dado depth for shelving

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Forum topic by drax0r posted 06-17-2010 08:23 AM 2748 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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18 posts in 2936 days

06-17-2010 08:23 AM

I’m in the process of laying out plans for a modular entertainment center, double bookshelf, and bridge shelving unit that will be made entirely out of 3/4” plywood except for face frames.

What is the rule of thumb for setting the dado depth for shelves? My inclination is to go half-way, but I have seen some much shallower dados in similar applications and wondered what design or engineering reasoning went in to determining these depths.

4 replies so far

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 3799 days

#1 posted 06-17-2010 09:57 AM

The depth of a dado is half the thickness of the material it is going in.

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

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18 posts in 2936 days

#2 posted 06-17-2010 05:53 PM

That was my assumption, but then I saw Norm build one that was like 1/3.

In retrospect, I’m wondering if it had something to do with the fact that he was using solid hardwood rather than pine plywood…

View Ger21's profile


1074 posts in 3156 days

#3 posted 06-18-2010 04:35 AM

If you’re only using glue, then go half way. If you can use screws to hold it together, it can be as shallow as 1/8” deep.

-- Gerry,

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18 posts in 2936 days

#4 posted 06-18-2010 05:03 AM

I was planning to use finishing nails and glue.

I’ll probably end up going half-way, but this thing is going to be pretty monstrous in size when its all put together, so at some point I have to think less about the capacity of the shelves and more about the structural integrity of the piece as a whole.

If I remove too much material for shelf dados I think it would be in danger of failure by racking in certain directions.

  • Face frames removed for clarity (but should add some structural strength when applied)

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