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Advice on my first big shelf/cabinet project

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Forum topic by m4778 posted 01-19-2022 03:45 PM 516 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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m4778

37 posts in 505 days


01-19-2022 03:45 PM

This is the first big project i’ll be undertaking so I am trying to do as much planning as possible and any input or experience you can provide would be greatly appreciated. My wife needs storage for her art room, so this is going to be a large open faced shelving/storage unit that holds art canvases as well as bins with supplies etc.

My thinking was to build this in 3 separate pieces that I would screw together once installed so it is easier to move in the future if necessary. Since the size of items she needs to store might be variable I was planning on making the small shelves all removable so she can change the height of the different sections as needed.

Although it isn’t clear from the picture, the back is 1/2in plywood that is recessed into the carcass with rabbets to hold everything solid since the shelves are removable (hopefully solid enough?).

Material:
  • 3/4in pine plywood for carcass and shelves
  • 1/2in sandeply for backer board and removable vertical storage dividers (not shown).
Dimensions (LxWxD):
  • Left and right sections: 72”x15.5”x24”
  • Center section: 72”x30”x24”
  • Rabbets for all 3/4in material are 1/4in
Questions:
  • I’m not quite sure if I am properly handling the bottom that sits on the floor, having it square and flat like that. It will be sitting on carpet btw.
  • Should I be using rabbets on the top piece or is it structurally fine with butt joints?
  • Can I get by on the outside sections without having any of the shelves fixed (all removable, dry dados I think they’re called?). I was hoping with the stiff 1/2in back board and plenty of nails it would be stiff enough without any fixed shelves.


12 replies so far

View wildwoodbybrianjohns's profile

wildwoodbybrianjohns

3225 posts in 1007 days


#1 posted 01-19-2022 04:55 PM

I think I would build this unit in 4 sections.
1. the bottom three compartments as one unit, with some type of base that is somewhat larger than the cabinet.
2. the two sides, maybe matching the size of the bottom cab.
3. then the center cabinet.

just my opinion.

-- WWBBJ: the first to compare a woman´s cheek to a rose was a poet. The second, an idiot. Dali

View SMP's profile

SMP

5313 posts in 1365 days


#2 posted 01-19-2022 05:01 PM

Personally I usually would have at least 2 fixed shelves on something that tall to avoid sides bowing etc and then the shelves popping out. I would also face frame the front to add visual as well as structural support. And I usually will leave the side pieces slightly long on bottom to make it sit better. Optionally can make little risers like kitchen/bath cabinets sit on.

View HarveyM's profile

HarveyM

164 posts in 3482 days


#3 posted 01-19-2022 05:21 PM

I think I’d put it on kitchen cabinet levelling feet with a toe kick and fasten it to the wall like an kitchen upper cab.

-- Just a Duffer

View squazo's profile

squazo

393 posts in 3104 days


#4 posted 01-19-2022 10:55 PM

allthough i feel you need a shelf fixed in the middle to kerp the sides from bowing, I also feel that if you build it the way you want and it does bow you could just fix one permanently later, after youve had a chance to use it and then youd know where you would want it.

View NohoGerry's profile

NohoGerry

59 posts in 169 days


#5 posted 01-20-2022 12:24 AM

I was going to see if there was anything I could add to this discussion-there isn’t.

I agree with every response here from the jocks and would incorporate each idea into the design.

Having built cabinets this size, all the advice you’re getting is on target-especially the leveling feet, and fastening to the wall input. Looking at these cabinet dimensions, tip-over is always a risk-regardless of the materials stored on the shelves.

Gerry

View m4778's profile

m4778

37 posts in 505 days


#6 posted 01-20-2022 04:36 PM

Thanks for all the input!

I’ve tweaked the design now to include a 2.5in toe kick at the bottom, and made the floor shelf a dado joint instead of just a butt joint. The toe kick faceplate isn’t shown but it will just be filling that gap on the bottom.

I’m not going to use any face frame on the rest of the front because my wife likes the look of the plywood sides.

I’m also now planning on fixing the bottom two shelves in each side unit to prevent bowing.

My plan for fasteners was to use glue and 1.25” 18ga brads on all the joints… Is that sufficient for this type of design?

View LumberJockMan's profile

LumberJockMan

33 posts in 259 days


#7 posted 01-20-2022 05:21 PM


My plan for fasteners was to use glue and 1.25” 18ga brads on all the joints… Is that sufficient for this type of design?

Yes, that is fine, I have built several cabinets this way and it worked.

View Tony1212's profile

Tony1212

695 posts in 3194 days


#8 posted 01-21-2022 02:36 PM



allthough i feel you need a shelf fixed in the middle to kerp the sides from bowing, I also feel that if you build it the way you want and it does bow you could just fix one permanently later, after youve had a chance to use it and then youd know where you would want it.

- squazo

+1 Emphasis on the ”if it does bow” part. A 1/2” backer may be overkill. I think 1/4” would be sufficient. You also might consider using 1/2” ply where the sides butt up against each other. 1 1/2” of ply will look very chunky from the front.

Also, a 2’ deep shelf is very deep. I made my workshop cabinets 2’ deep and if I were to do it again, I’d probably go 18”. You may want to mock up a small section (like a single shelf or two) with Amazon boxes and see how well it will work with stuff WAY in the back.

BTW, my shop cabinets are 2ft wide by 2ft deep by 4ft tall, made with 3/4” ply all the way around and 1/4” back. There is no face frame and no fixed shelves (all adjustable). This picture is from Oct 3rd 2015. Over 6 years and no bowing on the sides.

-- Tony, SW Chicago Suburbs

View LeeRoyMan's profile

LeeRoyMan

2729 posts in 1186 days


#9 posted 01-21-2022 02:51 PM



Thanks for all the input!

I ve tweaked the design now to include a 2.5in toe kick at the bottom, and made the floor shelf a dado joint instead of just a butt joint. The toe kick faceplate isn t shown but it will just be filling that gap on the bottom.

I m not going to use any face frame on the rest of the front because my wife likes the look of the plywood sides.

I m also now planning on fixing the bottom two shelves in each side unit to prevent bowing.

My plan for fasteners was to use glue and 1.25” 18ga brads on all the joints… Is that sufficient for this type of design?

- m4778


Might as well dado the top shelves also.
Just makes cutting and sizing easier to do all the same instead of having one different.

View kimballd's profile

kimballd

47 posts in 3223 days


#10 posted 01-21-2022 03:33 PM

My 2 cents, build a 2×4 base full width, 2.5” shy of full depth. Place on floor in desired position and shim level. Screw into studs. Place your three cabinets on pedestals and connect to the wall and each other. Cover pedestal with a piece of 1×4. You could rip pedestal to 3” if desired. Unless you’re planning to be rustic, may want to use birch or sande ply for carcases. Will finish up a whole lot better. And I would glue and screw your fixed shelves to the sides. They will be hidden and make the carcase much more stable. You also could eliminate the back plywood and place 1×4 cleats under lower fixed shelves and top. Screw through these into wall studs. The painted drywall is the ‘back’. One last thing, if you could live with 16” depth, you get three rips out of the plywood.

Good luck, Kimball

View SMP's profile

SMP

5313 posts in 1365 days


#11 posted 01-21-2022 03:35 PM


I m not going to use any face frame on the rest of the front because my wife likes the look of the plywood sides.

m4778

Just don’t let her see Michael Alms video on fancy plywood edge or she may want this

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_U4UMj07whs

View m4778's profile

m4778

37 posts in 505 days


#12 posted 01-21-2022 07:36 PM


Might as well dado the top shelves also.
Just makes cutting and sizing easier to do all the same instead of having one different.

- LeeRoyMan


I hear ya, but it just so happens that before I made the most recent design tweaks I had already cut two 14in pieces for those tops. Those were the first two pieces I cut sadly haha.

Also I do realize 24” is a bit on the deep size, but the purpose of this unit is for my wife’s art supplies, which include a lot of framed canvases which are easily 30”+ deep. So if it isn’t deep enough they’ll be falling out the front.

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