Attaching back panel

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Forum topic by Csumners posted 02-13-2018 04:26 PM 511 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 997 days

02-13-2018 04:26 PM

Topic tags/keywords: back panel assembly help

I’m fairly new to woodworking and Lumberjocks and I need help.

I am working on a solid maple desk for a family member and am afraid that I may have designed/worked myself into a corner. I am afraid of wood movement with changing humidity and am afraid to use pocket holes.

The desk has drawers on the left side with solid panels for the sides and no frame. I have the two side panels and bottom pieces ready to be assembled but am not sure how to attach the back panels with the wood movement.

The wood grain is wrong on the back panel in the picture, the panel will be glued up long ways instead of how its shown in the picture. How would you guys go about attaching the back panel?

I appreciate any help!

8 replies so far

View bbasiaga's profile


1243 posts in 2882 days

#1 posted 02-13-2018 04:44 PM

As long as the grain runs vertically on all 3 sides, it should be fine. The sides will grow front to back, and the back will grow left to right. They should not constrain each other. Growth along the length (up and down), would be negligible.

As far as connecting the sides to the back, you seem to have already cut them, so that may limit joinery options. What were you originally planning to do? Can you do a rabbet on each of the sides and fit it to a mating one on the back? Or you could dowel them together if they need to butt up like in your picture.


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View Loren's profile


10725 posts in 4535 days

#2 posted 02-13-2018 04:53 PM

If you haven’t made the drawers yet you
can cut a rabbet for the panel plus leave some
room for a 1/4 round or square molding you’d
miter and nail in to hold the panel in the rabbet.

The edges of the panel can be rabbeted too
so it has a 1/4” tongue all the way around.
If you used a 1/2” thick molding to hold it in
the rabbet in the case would be 3/4” deep.

View Robert's profile


4059 posts in 2368 days

#3 posted 02-13-2018 04:56 PM

You are correct to not use pocket screws along the end grain edges. That would be a disaster.

If at all possible I would re do the back panel with the grain oriented horizontally. This elimiates any possibility of sideways expansioni. Best to either lapped boards or a frame and panel system rather than a solid panel.

However if you do use a solid panel, pin at the top and attach with slotted holes to allow movement downward. This is the same principle as a solid wood drawer bottom.

If you can’t do a panel with horizontal grain then I would just use plywood in a rabbet.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View Csumners's profile


5 posts in 997 days

#4 posted 02-13-2018 05:03 PM

Thanks for the quick reply Brian! The grain will run vertically on all sides.

I do have the sides and the bottom panel glued up, but I have not trimmed them down to size yet. I should have enough extra to add a rabbet to the sides. I had thought about using a rabbet to do this, but was afraid as the back panel growing/shrinking would mess with the side panels too much.

Would a dado on the side pieces be a better approach?

View bandit571's profile


26745 posts in 3570 days

#5 posted 02-13-2018 05:06 PM

Treat the back panel like a Frame & Panel set up. No glue needed. Panel sits loose in grooves all the way around it.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View Csumners's profile


5 posts in 997 days

#6 posted 02-13-2018 05:09 PM

Loren, thanks for the ideas. I had not thought of anything like that. That is definitely an idea to keep in mind that might help dig myself out of a hole!

rwe2156, I will definitely plan it a little bit differently the next time I use something solid! I normally use plywood and don’t think about it, I guess that is one of the reasons I didn’t think of it in this design.

I appreciate the help guys!

View Csumners's profile


5 posts in 997 days

#7 posted 02-13-2018 05:10 PM

Treat the back panel like a Frame & Panel set up. No glue needed. Panel sits loose in grooves all the way around it.

- bandit571

Thanks Bandit, I think that is the route that I will go.

View Csumners's profile


5 posts in 997 days

#8 posted 02-17-2018 11:12 PM

Gentleman, I appreciate the help! I still have a long ways to go but here is what I wound up doing.

I will try to remember to take pictures as I continue the build and will post it all as a project.

I am enjoying Woodjocks and learning a lot!

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