Rabbit or biscuit joint on MDF

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Forum topic by Calgaryguy posted 07-24-2012 05:46 PM 4445 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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7 posts in 2367 days

07-24-2012 05:46 PM

Rabbit or biscuit joint?

I’m going to building a couple of quick and dirty rolling shop cabinets out of MDF but I haven’t really joined much MDF in the past. Am I ok to use biscuits joints for the outer frame or should I rabbit the sides before attaching them to the top bottom. Also, if I do use a rabbit joint should I re-enforce it with dowels?

*I’m pretty new to woodworking over all so if this seems like a silly question that explains why, ;)

7 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3853 days

#1 posted 07-24-2012 06:00 PM

Either one. Cutting rabbets may throw more MDF dust
around your shop – so that’s one reason to use something

A rabbet doesn’t normally need reinforcement with dowels. I’ll
glue and shoot brads or staples through the rabbet top hold it
and you get some sheer strength from the brads or staples,
just like with dowels but quicker.

Dowels alone are pretty sturdy for cabinets if you use enough
of them and put enough glue in the holes. Commercial
dowel joints in cheap furniture fail due to sloppy automated
gluing and poor design. Dowels if used well are fine for

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404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 3175 days

#2 posted 07-24-2012 07:46 PM

If these rolling cabinets are going to be subjected to heavy loading, you might consider making them so the bottoms take all the weight…

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Joe Lyddon

10331 posts in 4258 days

#3 posted 07-24-2012 08:05 PM


A very good Tip!

Thank you!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

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Mainiac Matt

8566 posts in 2534 days

#4 posted 07-24-2012 08:15 PM

I used both on my recent bench with drawers and both worked fine….

I also used but joints with a brad every 6” or so and that worked fine as well…

Just use good wood glue (I used TB III) and enough of it.

I don’t think it’s hard to get a joint strong enough so that the MDF will fail at some other point.

-- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View Calgaryguy's profile


7 posts in 2367 days

#5 posted 07-24-2012 08:53 PM

Thanks guys. The cabinets will definitely be taking on some weight (not lots mind you) so I’ll definitely follow up with renners advise on making the bottoms take the weight. If I can simply use but joints together with brad nails that will be the way I’ll go. I’ll probably still throw a few biscuits in just to be on the safe side, besides having a few should with getting things lined during assembly.

All and all that should speed things up, save on wear and tear on my router bits and keep the dust down to boot.

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Joe Lyddon

10331 posts in 4258 days

#6 posted 07-24-2012 09:44 PM

IMHO, biscuits are for alignment during glue-up… and that’s all…
... actually, they weaken the overall joint. (from what I’ve read / heard)

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View cutworm's profile


1075 posts in 2999 days

#7 posted 07-24-2012 10:37 PM

I tell ya. I really learn a lot on this site. All of those suggestions sound great tips. Nice touch on the sketch Renners. A picture is worth 1000 words for sure.

-- Steve - "Never Give Up"

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