In need of some design assistance

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Forum topic by IHRedRules posted 12-10-2016 04:43 PM 474 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View IHRedRules's profile


115 posts in 1673 days

12-10-2016 04:43 PM

My aunt found some library card drawers and wants me to build my sister a case for the card drawers. This is going to be a Christmas gift, so I need to stop putting it off and get busy.

The reason that I have been putting it off, is I just don’t know how to properly construct it. I have 2 ideas for the construction. Option 1 would be 3/4” plywood sides with a hardwood top and base. Option 2 would be essentially building the 2 sides just as one would build 2 shaker style doors (1/4” plywood panel with 3/4” hardwood “frame”). Regardless of the way I go, I am struggling with how to safely mount the top and base to the sides, and make it solid, yet allow for wood movement. I would certainly appreciate any ideas you have.

2 replies so far

View rwe2156's profile


3163 posts in 1678 days

#1 posted 12-10-2016 05:52 PM

“Sister case” implies this is match to the original so how is it built?

If you go with ply, then I would also go with ply for the base and top. There is no downside to this other than if you need a profiled edge you will have to attach an solid wood strip, which is ok for the bottom, but not so good for the top.

There are several ways to attach top that manage movement such as cleats attached to the sides with enlarged holes middle and rear, slots and cleats, figure 8 clips, etc.

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

View JBrow's profile


1366 posts in 1117 days

#2 posted 12-11-2016 02:49 AM


I agree with rwe2156, especially since you only have 13 days to build and apply finish the project. Using plywood for as many parts as possible can speed things up a bit. I assume the library drawers will be functional and thus require some slides or guides. The shaker style sides would take more time to build and would require stiles wide enough to allow for mounting these slides. However, Shaker style sides would look nicer to my eye.

You generally asked about construction although perhaps you were only asking about material for the case sides. So for what it is worth regarding case construction, I personally like dado and tongue joinery for joining the sides, bottom, face frame, and back. When the dados are accurately positioned, I like how nicely the case comes together and the strength imparted. Snug fitting dados or rabbets into which components fit could also work.

If you elect a solid wood top and/or bottom, including corner blocks glued and reinforced with screws and that include elongated slots would provide four points for attaching the top and/or bottom with screws. An alternative to corner blocks for the solid wood bottom would be to capture the bottom in dados or dovetailed slots milled in the sides and a deep dado in the back. Only the front 2” to 3” of the bottom gets glued in place in the side dado or dovetailed slot (it could also be glued to the face frame); allowing any expansion or contraction to occur to the rear of the otherwise free floating portion of the bottom. The deep dado in the back would offer the space for wood movement. The dado in the back could be avoided if the back rests on top of the bottom so the bottom can expand and contract under the lower edge of the back.

If the top is edge banded plywood, stop dado and tongue or stop dado joinery could be used to glue the plywood top to the sides and back.

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