Gluing solid panels with caulk

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Forum topic by 747DRVR posted 1542 days ago 1024 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View 747DRVR's profile


199 posts in 1954 days

1542 days ago

I am making some white oak outdoor cabinets for my inlaws.The doors will be solid wood frame and panel doors.I was going to put the solid 1/4 inch panel in grooves like I usually do but now I am considering using rabbits in the frame.My question is would it be OK to glue the panels down with some caulk so the panels dont rattle around in our dry winters.These cabinets will be installed oudoors in the Florida Keys so I expect huge humidity changes.

10 replies so far

View Michael Murphy's profile

Michael Murphy

448 posts in 1602 days

#1 posted 1542 days ago

Panels should float in the frame. Grooves definitely. Large changes in humidity would mean large amounts of shrinkage\expansion. Fasten them in and you will end up with cracked panels and\or broken joints. Make sure you leave enough clearance to allow for the expansion if you build them when it is dry.

-- Michael Murphy, Woodland, CA.

View lew's profile


9938 posts in 2352 days

#2 posted 1542 days ago

Space Balls!!

No kidding! I’ve also heard of folks using the rubber strips that hold screens in place on storm windows and doors.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View MyFathersSon's profile


180 posts in 1910 days

#3 posted 1542 days ago

For reasons that escape me now – I have from time to time used rabbets instead of grooves.
The rabbets were deep enough to allow for a piece of 1/4” x 1/4” trim on the back to hold the panel in place.
Yes —Essentially creating a groove.
Just remember if you do this – to attach the back trim to the frame NOT the panel for reasons Michael mentioned.

-- Those who insist it can't be done - should politely refrain from interrupting those who are doing it.

View poroskywood's profile


614 posts in 1961 days

#4 posted 1542 days ago

Space Balls

-- There's many a slip betwixt a cup and a lip.--Scott

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 1580 days

#5 posted 1542 days ago

I knew there was a name for them SPACE BALLS, I remember having read about them just haven’t picked any up yet.

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

View 747DRVR's profile


199 posts in 1954 days

#6 posted 1542 days ago

MyFatherSon that is exactly how I was planning to build them.The reason for the rabbits is because the panels are a weird shape and a rabbit would make the panel easier to install than a groove.The reason I was thinking of the caulk is because I once read that a good way to make a substitute for spaceballs was by placing long strings of silicone caulk on some wax paper.When the caulk dries you can cut it up into different size pieces that goes into the groove.I thought about taking it a step forward and just putting to notthe caulk in and then adding the panel while the caulk was still wet.I was thinking that the caulk was flexible and weak enough to not split the wood.I think what I will do now is put a little bit of caulk in the rabbit and let it dry before I put in the panel

View scopemonkey's profile


182 posts in 2761 days

#7 posted 1542 days ago

I agree that space balls is a good idea. Another alternative I have used is to pin the panel with a brad from the back in the middle of the door. This prevents the panel from moving/rattling and still allows for expansion at the edges.

-- GSY from N. Idaho

View EZzinger's profile


8 posts in 1545 days

#8 posted 1542 days ago

While considering the unusual environmental circumstances, you may want to examine the availability of latex surgical tubing in various diameters as a possible cure for your dilemma. You have an unknown seasonal dimension change to deal with, so you may want to consider a deeper than conventional groove. You can also consider applying a clear coat of sealer to all cut parts prior to assembly in order to reduce this moisture dilemma.

View Knothead62's profile


2342 posts in 1558 days

#9 posted 1542 days ago

Humidity would take a backseat to hurricanes.

View mnguy's profile


159 posts in 1995 days

#10 posted 1542 days ago

I think what threw folks was your original post title “gluing with caulk”, when you were really on the same page as the space ball / tubing / screen spline folks. I think your idea of making a space ball by letting the caulk dry is a good one. I think you’d also be ok dropping the panel into a rabbet, putting a dab of caulk in your gap, letting that dry, then adding your trim on the back to hold the panel in.

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