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construction of a built in cabinet

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reck123

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I have a potential new Job that i have to measure up for on friday and thought it would be interesting to get some perspective from the fourum members here as it has always proved so helpful in the past.


This would be my first built in/fitted furniture job I have ever done. up until now i have only made freestanding furniture.


I have a pretty good knowledge of cabinet construction and a share a fairly well equipt workshop


I have attached a rough drawing below. which was sent to me and not the final version. the cabinet will meet both walls and form a frame around the door.

Screen Shot 2021-10-20 at 19.34.31.png



I would like to bounce some ideas of you guys regarding the construction of this cabinet and anything I should take in to consideration.


as they want the natural wood look, I am going with a mixture of oak veneered 19mm blockboard which I will lip all the edges with fairly thick matching solid wood.


I want to keep everything as modular as possible to help getting the whole thing level easier aswell as transporting.

construction number one -


The two vertical cabinets I would domino and glue together then fix the top horizontal cabinet to the top of the verticals with the lamello clamax connectors. Then screw through the back in to a batten/wall and fix to the sides of the walls which would then be covered by a 4cm infill.

the benefits of this construction would be there would be no double-ing of edges and everything would stay 19mm.

construction method number two


Alternatively I would build each individual cabinet separately push them next to each other/screw them together and pin a face frame over the whole thing. which would mean the edges of the carcuss would be 38mm thick with the inside shelves 19mm.


for the middle bridge section i thought about adding cleats of each face of the vertical below the horzontal to add further support. I feel with a thick solid lipping on the panels, sagging across that span shoudn't be a problem.

image example below of cleat system
Screen Shot 2021-10-20 at 19.39.27.png




I'm assuming for both versions it would be wise to use a piece of the same stock for the back panel. by that I mean thick 19mm back panel as opposed to the 5mm veneered ply stuff. keep things strong and sturdy whilst being a better anchor fro driving a screw though the back.

I would build two seperate plinths getting them both level and then build up from there. would it be wise to remove the skirting or just build the plinths slighty higher then the skirting.


any advice for measuring up a room is also welcome. So far I will take my laser measure device, tape measure and some extra wood to use as a story stick to mark key locations (door frames etc) but maybe there are some key things to look out for. I thought to give myself a tolerence of 4cm (for the infill) all around the cabinet and stop short of the ceiling


Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and if you know of any good educational resources for built ins that would be most helpful.

Best regards,

Nick
 

Ntre25

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Option 1 suits euro style cabinets with overlay doors and keeps he 19mm face edge. Fixing the units to the wall can work but scribing to the walls can be tricky and doesn't always look neat.
Option 2 is a framed version which gives more flexibility for hinge fittings and also makes scribing to the walls look more symmetrical as the scribing pieces can be matched to the 38mm face frame rails. Note 4cm for a scribing panel would be too wide to achieve the symmetry.

As for the back panels, using the same thickness of panel makes construction easier and is more robust. All machinery can be set up to use 19mm panels.

I've used method 2 and I've found it works well and looks very neat. It might be a bit more work to machine the face frames and biscuit joint them to the cabinet edges but the scribing panels to the wall look integrated with the face frames rather than being a panel inserted as the last job of the day.
 

Cabinetman

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Worth doing a cost of material / time to trim edges etc comparison. I swore to always use solid timber after messing about with veneered boards last time.
Not your design I know but maybe suggest something to stop it looking so flat and tbh, boring. After all you presumably want to get more work on the back of this piece. Ian
 

Jameshow

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19mm back panel seems a bit heavy?

I'd build as two units and the put the four shelves above the door in place Insitu.

I'm not an expert by far.

I'd second real timber too.

Cheers James
 
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I would make seporate plinths slightly higher than the skirting so they could be made level etc and then fit the cabinets on to that

could also run a new skirting around the front and possible side if the design permits that

9 or 12mm back

when I used to butt units up to each other I used 3mm spacers length of unit 45mm wide at the front only set back about 5mm , this helps when fitting ,( the wall may not be dead flat ) your top unit would need a spacer also on the underside as this would be visible from the under side

will you be scribing the end panels to the wall that can be seen near the door if not you could poss run a wooden bead round to hide the gap

if You make a top unit you could have a support rail with moulding underneath to support the unit , hide any gaps and join neatly with the bead
 

Jones

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When you measure you'll get a better idea as some houses are straighter than others. I would build as 3 units, two either side of doors to door height, then one across,if the across finishes at top shelf you won't need to scribe infill to the ceiling . A back panel is not needed for built-in as the wall fixings will hold it solid and square,if wall is too tatty go for a thin panel for cost/ weight.
 

reck123

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Worth doing a cost of material / time to trim edges etc comparison. I swore to always use solid timber after messing about with veneered boards last time.
Not your design I know but maybe suggest something to stop it looking so flat and tbh, boring. After all you presumably want to get more work on the back of this piece. Ian
Thanks Cabinet man.

I got this job off the back off another smaller cabinet I made for them. I would definitely love to make it all out of solid timber but I don't think their budget allows it and i don't want to outbid myself out of the job.

I have got pretty good results in the past when lipping the veneer panels i fell like the untrained eye usually can't tell the difference. I thought it was pretty common pratice on larger builds like this to use a mix of panels and hardwood not only for cost but for wood stability?

still trying to work out the costs between the two as would prefer to go with hardwood and explaining to them that i would also use a veneered board is confusing to them.
 
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reck123

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I would make seporate plinths slightly higher than the skirting so they could be made level etc and then fit the cabinets on to that

could also run a new skirting around the front and possible side if the design permits that

9 or 12mm back

when I used to butt units up to each other I used 3mm spacers length of unit 45mm wide at the front only set back about 5mm , this helps when fitting ,( the wall may not be dead flat ) your top unit would need a spacer also on the underside as this would be visible from the under side

will you be scribing the end panels to the wall that can be seen near the door if not you could poss run a wooden bead round to hide the gap

if You make a top unit you could have a support rail with moulding underneath to support the unit , hide any gaps and join neatly with the bead
thanks for the advice graham, Could you explain again the use of the spacers. im afraid i did't fully grasp it.

I haven't decided wether to scribe the sides of both panels, Having never scribed before maybe its less risky to just leave that part out and have a even gap around the cabinet.
 

reck123

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When you measure you'll get a better idea as some houses are straighter than others. I would build as 3 units, two either side of doors to door height, then one across,if the across finishes at top shelf you won't need to scribe infill to the ceiling . A back panel is not needed for built-in as the wall fixings will hold it solid and square,if wall is too tatty go for a thin panel for cost/ weight.
thanks for the advice james, I was under the impression that a fairly thick back panel would be needed to screw through the back of the cabinet into the wall and would be the wall fixing itself. what other fixings could i use?

and the panel would hide any uneven gaps between the back of the shelves and the wall . would be good if i could use a thinner ply for back for costs reasons.
 

Jones

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thanks for the advice james, I was under the impression that a fairly thick back panel would be needed to screw through the back of the cabinet into the wall and would be the wall fixing itself. what other fixings could i use?

and the panel would hide any uneven gaps between the back of the shelves and the wall . would be good if i could use a thinner ply for back for costs reasons.
I would fit a piece of back panel say 200 mm deep at the top to stiffen it up and screw through to wall sides can be blocked off wall and screwed. When shelf units like this are used the contents become more noticable than the joinery so going to fancy is usually wasted.
 

Jones

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I would fit a piece of back panel say 200 mm deep at the top to stiffen it up and screw through to wall sides can be blocked off wall and screwed. When shelf units like this are used the contents become more noticable than the joinery so going to fancy is usually wasted.
Another thought on back panels for built-in, if wall has any damp they will become mouldy behind unless ventilated
 

Ollie78

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Make it a bit small and allow for a face trim on the sides and top ( anywhere it will contact the wall or ceiling ). This way you can get a perfect scribe or at least an even shadow gap.

From the picture I would make the two side bits individually then fit the middle part in.

Ollie
 
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thanks for the advice graham, Could you explain again the use of the spacers. im afraid i did't fully grasp it.

I haven't decided wether to scribe the sides of both panels, Having never scribed before maybe its less risky to just leave that part out and have a even gap around the cabinet.
Hi
my chain of thought when I’ve built items like this is the walls are not straight or plum or flat

so I take a long straight edge and spirit level when measuring up

first I see how vertical the walls are , some times they have been out as much as 10mm or more so if a unit is placed on a level plinth and pushed up against the wall you will have a gap at the top or bottom so for example 10mm which looks wrong to me so I scribe the end to the wall , this end I make 25mm wider than the other unit ends and machine a rebate in the long edge which becomes the scribe which I cut to suit

I also leave a gap at the rear of the unit and wall say 20/25mm the unit can be fixed down into the plinth and then through the back using a spacer/packer cut to correct thickness approx 20/25mm to secure the unit to the wall

this gap is due to the wall not being flat and can take up bumps and lumps

re the spacers

putting two flat surfaces together like end panels of two units can work well if the wall is say flat But if the wall say curved out wards , putting two units on a wall would mean there is a gap at the front as the back of units will be touching

a 3/5mm spacer fixed to the long edge of ( your top unit ) at the front would mean only the front of the units need to touch and can be fixed together with a screw

i Will try and do a drawing of what I mean later today , happy for you to private msg me and I can email it to you if it would help

the backs of units can be thinner then also 6mm ply / MDF etc

there are a few ways of doing this , it’s how I was trained many years ago to do it and has worked well over the years when making fitted furniture at work and when I’ve completed commissioned work
cheers Graham
 

reck123

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Hi
my chain of thought when I’ve built items like this is the walls are not straight or plum or flat

so I take a long straight edge and spirit level when measuring up

first I see how vertical the walls are , some times they have been out as much as 10mm or more so if a unit is placed on a level plinth and pushed up against the wall you will have a gap at the top or bottom so for example 10mm which looks wrong to me so I scribe the end to the wall , this end I make 25mm wider than the other unit ends and machine a rebate in the long edge which becomes the scribe which I cut to suit

I also leave a gap at the rear of the unit and wall say 20/25mm the unit can be fixed down into the plinth and then through the back using a spacer/packer cut to correct thickness approx 20/25mm to secure the unit to the wall

this gap is due to the wall not being flat and can take up bumps and lumps

re the spacers

putting two flat surfaces together like end panels of two units can work well if the wall is say flat But if the wall say curved out wards , putting two units on a wall would mean there is a gap at the front as the back of units will be touching

a 3/5mm spacer fixed to the long edge of ( your top unit ) at the front would mean only the front of the units need to touch and can be fixed together with a screw

i Will try and do a drawing of what I mean later today , happy for you to private msg me and I can email it to you if it would help

the backs of units can be thinner then also 6mm ply / MDF etc

there are a few ways of doing this , it’s how I was trained many years ago to do it and has worked well over the years when making fitted furniture at work and when I’ve completed commissioned work
cheers Graham
Thanks again Graham,

I think i know what you are saying though a drawing if you have the time would be really appreciated. I will send you a message later on today. many thanks.


I am going to measure the space this evening.

in my box I have a large carpenters square for checking corners of the room

tape measure

laser measure device

two log bits of mdf for a story stick to mark key positions from wall to door frame.

long spirit level for checking flatness of walls and floor

drawing of space to annotate with on site measurments


am i missing something?
 
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Thanks again Graham,

I think i know what you are saying though a drawing if you have the time would be really appreciated. I will send you a message later on today. many thanks.


I am going to measure the space this evening.

in my box I have a large carpenters square for checking corners of the room

tape measure

laser measure device

two log bits of mdf for a story stick to mark key positions from wall to door frame.

long spirit level for checking flatness of walls and floor

drawing of space to annotate with on site measurments


am i missing something?
think you have way more than I used to use LOL
all good though looks every thing is covered

I was watching a PM video the other day where he used two buttons together to check the physical height ( floor to underside of a cupboard ) , thought that was a better idea and quicker / more accurate than just measuring , suppose the laser measure could do that also

w
 
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reck123

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Hi again everyone,

I just wanted to run through these construction ideas and see if what people think if it is logical or can suggest an improvement.
ash back schrank.jpg




as mentioned before I want to try and keep every 20mm edge consistent and not double up edges.

I would build three separate modules to form the entire structure. then the two cabinets would be set on two seperate leveled plinths and fixed on site.


my construction method for each cabinet would be three long vertical members with fixed shelves. basically the middle vertical panels would have a mortised plunged through to the other side and a long domino connecting and registering each shelf either side of it.

made a little test of this earlier and it seems to work well. In theory I could glue up the the cabinets in sections i.e one run of shelfs fixed between two verticals then a 2nd glue up connecting shelfs to already glued through domino.


I would leave the top of both lower cabinets open which would then be aligned to a long horizontal panel with connecting loose tenons on the top side of it to receive the vertical members of the horizontal cabinet.

picture below

construction.png




for the back panel should i use a rabbet bit and hog out enough so the back panel can sit in flush with the sides or is it better to have a recessed groove where the back panel can slide in to? probably makes getting the whole thing square easier.

what do you think of this method of construction?
 

DBT85

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Looks fine to me, but I think I'd go with the rabbet over the groove. assuming the follwing.

The thing that might screw that up is how drunk the walls are vertically. Since you aren't using an end panel either side of the door any gap between the unit and the wall is going to annoy you and naturally scribing that actual unit to the wall isn't going to happen. Just work on the basis you'll 99% have to put something between the unit and the wall to cover/fill the gap? Maybe I'm missing something.

Maybe another option is to make the panels nearer the door 20mm deeper (assuming the walls aren't more than 20mm out) and just scribe that panel to the wall and stand the rest of the unit off the wall to make it all fit.
 
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Yes looks ok
I would rebate the end Panels and bottom for the back to sit in to
I think it would easier to position the back and then screw/pin in place would make the unit as rigid as possible

It could be a tad difficult to slide a long back in to the unit in grooves especially if you are doing it on site and with not much room .

Re the back fixing to the long top for both upper and lower units I think a groove May work for the back to slot in too
( deffo the bottom unit )
not sure about lifting the upper unit in place and trying to fit a back in to a slot though , so

Maybe fix a piece of 12 mm MDF to the rear of the Lower units sticking up say 50mm so you can then fix the upper unit back panel to it
 

sometimewoodworker

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While not in the class of finish of your unit being far more utilitarian, I am 3/4 of the way through a somewhat similar build. Storage wall (set of shelves and drawers) I used dominoes in the front and back of all the fixed shelves for support and positioning. I glued the shelves in place. I did not fix mine to the wall, if I had wanted to do that I would have used a French cleat as I have done in the workshop. The back is a 3mm panel glued and pinned with a couple of hundred 23 gage pins. The panel glued in place gives as much rigidity as a thicker panel would. I used 20mm plywood and the 2.1 m x 2.45 m unit was already extremely heavy had I used a 20mm back panel it would have been hernia time. I made 2 sections (2.1 x 1.45 & 2.1 x 1) as 1 wouldn’t fit through the door. The frame is just sitting on the plinth but I’ve used about 10 screws into the plinth for security & the 2 units are screwdriver together. The plinth is hot glued to the floor as I have tiled floors, I used a bead of hot glue on all points inside the plinth where it meets the floor and to locate the levelling shims. With a wood floor I would have used screws.

today I am going to start spraying drawers.
 

reck123

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Looks fine to me, but I think I'd go with the rabbet over the groove. assuming the follwing.

The thing that might screw that up is how drunk the walls are vertically. Since you aren't using an end panel either side of the door any gap between the unit and the wall is going to annoy you and naturally scribing that actual unit to the wall isn't going to happen. Just work on the basis you'll 99% have to put something between the unit and the wall to cover/fill the gap? Maybe I'm missing something.

Maybe another option is to make the panels nearer the door 20mm deeper (assuming the walls aren't more than 20mm out) and just scribe that panel to the wall and stand the rest of the unit off the wall to make it all fit.
Thanks for the feedback.

the walls themselves seemed fairly straight. Though I think your right scribing the whole of an end panel wouldn't be much fun and since I never done any scribing could be tricky.

I think what @Graham Brazier suggested in a previous post might be the way I go, make some thin beading/moulding from ash hardwood that can hide any gaps between the wall and the unit and form a frame around the door. could attach it with liquid nails to the wall/cabinet.

@sometimewoodworker I know what you mean about the weight of the back panel. I would obviously need to rustle up some help lifting that top section in to place.

what concerns me about a 6mm back panel is just how floppy they can be. since I will want to screw the cabinet though the back and into the wall in some places. i feel like the thin back wont have much pull. plus the thicker back can be countersunk and plugged with matching wood to hide screw fixings.
 

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