Cabinet design question

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Forum topic by LSGss posted 12-05-2013 04:19 AM 1382 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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68 posts in 2530 days

12-05-2013 04:19 AM

Hello, this is maybe a dumb question but when building tall cabinets is there a rule or concept for how often to have a horizontal support such as a divider to perhaps keep the sides from bowing in or out. I’m sure there are other problems from not having enough support like racking etc. two examples I am thinking of is a kitchen pantry closet that I want to build that will be about four feet wide and will have slide out drawers for the first 60sh inches and then divider followed by additional storage. The other thing I am working on is a tall but only 24” wide closet shoe shelf that will have a bottom and top but adjustable shelves the rest of the way. It will be about 7.5 ft tall. Thank you for your help. Lenny

8 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4191 days

#1 posted 12-05-2013 04:29 AM

Face frames.

If you are building frameless, be selective with the sheet goods
you use. Some are flatter than others. I don’t have a rule
of thumb but anything over 5’ tall I’d want to consider a glued
in shelf, a face frame, or going with thicker material for the sides.

I’ve not thought on it much, but lumbercore ply may be
stiffer. Veneer core ply is definitely stiffer than standard
shop ply. Baltic birch and Apple-ply type products are quite
stiff at 3/4”. You could use solid wood, which tends to
be stiffer, or even build torsion box sides.

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile


932 posts in 2898 days

#2 posted 12-05-2013 05:09 AM

Yes, typically I will use a 4” screw strip behind the inside back of the cabinet at 2 feet, if it gets bigger I may add more depending on the depth and height of the cabinet, a 4 foot, wide cabinet it would be helpful to have a glued in shelf as well this is typically done at counter top height.

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View WibblyPig's profile


172 posts in 3818 days

#3 posted 12-05-2013 12:31 PM

Cut a 1/4” rabbet on the back and glue and nail a 1/4” plywood back in. That will prevent any racking and keep the back from bowing. On the pantry, you can install braces just below the sliding shelves to hold the front in place if you wish but the weight of items on the shelves will tend to pull the sides in and down keeping them parallel. For the shoe rack, I’d install 1 fixed shelf midway even with a face frame.

-- Steve, Webster Groves, MO "A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in."

View Earlextech's profile


1162 posts in 3234 days

#4 posted 12-05-2013 01:41 PM

Everyone designs differently. In my custom cabinet business I would design the top doors to match the upper cabinets with a fixed shelf at that point, then taller doors on the bottom. Also, 4’ is too wide for a drawer, 3’ is max for me.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View skipj's profile


97 posts in 2816 days

#5 posted 12-05-2013 01:54 PM

+1 With Earlex.. That’s the way I do it and 4ft is to wide.

View LSGss's profile


68 posts in 2530 days

#6 posted 12-05-2013 05:55 PM

When you need to go wider say 4 feet then do you place a vertical divider with a face frame in front of that.

Thank you

View Earlextech's profile


1162 posts in 3234 days

#7 posted 12-05-2013 06:29 PM

That’s one way. Sometimes I’ve put 30” wide drawers and adjustable shelves next to them. Varity makes customers happy.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View MacB's profile


38 posts in 2184 days

#8 posted 12-08-2013 07:29 PM

IF you are building a cabinet with a face frame you can go as tall as you want. But like earlex said, just put your horizontal divider wherever you break the cabinet doors. As far as racking goes, this is controlled by the cabinet back and the face frame. Also, the height of your space without a divider is not so much controlled by your fixed shelf or face frame rail, its controlled by how tall you can make a cabinet door with out is warping to cover that space. I’ve made 8’ tall doors before but only with HDF (high density fiber board) slab doors. This material is very stable and not prone to warpage. If building a traditional cope n stick or mortise and tenon door, 5’ or a little more is ok as long as the door has an added rail for stiffness. If going taller for a single door I would recommend going thicker too, rather than the typical 13/16” doors I build. Good luck

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