothing wrong with BinghamtonEd’s suggestion to paint before assembly. It certainly makes for very clean inside corners. However, if glue will be used to reinforce joinery, paint on the surfaces that receive glue can adversely affect the glue bond. My personal preference is to apply finish once the project is assembled, but I have pre-finished project components before assembly from time to time.

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pcox

25 posts in 228 days


#14 posted 04-29-2016 11:14 AM



pcox,

I was a little puzzled about the need for hiding pockets from pocket screws on the sides at the bottom:

“Now I think the only pocket screw holes I will need to worry about hiding are the ones on the bottom of the side panels.”

If you are speaking of the bottom of the cabinet on which the sides set, screwing up through the face of the bottom into the edges of the sides that set atop the bottom eliminates the need for pocket screws for this joint and keeps the fasteners hidden, since they will be on the floor side of the bottom of the cabinet.

Since you seem to have settled on shelf pins, the included sketch shows a simple shop-made shelf pin jig, drawn for three fix shelves. The Rockler jig mentioned by BinghamtonEd is a nice jig and it works well; the shop made jig is just cheaper. The holes are drilled on the center of the ¾” thick scrap where the spacing of the holes corresponds to the space desired for the shelf pins. The bottom end of the jig should be clearly marked BOTTOM to avoid turning it upside down when drilling holes. The entire bottom end of the jig rests on the mid-shelf and the edge of the jig is aligned with the front or back edge of the cabinet. The ¼” drill bit is guided by the jig and results in vertical alignment of all 4 shelf pin holes. Care is required to avoid drilling all the way through the side of the cabinet. Masking tape marking the depth can help solve this potential problem.

Veneer edge banding and solid wood as methods to conceal the raw edges of plywood should, in my view, be a decision driven by design. While veneer edge banding may be easier, if it is not what you and the wife really want, that decision could bug you every time you enter the bathroom. Since the design has evolved, I revisited what I think would be two viable approaches for using hardwood to cover the plywood edges. BinghamtonEd has done a good job describing the veneer edge banding technique.

Both approaches use shelf edge covering hardwood rails cut to the same length as the face frame rails and at least 1-1/2” wide. The first approach is to build the face frame as a unit including the shelf edge covering rails. The completed face frame assembly would resemble a ladder. After the face frame is applied to the cabinet, carefully mark the locations of the shelves and install the shelf support system so that when the shelves are installed, they align with the top edge of the shelf edge covering rails. The shelves would then be fastened to the shelf edge covering rails in a couple of places to draw the rail to the shelf. This approach could be tricky if shelf pins are used rather than cleats, but by discarding the tape measure and using what I will call story sticks that are carefully constructed should yield the accuracy required for positioning the shelves.

The second approach is similar, but the shelf edge covering rails are installed on the shelves and then the shelf edge covering rails secured to the face frame. The shelves are first installed in the cabinet temporarily. The locations of the shelf edge covering rails are marked for side to side alignment of the shelves. The shelves are removed and the shelf edge covering rails fastened to the shelves. The shelves are re-installed and then the shelf edge covering strips are secured to the face frame stiles. I presumed pockets screws for both approaches. However, glue and finishing nails or clamps could be used with the second approach for attached the shelf edge covering rails to the shelves.

I see nothing wrong with BinghamtonEd’s suggestion to paint before assembly. It certainly makes for very clean inside corners. However, if glue will be used to reinforce joinery, paint on the surfaces that receive glue can adversely affect the glue bond. My personal preference is to apply finish once the project is assembled, but I have pre-finished project components before assembly from time to time.

- JBrow

Thanks for these tips JBrow. All very helpful.

On the pocket screws, yes, I was speaking of the joinery between the side panels and the bottom. I had in mind that a fastener into end grain was not ideal so that is why I was trying to stay away from that. I understand that it is sometimes the only option but since this joint is weight bearing I thought it was not the best choice. But maybe I am wrong?

On the shelf pins, these are good tips.

On the shelf edges, here is what I was considering as an alternative to the iron on banding…

https://youtu.be/XvXLvuc33WA?t=22m24s

Finally, thanks for the tip on painting. I’ll research this a bit more.

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JBrow

818 posts in 384 days


#15 posted 04-29-2016 02:40 PM

pcox,

I understand your concern regarding the strength of the bottom-to-sides joinery method of which I spoke, driving screws through the bottom into the edges of the sides. Although perhaps counterintuitive, I suspect the strength of the bottom to side connection is stronger when screwing though the bottom into the edges of the sides than with pocket screws, but the pocket screw joint is strong enough. These, in my mind are two alternative methods, both of which would work well.

Since plywood is constructed so that both edge grain and end grain plys exist on all edges, there is always some edge grain that can be captured by a screw sunk into the edge of plywood. Likewise there is always some edge grain for the glue to grab. If course-threaded screws are used and the screws bite at least 1” into the sides, this joint, screw for screw, would, I suspect, be as strong if not stronger than pocket screws (since the bite of pocket screws is limited to a depth of less than ¾”). Increasing the length of the screw’s bite into the plywood edges makes this joint even stronger, an option not available with the pocket screw method. Adding glue at this joint, no matter the fastening method, will greatly strengthen the joint.

A force analysis can reveal weakness in any joint, including the butt joint where the cabinet sides rest on the bottom. Forces acting on the bottom/side joint are what I call 1) lateral force from racking, 2) downward force, and 3) uplifting force. The lateral force is tamed by attaching a back. The downward force is represented by the weight of the cabinet and is overcome by the design of the joint. The weight of the cabinet is borne by the bottom and not the fasteners, since the sides rest on the bottom. The fasteners serve only to keep the bottom from moving out of position. The last force is an uplifting force, where the weight of the bottom works to pull away from the cabinet. This force should only be active during construction and when moving the cabinet. Keeping the bottom from falling off the cabinet or the sides slipping out of position are the only forces that must be overcome by the fastening method.

I have learned a lot watching Norm. His method is a great approach if the shelves are recessed into the cabinet so that the front edge of the shelf does not encounter the face frame. The 2 approaches I previously for hardwood edge banding anticipate the shelf edging coming out and being flush with the face frame. In fact Norm’s approach also works even if the shelf sets flush with the face frame. If the shelf sets flush with the face frame, Norm’s approach would require notching around the face frame. No notching is required when the shelves are recessed.

I offer a couple of supplements to Norm’s instruction. It appeared that Norm cut the shelves and edging strips to length, lined up the ends, and then secured the edging strip.

Alternatively, leave the edging and shelf long when applying the edging. If the edging is first applied and then the shelf with its edging secured in place is cut to fit the cabinet, the end of the edging will line up perfectly with the shelf on each end. If this alternative is selected, ensuring the finish nails on the ends of the edging will not interfere with the flush cuts saves a lot of aggravation

Norm applied glue, the edging strip, and then nailed the strip into place so that the edging strip was perfectly flush with the top surface of the shelf. This is a fast and easy way to attach the edging, but usually requires a router to get the edging flush with the surface of the shelf. As the nails are driven, the glue, acting like a lubricant, allows the edging to slip out of position.

An alternative method is to first clamp the edging to the shelf with no glue and align the edging with the shelf surface. With the edging clamped so it cannot move, the edging is predrilled through the edging and into the shelf with small pilot holes for the finish nails. Remove the edging and drive the finish nails into the predrilled holes in the edging so that the tips of the nails emerge by about ¼”. At this point the shelf and edging have perfectly aligned holes and the finish nails pass through the edging and poke out a little on the surface of the edging where it attaches to the shelf. Now apply glue to the shelf, line up the nails with the predrilled holes in the plywood edge, and drive the finish nails home. If the sharp point on the finish nails is blunted with a light tape of the hammer, the nails may follow the pre-drilled holes a little better. The result is an alignment of the edging with surface of the shelf.

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