If you are making your own, shiplap style will let you go a bit thinner.
I'm making a bread bin at the moment and used rebates on the back, which is a shade over 1/4" thin. The thinnest I could manage with T&G would be 3/8".
I made a bookcase and the back was 1/2" thick with 1/8" T & G.
I prefer T & G to shiplap because it's hard to go wrong with a plane fitted with the relevant blades whereas with shiplap, I reckon it is probably easier to cut your rebates off square. Also planing T & G is just good fun or at least I enjoy doing it.
There's another factor which has not been mentioned and that's the cost of the various tools for T & G.
If you're going to do lots of 3/4" wood then you'd probably only need one good second hand Stanley plane or pair of wooden planes (as per Andy T's link) and away you go. My 1/8" T & G was relatively expensive because the blades were for a Veritas small plough plane. This implies the cost of the plane plus the cost of any blades you want to use. OTH the money also buys a great deal of flexibility in one plane which is also not restricted to just T & G and if memory serves, there are T & G blades in three different sizes.
That's a good point about the costs Andy - and availability too. I've tended to gather up tools when I see them cheap and then explore their strengths and weaknesses - which is not at all the same as the conventional good advice of only buying a tool when you need it.
The Stanley 48 is hardly common so I didn't mind paying £40 for it but a Record or Stanley combination plane would give you more possibilities for your money. Or even one of those shiny Canadian ones if you are really feeling like you need a treat. ISTR they do one with 17 brass knobs on!
on the subject of cost: Classic Hand Tools is doing one of the two Lie-Neilsen copies of the Stanley for GBP 195. The Veritas + conversion kit + a tongueing blade (it's delivered with a 1/4" grooving blade) comes out at nearer GBP 250 but thereafter it's flexibility is relatively cheap i.e. the cost of a new blade per task.
Either option is costly. That said I've never regretted getting the Veritas plough which IMO probably ought to be renamed as a small combination plane. I bet the Lie-Neilsen is fun to use though. Out of interest, has anybody on here got it?
It still looks a tough sell against a Record 405. There are plenty about in good condition as they generally came in a good wooden box, so are likely to be complete. I reckon they were still selling well to the trade or keen amateur up to the 1960s.
Both methods usually require a small gap so as to allow the wood to move. You can achieve this by placing a couple of slim coins between the pieces as you put them together.
To avoid movement once in place I made sure that were cupping to occur, what would be the concave side was in contact with the backs of the shelves in the bookcase. Then each piece got nails in the middle connecting it firmly with each shelf and hence adding to the overall stability of the piece. Each piece was also give a 1/4" rebate top and bottom which fitted into grooves. All this added up to (or was meant to add up to) that the only movement taking place would be potential seasonal contraction/expansion, hence the use of the coins.
Thank you Andy,
I was not really thinking of seasonal, width variations, but the possible gaps running square on to the surface. Those would not occurr with T&G, but just might with Shiplap. Your careful orientation of growth rings along with the fixing to the rear of a shelf has sorted that. The problem is not likely to crop up with shorter lengths involved of course.
my first thought was to agree completely. Shiplapping must be a good technique but despite the evidence of it having been used successfully for centuries, I shy away from it due to the same concerns you have. T & G certainly lays those concerns to rest.
However ... it occurs to me that the same growth ring orientation, nailing through to shelves and then rebated ends in grooves would eliminate movement concerns in shiplap too.
The other side of the coin is represented by e.g. the bottoms of tool trays in a tool chest as described in The Anarchist's Tool Chest: the shiplap should run down the centre of the tray and the boards be nailed to the sides and ends. I had visions of the boards curling up or down in the middle. Obviously they don't or else Christopher Schwarz would not have recommended that method. However, I decided to opt for T & G just to be 100 % sure. Maybe T & G just represents going a tiny bit over the top but it is surely in a good way.
Depending on the size of the cabinet, I usually install a panelled back which can then be dropped into a (machined :shock: ) rebate, so there's a bit of t n'grooving involved...except I do it on the router table which is a bit quicker - Rob