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Forum topic by jeth posted 09-03-2010 05:57 PM 1046 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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258 posts in 2800 days

09-03-2010 05:57 PM

Topic tags/keywords: joining

Hi all.. I am sure that the information I am looking for here is available on this forum many times over, but as the keywords tend to be common to many themes I am finding myself lost in the search process without defintive answers, so please excuse if I am asking the same old stuff…

I have been working with wood for a good few years, but until recently had mostly worked with sheet goods (speaker boxes)... Now that I find myself working with furniture and solid wood more I am realising how much there is to know and understand, and how little of it I do!

I am about to undertake a project for a largeish entertainment centre, not built in, a low cabinet type design. The project will be constructed of solid wood, not sure what as yet, was to be off to hunt for material today but rain stopped play :( My main doubts concern fixing the top panel onto the main structure of the cabinet. Reading around I have become aware of the need to account for wood movement, just wanted to clarify a few things (as I said a prolonged search hasn’t found any direct answers)..

I had imagined the panel to be simply made of edge jointed planks, possibly 2×12” or 3×8” to get the 24” width required. The side panels of the cabinet would have the grain following the same direction as the top (but at 90deg obviously) .. in this case is there still a problem for the top to be fixed directly glued down onto those side panels? I have seent hat where cross grain is involved, such as a table top sitting on an apron this is a no-no, but remain unsure if the same applies where there is not a crossgrain connection.
The top will not have a protruding lip, but be flush cut with the cabinet, in which case I am concerned that an unglued joint will result in this top edge not remaining fulsh for too long. I have seen reference to the idea of gluing the front edge of a panel but leaving the other edges unglued to all ow for movement, is this a practical solution or should I leave the entire top floating screwed from below using cleats with slotted/oversize holes for the screws?

Apologies once again as I’m sure this is more of the same for you guys but been on the search all morning and still unsure!

4 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4181 days

#1 posted 09-03-2010 06:33 PM

The easiest way to think of it is that your solid wood top is going to shrink and grow with moisture changes. So whatever it is attached to must be able to accommodate that.

Let’s say your entertainment center was made like a box with a top, a bottom, a left side, and a right side. You could join those four sides together with the grain all running the same direction and, in theory, you would not have a problem because the entire box would expand and contract together. On the other hand, if you constructed the bottom and sides out of plywood, complete with shelves the made the whole thing rigid, and then screwed your solid wood top onto it, you are likely to have a problem because the top will be trying to push the sides apart or pull them together.

I use these. You screw them into the underside of the top and let the other end ride in a groove cut into the apron (or whatever you are attaching to).

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View jeth's profile


258 posts in 2800 days

#2 posted 09-03-2010 06:39 PM

Ok.. thanks for the reply.. so in that case as the whole carcass will be a series of edge joined boards with the grain running in the same direction (“around the box”) I should be ok fixing the top permanently? This is the point on that I wa sreally unclear about. I guess that due to my previous experience with different kinds of construction I just feel that a piece not fully fixed is going to resput in a visible joint that leaves the piece looking not so solid, and am concerned that that flush front edge will not want to stay flush.

View vicrider's profile


179 posts in 2861 days

#3 posted 09-03-2010 06:43 PM

Wood movement over time is a problem at a joint only if the grain direction is not aligned. If the grain of your top and sides are in alignment there are several options for the joint from dovetails, screws and plugs, biscuits, to butt joints. For casework (not a table top) the most secure joint is dovetailed, however this takes time and adds cost to the piece. My selection would be determined by the quality of the piece, the design, and whether the joint would be visible.

Are you saying that you would use 2x or 3x stock for the top? That seems heavy to me for a low entertainment center. I would suggest 3/4 stock with strategically placed uprights for support.

I use dadoes with clips for table tops since the grain between the top and aprons are usually at opposing directions.

Hope this helps.

-- vicrider

View jeth's profile


258 posts in 2800 days

#4 posted 09-03-2010 06:56 PM

Thanks, thats exactly the confirmation I was looking for, and has put my mind at ease regarding some previous pieces I had joined with screws and plugs :)

The stock I use will depend on what I find when the rain lets off so i can go look for it. Here wood is very roughly machined into boards, usually by hand with a chainsaw and very rarely comes cut to an extact measurement, though usually in board form it will be around an inch with a little to spare, so once prepared I am expecting to be using 3/4 or a little more as the final thickness.

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