please recommend top for cabinet

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Forum topic by fiddlejake posted 10-06-2012 11:40 PM 995 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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9 posts in 3507 days

10-06-2012 11:40 PM

Hi y’all,

I’m making a 54×18 frame and panel cabinet. I’m going to put a bookcase on top of it. The book case is 38×12 and will line up with the rear and right sides of the cabinet. Most of the weight will be on the 4 posts of the bookcase. I’m concerned about all that weight. I’ve considered buying a 1 inch thick plate of steel or gluing up a butcher block top with the end grain all pointing up.

What do you recommend?

Thanks so much!

10 replies so far

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2389 days

#1 posted 10-07-2012 12:09 AM

Gotta see a picture.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

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4769 posts in 2379 days

#2 posted 10-07-2012 12:49 AM

Yeah, hard to envision. The butcher block top could take more weight if the grain was oriented lengthwise to the cabinet. A 1” thick piece of steel seems extreme, more like the deck of an aircraft carrier than a cabinet.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 2951 days

#3 posted 10-07-2012 01:07 AM

You are kidding about the 1” thick plate aren’t you?

At about 62# per/sq/ft that would add approx 418 lbs to your cabinet.(+ or – a few lbs)

-- Life is good.

View jdmaher's profile


430 posts in 2607 days

#4 posted 10-07-2012 12:09 PM

Does the base cabinet have any interior support?

Last year I built a “bookcase” for my wife that is larger than that (72×30 base, 72×18 top). But it’s really four cabinets joined, so the middle of that length has great support (two base cabinet sides screwed together). The base cabinet top is hardwood-edged maple ply.

I would be concerned, in your case, about support for the upper cabinet in the middle of the length. But I’d just add some vertical support structure to the base cabinet in the middle of the legth. I would not add steel.

However, as Clint said, gotta have a picture to offer a pertinent suggestion.

-- Jim Maher, Illinois

View fiddlejake's profile


9 posts in 3507 days

#5 posted 10-07-2012 03:56 PM

Here are some pix of the cabinet. It’s in a temporary location right now. I haven’t started on the bookcase but it is minimal, with only 4 posts connecting the shelves.

View jdmaher's profile


430 posts in 2607 days

#6 posted 10-07-2012 07:51 PM

Looks nice!

No top rail in back ,huh? I’d consider adding one (supported on blocks glued and screwed to the back legs). Then, if the top is at least 5/4 (I might use 6/4), I believe it would be able to support an upper set of shelves (three, maybe four – so long as they are not too densley packed).

You could fit a vertical post, inside, back, beneath the new top rail, but I’m thinkin’ that’s unnecessary.

-- Jim Maher, Illinois

View Grandpa's profile


3259 posts in 2703 days

#7 posted 10-08-2012 03:36 AM

Have you got a lot of help to install that 1 inch plate steel top? Man that is heavy. Make the top out of the same stuff as the rest of the cabinet.

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3921 days

#8 posted 10-08-2012 03:01 PM

You are correct to be concerned about sagging in the middle, especially with a book case added to the top, and even more so if you fill it with books.

I have on occasion used angle iron myself and in your case behind/inside the top front rail. You could also use a piece of hardwood like a 2×6 tucked into the same spot. Otherwise it might be wise to put a centre stile in the middle behind the doors, and extend another leg under it

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View a1Jim's profile


117126 posts in 3605 days

#9 posted 10-08-2012 03:28 PM

It’s hard to see what the back is made of if it’s a 1/2” thick or more and attached properly you may be ok but considering you have a 50” span or more I would install at least a 3/4” by 4” horizontal member to the top edge of the back . The weight of the upper book case will rest mostly on you 4 legs but you do need to be concerned about the span. you need to be concerned about the base cabinets constitution more than the top, if the top is supported properly a 3/4” thick top will be more than enough. All of my concerns are based on the book shelf being filled with books rather than just lighter displayed items.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View fiddlejake's profile


9 posts in 3507 days

#10 posted 10-10-2012 01:49 AM

Thanks for all the suggestions. I think I’ll try to combine most of them into a solution.

Is a butcher block with the grain horizontal less prone to sagging than one with the grain oriented vertically? I would have thought that it would be the other way around.

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