solid panel joining issues

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by fr8train posted 05-28-2012 07:07 PM 2239 views 1 time favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View fr8train's profile


19 posts in 3463 days

05-28-2012 07:07 PM

Topic tags/keywords: joining cherry question

Gentlemen (and ladies).

Happy Memorial Day to all of you.

I am in the process of making a (mostly) solid cherry entertainment center….. the “mostly solid cherry” is where I am running into an issue.

I designed this as I went along, and realized that I might have two problems that I didn’t forecast:

a) a joining problem between the plywood top and bottom with the solid cherry sides (cherry expanding/contracting with changes in humidity and the plywood not doing so). The carcass is birch plywood on the top and the bottom, but my sides and middle sides I made out of solid cherry boards. My plan was to glue the plywood to the simple dado joints I made in the cherry sides and then to reinforce with pocket-hole screws. Now that I am thinking about it, I think that this might not allow for the expansion/contraction of the cherry sides and the sides may crack over time.

b) Related to the expansion/contraction of the sides, my drawer slides (attached to the cherry side panels) were going to follow the same concept…. simple strips of plywood either glued or screwed to the inside of the solid cherry sides….. apparently, however, this will not allow for the expansion of the wood. The attached link only sunk my heart further, as the diagram on page 19 of this article was exactly what I did last night…. luckily for me, I didn’t glue the drawer slides up, but simply attached the strips with screws (as I planned on finishing both sides of the panels as mentioned before).

Necessary Background information:

There are four solid wood panels (two outside and two inside). They are all constructed of solid cherry boards, planed to about 3/4” and measure 20” in width with the boards running in a vertical direction. The expanding and contracting problem is horizontal.

I didn’t yet treat the cherry or the plywood. I plan on shellacing both sides of the cherry wood for sealer, then using a water-based dye on the show sides of the panels to slightly darken the cherry, finishing coat using shellac again. This, I believe, will have slightly minimize the amount of expanding and contracting.

I constructed a solid cherry top, but don’t forecast having an expansion/contracting problem with it as I am drilling a series of oversized holes in the top of the carcass and will attach it the top from underneath so it “floats” on top of the carcass.

The big questions are for both problems….. how do I join the plywood top and bottom carcass and how do I join the drawer slides to the solid panels so the panels don’t crack over time and yet my cabinet will remain solid?

I figure that I might be able to oversize the screw holes in the drawer slides, but I am worried that this will cause too much shift…. the drawers are rather heavy (constructed of poplar with cherry faces).

I have no idea what to do about joining the solid side panels with plywood top and bottom.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again!


6 replies so far

View Lifesaver2000's profile


551 posts in 3137 days

#1 posted 05-28-2012 08:04 PM

I am currently building a solid walnut entertainment console. I used glued up end and middle panels also, with the boards running vertically. Since the middle shelf and top are also glued panels and I ran the grain on everything the same direction, I don’t have the panel attachment problem you have, but I will be on putting drawer slides that will be across the grain.

My plan is to firmly attach the front end of the drawer slide, then attach the rest through holes that will allow for the wood movement. This way the slide won’t shift as you were concerned about, but the wood will be allowed to expand/contract without damage (I hope!)

Depending on your design, you might use these to attach the plywood to the panels:

but without seeing your design it is hard to say.

Something I have seen done on woodworking videos also is to only firmly attach or glue the plywood in the middle quarter or third of the dado, and let the rest float, if this will work with your design. It would depend on how the movement would effect the rest of the structure.

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2312 days

#2 posted 05-28-2012 08:51 PM

Entertainment centers usually will have a lot of heating and cooling due to the electronics in them. But seeing the solid wood is on the sides and not the top, and if you shellacked everything before assembly and insure the end grains are sealed properly, you shouldn’t have a problem I would think, but I’ll wait to hear what the pro’s say.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View fr8train's profile


19 posts in 3463 days

#3 posted 05-30-2012 02:47 AM

Thanks…. Researching some options…!

View fr8train's profile


19 posts in 3463 days

#4 posted 05-30-2012 02:49 AM

Thanks for the reply…. I figured it out… I am going to use these and will use oversize holes in the plywood allowing the cherry to shift with the changes in humidity. I will take some pics to explain to others with the same challenge…. Smaller steel threads will work well for the drawer slides….. Thanks for the help!

View bondogaposis's profile


4765 posts in 2376 days

#5 posted 05-30-2012 03:56 AM

If you want this project to last a long time I’d redesign it. Think about frame and panel for the outside ends and plywood panels for the interior dividers. Tough I know, when you got so much invested in your concept, but if you go w/ plan A the sides will split eventually. Use slotted holes for the drawer slides, you only have to make the slots on one end.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View fr8train's profile


19 posts in 3463 days

#6 posted 06-02-2012 07:35 AM

Thanks for the help….. I really appreciate the detailed explanations.

Here is what I came up with….. Picture speaks a thousand words…..

I can do a slight redesign (everything is already cut…. drawers, shelves, doors, etc. so I don’t want to go into the majors redesigning the whole thing). I can add support to the top and bottom then attach the support to the sides using brass threaded inserts and slots in the support.

The first (amateur) drawing is the front view of the carcass….. the second is a side view from the inside of the carcass with the “repairs” I had in mind…

The drawing to the right of the second picture shows the support (E) attaching A (Side) to B (top), but I would use the same concept to attach A to C (bottom), D (Middle vertical panel) to B, and D to C on both sides of the carcass.

Opinions are welcome!

Thanks again for the help.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics