cabinet glue up

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Forum topic by DoctorJ posted 03-06-2011 02:28 AM 2292 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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43 posts in 3223 days

03-06-2011 02:28 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question clamp

I’m making a two-side cabinet out of 3/4” birch plywood, roughly 30” high, 18” wide, 24” deep and will have drawers on one side (about 14” deep) and shelves on the other (about 9” deep) . I’ve cut the ends, bottom and interior divider that separates the drawer side from the shelf side and have run dados/rabbets so I can glue them up. The bottom sits in rabbets cut into the bottom of the end pieces and the divider sits into dados cut into the bottom and both sides. I will attach triangular blocks in the upper, corners of the drawer and shelf compartments to give me a place to screw the top down.

Here’s my question. When I do a dry fit assembly, I can clamp the bottom into the rabbets on the two ends and will plan to glue and nail the bottom to the ends and to the bottom of the divider. I’m reluctant to shoot pins or nails into the “show” side of the ends and am hoping that glue will be sufficient. I can’t seem to find a good way to clamp along the height of the cabinet to make sure the divider is fully seated in the dados on either end. I can clamp at the top and bottom, but the center is left to chance.

I’ve considered making some kind of caul that would apply pressure across the side, but I think it it will tend to bow in when pressure is applied.

Any help would be most appreciated.

Doctor J

PS – my apologies if this type of question has already been asked and answered but I couldn’t find a forum search tool. There has to be one, right?

5 replies so far

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3010 days

#1 posted 03-06-2011 05:09 AM

I have had good results with just gluing and clamping 3/4” plywood panels together. I have also toe nailed into the non show side of the joint with an air nailer to avoid using a clamp in some cases.

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

View Loren's profile (online now)


10476 posts in 3674 days

#2 posted 03-06-2011 05:18 AM

If you can, glue up the sub-assemblies (perhaps your dividers) first,
tight and square. Better to do the glue-up in 2 or 3 predictable
stages than 1 crazy one.

At times, dry clamping the whole shebang won’t show you how to
glue it up all at once.

I usually use white glue for furniture because it has a long set-time.
Yellow sets about twice as fast, making glue-ups more hectic.

View levan's profile


472 posts in 3006 days

#3 posted 03-06-2011 06:46 AM

For the partition and ends,I normally use screws up through the bottom. Screwing into the edge of ply is usually not a good practice, but i feel in this case it is just pulling things up until the glue drys. If you attach the base to the bottom before glue up, the bottom should be very flat and will not require much pressure to seat the verticals. You may want to consider using cabinet squares like these to hold things square during construction. Check out Resurrected’s forum topic best wishes

-- "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right". Henry Ford

View allmyfingers's profile


40 posts in 2673 days

#4 posted 03-06-2011 04:41 PM

a few kreg pocket screws work great and give you “instant” clamping

-- I cut it 3 times and it was still too short?!?

View DoctorJ's profile


43 posts in 3223 days

#5 posted 03-06-2011 07:40 PM

Thanks for the help— I think I see a good solution from the mix of ideas you’ve offered. I’ll assemble the bottom and divider first – that’ll be very easy. Then I can attach that subassembly to the sides using glue and nails on the bottom and pocket screws to attach the divider to the sides on what will be the drawer side (hidden) so there are no surface screws or nails. The big squaring clamps looks great as well. Not sure about the white glue – I’ve never used it. I don’t think I have a problem with open time.

What a great resource to have such helpful advice!!


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