Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 27

Thread: Cabinet construction. Dovetails strong enough?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Location
    Northeast WI
    Posts
    246

    Cabinet construction. Dovetails strong enough?

    I am starting construction of my plane till. I am making a 36" x 36" square cabinet with pine 1x8's. Would using dovetails to hold the outside frame together be good? Or is some other sort of joint more preferable.

    2 years ago when working with power tools i would have screwed it together using butt joints. Makes me shudder just thinking about it.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Longview WA
    Posts
    22,285
    Blog Entries
    1
    My washroom cabinets are made with dovetails and hold together well with all kinds of laundry supplies and canned food with no sign of a problem.

    Washroom Cabinet.jpg

    My suggestion is to have the tails on the vertical sides.

    Candy, my wife, really liked my 'lovetails':

    Washroom Lovetails.jpg

    The post is here > https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?135061

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Buresh View Post
    I am starting construction of my plane till. I am making a 36" x 36" square cabinet with pine 1x8's. Would using dovetails to hold the outside frame together be good? Or is some other sort of joint more preferable.

    2 years ago when working with power tools i would have screwed it together using butt joints. Makes me shudder just thinking about it.
    Jason,
    .
    you can't get much stronger than dovetails. But BTW, I'm just finishing a project with butt joints and cut nails. I expect it will last as long as I do.

    ken

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Location
    Northeast WI
    Posts
    246
    I have nothing against butt joints, but i used to just ram a screw in without pre-drilling and using an impact driver. Probably not the best construction.

    I would expect cut nails to do well

  5. #5
    Dovetails should be fine. About the only thing stronger would be finger joints (yes, they are stronger than dovetails because of the larger glue surface). Actually butt joints with pilot drilled gold screws from Menards would likely work as well, especially if the screws were angled so they got some side grain grab like a pocket screw.

    As for butt joints, my mother's kitchen cabinet drawers are plain rabbets held with nails and white glue, and they have held up for over 50 years with no failures.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Location
    Northeast WI
    Posts
    246
    I had been considering using a rabbet with screws or nails and glue.

    Im a little intimidated by doing so many dovetails, but i suppose its just a shop project and is good practice. I just didn't know if dovetails are good for casework too or mainly drawers.

    I think i will give dovetails a shot. Good practice

  7. #7
    Dovetails were pretty common for casework back in the day for joining pieces at corners where the grain went the same way. Interestingly, they weren't considered the "hallmark of craftsmanship" that they are today; they were just a quick and easy way (for those who did them day in and day out) to join wood together. Frequently they were hidden by veneer or mouldings, as showing joinery back then was considered sloppy work. Interesting how things have reversed today

    I did dovetails for both of my hand tool wall racks. They just sort of go with the whole hand tool storage thing. The advantage of using pine is that it is easy to cut, and if you completely mess up a piece, it isn't big deal to chuck it into the burn pile and start over.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2020
    Location
    St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    68
    Good glue and some brads in a butt joint are generally more than adequate for drawers and cabinets.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    South Coastal Massachusetts
    Posts
    6,207
    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Buresh View Post
    I had been considering using a rabbet with screws or nails and glue.
    That's the way I would do this.
    Dovetails were a necessity before modern glue arrived.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Posts
    168
    I'd be worried about how I'd mount the till to the wall if it isn't going to be resting on a counter top. Also, as Jim suggested, and unlike I did for my saw till, tails on the vertical sides.

    20200418_171023.jpg

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Location
    Northeast WI
    Posts
    246
    Thanks Jim. I just want to make sure whatever i do diesnt cause hundreds of dollars worth of planes to cone crashing to the ground

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Location
    Northeast WI
    Posts
    246
    I was planning on using a french cleat. I was going to mount a board flush with the back and then mount the mating board right into the studs

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Buresh View Post
    I was planning on using a french cleat. I was going to mount a board flush with the back and then mount the mating board right into the studs
    Be sure to screw the cabinet cleat into the sides of the cabinet. Also, even with the french cleat, it isn't a bad idea to screw/lag-bolt the back of the cabinet into the studs. That way there is no possibility that it could get knocked off the wall.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Longview WA
    Posts
    22,285
    Blog Entries
    1
    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Seemann View Post
    Be sure to screw the cabinet cleat into the sides of the cabinet. Also, even with the french cleat, it isn't a bad idea to screw/lag-bolt the back of the cabinet into the studs. That way there is no possibility that it could get knocked off the wall.
    Something noticed in many articles on cabinets, none of them get to in depth discussion about mounting to a wall.

    When delivering cabinets for the family furniture store we would even attach floor cabinets to the wall with an L-bracket due to being in an area subject to occasional earthquakes.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
    Location
    Santa Barbara, CA
    Posts
    78
    Dovetails would be the strongest joint for something like that. For my tool cabinet I screwed a ledger board into studs, then I could rest the cabinet on the board and screw through the back of the cabinet into more studs. I made the ledger board out of the same material as the cabinet and finished it to match. I think it is pretty unobtrusive. That’s an alternative to a French cleat.

    i agree with Jim’s comment though, I’ve always thought it odd that people gloss over how to mount things to a wall. It’s not that complicated and there are several approaches that work, but it is important to get it right.


    BD6C6A0A-9C21-419D-896A-C09365DD02EC.jpg

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •