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What joint to use on my first cabinet?

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tibi

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Hello,

I was given a second order for a woodworking project from my wife (the first one was a coat hanger for my sister). It will be a toy cabinet. A simple open shelf cabinet with one divider. 120 cm long, 40 cm deep, and 35 cm tall. Will be made of 25 mm oak boards.

I will use stopped dado for the divider. What will be the best joint to use for the corner joints if I do not want to use dovetails? I am not yet experienced enough to cut them by hand. I have cut one test dovetail joint, and I need to cut 784 more to get the skill points to make them look neat.

I was thinking about a double rabbet joint (maybe with dowels) for all 4 corners of the box. I have a rabbet plane (record 078). What is the correct ratio of the rabbet depth to the thickness of the board? is it 1/2 deep or any other ratio?

This will be a hand tool-only project as I have no table saw, miter saw, power routers, etc...

Here is the draft of the toy cabinet. There will be no back.

1640208988894.png


Thank you.
 

eribaMotters

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Does your wife know how much the oak is going to cost. If not then I'd buy a biscuit jointer as the project is calling out for one.

Colin
 

TheTiddles

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Lap joints could work, given that it looks like a seat, without a back it may rack and break under load, so maybe plugged screws would improve it and make assembly easier. The rebate doesn’t need to be a lot, maybe 1/3 of the board thickness at the most. But given the cost of materials you are going to put in, have a practice and dovetail it, it’s really not that hard
 

baldkev

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Hi tibi, over here oak is fairly expensive, probably not so bad in slovakia?
Another option for the rebates is to dowel them. You could also add a section of oak at the back ( a rail ) under the top, maybe 100mm deep, which will increase strength ( resist racking )
 

thetyreman

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honestly I would just do dovetails, it's really not that hard to do once you get into the swing of it, practise practise practise, there's no other way to get better at it, get all the scraps you have and spend a week practising, you will be amazed at how much better you will become through repetition.
 

Cabinetman

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No guys, he said he’s not very experienced, he can come back to dovetails after a bit of practice later, I think lap joints and when I do them I go nearly all the way through leaving about 4 /5 mm, sometimes less depending on the thickness to start with you can also put a couple of pins through into the thicker bits, ie not through the 4/5mm bit, with the glue it will be very strong. And on a job like this if you think oak is going to be expensive you’re must be buying it at the wrong places. I would be surprised if it cost more than £30 for the oak. Ian
 

Cabinetman

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well what a about a rebated joint? like this: you could then put a lip over it with mitres in the corners to hide it.
Well yes, though the short grain is very weak, it’s almost impossible to make without powered equipment, op is working by hand.
 

thetyreman

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then why not do dovetails? even a bad dovetail is going to be better than that rebate, also you could make that joint with hand tools, use a no44 rebate plane then no78.
 

Cabinetman

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then why not do dovetails? even a bad dovetail is going to be better than that rebate, also you could make that joint with hand tools, use a no44 rebate plane then no78.
I bow to your superior Knowledge, but they look a lot like a machine made joint to me.
You would be surprised how strong a lap joint can be, my tool rack which has been bashed every day into the cupboard for 10 years hasn’t started to come adrift yet.
 

TRITON

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Lap joints could work, given that it looks like a seat, without a back it may rack and break under load, so maybe plugged screws would improve it and make assembly easier. But given the cost of materials you are going to put in, have a practice and dovetail it, it’s really not that hard
I'd be for 1/2 laps as well, its a standard joint thats stood the test of time. Biscuits are really for board material jointing.
I'd also agree that dovetails would work extremely well and there are even certain jigs made by veritas that use angled guides and magnets to give all the correct angles, but that said try to forget the extreme precision that seems to be overly associated with dovetails and just use them. Only maybe in a case of fine furniture super accurate dovetails would be expected, but for a first timer the odd small gap is going to be overlooked and the overall effect will stand better.
 
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tibi

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Hello All,

Thank you very much for your recommendations.

I would like to answer a few questions. I already have oak, so I am not going to buy a new lumber. I have made an elevated garden bed from it a few years ago, so it was outside for a few winters before I disassembled it and now I am storing the boards in my workshop.

It had a foil inside where the ground was and the foil was attached with small screws. Now I have a lot of black marks on the oak after those screws. You know oak + iron + water.

I am going to plane first a few boards (there is some exterior paint on them) and see if the wood is usable to be placed in the living room. If not, I will use a spare MDF cabinet and call it a day.

I would either put some reinforcement on the back or I will just nail a plywood on the back (no plough plane yet to make a groove for it)

I may test dovetails for a week, but my wife wants the cabinet relatively soon, so I will see how it goes.

If I fail at dovetails I would try this double rabbet joint (image from Wood Whisperer)
1640242774705.png


for me it would be better looking in the living room than having dovetails like these, which will be probably my level of quality (i am not going to name the instagram woodworker where I took the picture from - If he identified his picture and wants credit for it, I will edit the post)
1640243081805.png


Thank you.
 

TRITON

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If those were mine I really wouldn't be wanting credit for them :LOL: :LOL:

But in all honesty the average punter viewer wouldnt see the gaps really as being any sort of a problem or them being wrong or anything like that, and would just be impressed that they are there in the first place. It's a mythical joint everyday folk see as the epitome of cabinetry.

I've some old drawers from an early 18th century shop cabinet and the dovetails are of pretty much equal quality with some gaping gaps, and the central nail that was a common addition.
Yes on fine furniture of that era they would be nearly perfect, but every day carpenter made stuff its not usually the case and the mechanical strength of the joint is more important than how they look.

Use a couple of bits of pine and practice a single dovetail on that, maybe ever trying a 1/2 dozen times. I can pretty much guarantee by the 3rd or 4th you'll have cracked it and know exactly what you need to do, and how to go about getting it.
 
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Adam W.

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I'm sure it's strong enough for a joint.

It's just that we now see dovetails as something special, whereas it was just a quick and strong workman joint for keeping boxes together before.
 

tibi

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If those were mine I really wouldn't be wanting credit for them :LOL: :LOL:

But in all honesty the average punter viewer wouldnt see the gaps really as being any sort of a problem or them being wrong or anything like that, and would just be impressed that they are there in the first place. It's a mythical joint everyday folk see as the epitome of cabinetry.

I've some old drawers from an early 18th century shop cabinet and the dovetails are of pretty much equal quality with some gaping gaps, and the central nail that was a common addition.
Yes on fine furniture of that era they would be nearly perfect, but every day carpenter made stuff its not usually the case and the mechanical strength of the joint is more important than how they look.

Use a couple of bits of pine and practice a single dovetail on that, maybe ever trying a 1/2 dozen times. I can pretty much guarantee by the 3rd or 4th you'll have cracked it and know exactly what you need to do, and how to go about getting it.
This woodworker has a lot of stuff of similar quality, but he definitely enjoys what he is doing, and if only does work for himself and not paid commissions, it should be fine for him, as long as he is happy.

My strategy is to plane two pieces of wood and make first dovetail joint. Then cut it off just below the baseline, square the ends and start again. This way I can make even 10 dovetails from two boards only. This is like browsing internet in privacy mode. There will be no dovetail history. Just some small pins and tails laying on the floor.
 

Jameshow

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As a newbie doing dovetails even blind dovetails isn't that hard.

What I find harder is maintaining concentration so as to not make a mistake. My mind drifts to something I'm worrying about or has annoyed me and that's when I make mistakes.

I tend to do just one or two per session otherwise the fun stops!
 

recipio

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If the oak is finished to 25 mm you have enough depth to use dowels. The great James Krenov used dowels for his display cabinets. A simple dowel jig or even dowel pops will help. The only downside is that the endgrain of the top and bottom will be on show. I wouldn't practice dovetails on what is to be a finished piece - you are guaranteed heartache. :rolleyes: As with all cabinet pieces a set of sash clamps is obligatory.
 

TheTiddles

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If your starting material has been used for gardening, I’d just screw it together and not bother with any additional process
 

Jacob

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I'd consider making the top into a top i.e. projecting over the box - wider and longer. Then house the verticals in a stopped dado.
Then take the vertical panels to the floor instead of having an unnecessary plinth.
It'd be a toy table as much as a toy box.
It'd still need a bit of bracing - simplest would be a stretcher from end to end under the middle of the bottom shelf, or the top.
 

baldkev

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This is like browsing internet in privacy mode. There will be no dovetail history. Just some small pins and tails laying on the floor.
Unless you get it right first time, in which case you can skip to the next stage..... cider👍
 
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