Puzzled by carcass layout for cabinet

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Forum topic by Octavius posted 11-20-2011 10:03 PM 1483 views 1 time favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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60 posts in 3407 days

11-20-2011 10:03 PM

This cabinet is 32×40x8” (WxHxD). It looks to me that it is made from 1/2” stock. Given that, I can’t figure out how to make it – I mean, normally you would dado the sides to hold the shelves and dado the shelves to hold the partitions. Wouldn’t that make the wood very weak, especially the shelves, where you have a dado above and another below?

Also, the drawers run along runners set into the partions (a worthwhile addition I believe, as otherwise the drawers may fall on to the floor if you are not careful) How does one go about accurately positioning and attaching the runners?

Any thoughts greatly appreciated!

7 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3882 days

#1 posted 11-20-2011 10:11 PM

The easiest way to get all those vertical and horizontal
parts to line up would be dowels, in my opinion. Biscuits
would work too, but alignment with biscuits is less positive
compared to dowels.

The runners you would put in place before assembling the
case. Make your own jigs.

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3302 days

#2 posted 11-20-2011 10:23 PM

You’re right about the dados weakening the boards, but since each dado is filled with another board, the load is carried all the way to the bottom. If a row of vertical boards were removed, the thing would sag and eventually collapse.

These are tricky to build. Your dados have to be perfectly aligned so each drawer cavity is square.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View Byron's profile


92 posts in 2614 days

#3 posted 11-20-2011 11:12 PM

if you are worried about structure you can make the dados or slots very shallow on the vertical components to keep a larger amount of material. A very small shoulder is needed in this joint to hold weight downward. This would mean each section for a drawer would be its own piece of wood with two corresponding grooves, a lot of work.

If you half lap all the components making up the inner parts of the drawer there should still be enough strength in these parts. Dowels, tenons, or slots all would be a good way to attach the inner dividers to the outer carcass, but the strongest would be to cut a shallow groove for each one and mortise and tenon each side, you could even make them through tenons and follow it up by wedging the tenons, this also creates a stunning visual.

When it comes to side hung drawers or runner kicker side hung drawers are easier to fit. It seems the effect you are going for is having a stop on the drawer.

-- Byron Conn, Woodworking/Furniture Design at Rochester Institute of Technology,

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60 posts in 3407 days

#4 posted 11-21-2011 12:43 AM

WudnHevn – wow! That’s a brilliant idea!

I’m glad to get away from the idea of dados – like Sawkerf says, they would need to be totally perfectly aligned

and as Byron points out, a lot of work!

Ok, here’s the deal. I’ll build the carcass, as per WudnHevn’s plan. Pre-install the runners, using a jig, like

Loren recommends. Construct the drawers with half-laps, as per Byron – I like dovetails but not for 24 drawers.


I’ll glue and nail in a plywood back, into rabbets set into the sides and the top and bottom.

Initially I thought I would attach the sides to the top and bottom with box joints but I’m not sure how that would

look, if I made the whole thing out of cherry. Might look a bit agricultural.

It may look a bit better with a protruding top and bottom, as in the photo – just nail (or screw) them together?


View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5623 posts in 3947 days

#5 posted 11-23-2011 05:24 AM

How about trying take your sheet stock for the interior segments; pick the one sheet to be cut into all the interior vertical segments; lay out your runners along this sheet, spacing them as they need to be spaced along the vertical of the cabinet; cut the vertical portions from this sheet (this leaves you with the runners absolutely aligned); cut joints (very deep bridal joints, not sure of the terminology) like the joints that the cardboard dividers have in liquor bottle boxes; in a similar fashion (but without the drawer runners) cut the horizontal shelves from the second sheet of material and notch in a fashion that corresponds to the above ‘bridal joints’.I would then dado the ends of the vertical and horizontal pieces to the external carcass components…

If you did want to run dovetails I would suggest cutting them before cutting the individual verticals from the sheet, this way they have to be evenly spaced (not necessarily correctly spaced just evenly spaced LOL).


-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View Octavius's profile


60 posts in 3407 days

#6 posted 11-23-2011 09:58 AM

Mark says ”...the joints that the cardboard dividers have in liquor bottle boxes…”

Yes, I like that idea also – thanks for the suggestion -would be stronger too when glued up.

Actually, I was going to make this out of solid wood -I have some nice pieces of cherry that I’ve been saving.


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60 posts in 3407 days

#7 posted 12-05-2011 12:50 PM

OK, I’ve had an idea. How about using WudnHevn’s idea, but turning it 90 degrees. That is, have solid shelves for the drawers to sit on and have the rails running vertically. The glued-joints between the shelves and vertical rails would be mostly endgrain but I’m thinking would give enough support to prevent the shelves sagging.

Whaddya think?

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