Back Panel for Cabinets

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  • #548453
    sanford
    Participant

    Hi all. I have a question about the back panels for cabinets and cases. Virtually every design for cabinets and book cases I see on the web has the back panel (whether a simple piece of plywood or a frame and panel) set into a rebate on the back of the case so that is is basically invisible when you look at the case from the outside. But for both his large bookshelf project and his hanging tool cabinet project Paul attaches the back panel without inserting it into a rebate. In fact, it extends beyond the sides of the cabinet and is clearly visible from the front. Is this just a matter of aesthetics? Or perhaps Paul’s approach provides a bit more rigidity, but I am not sure it provides much more. If it does provide more rigidity, is that mainly relevant to large, heavy cabinets and cases? This seems like it could be an important issue for cabinet and case construction. Perhaps Paul discusses this some place and I missed it. Thanks!

    #548456
    Ed
    Participant

    I can’t find the large bookcase video any more to have a look. @SANFORD do you have a link to it?

    #548488
    harry wheeler
    Participant

    It’s very common to see a back panel recessed in a rebate like you describe. When I’ve done it with my rebate plane, I end up with the rebate making a visible slot in the side of the cabinet if it’s a dovetailed design like the wall cabinet, and I have to fill that slot. Not a big problem and it certainly works. But if the back is a panel construction, I’ve also made the panel exactly the size of the cabinet but rather than trying to hide the joint somehow, I chamfer the edges of the joint on both the cabinet and the frame which just adds a little detail, almost like a bead. I put it on, plane it flush, remove it and add the chamfers and then install it permanently. I’ve always glued and screwed the back on but I think the glue is totally optional. Either way you do it will add stability. Even a very thin 1/4″ plywood back stops the carcass from racking. I too would like to hear Paul’s thoughts on this.

    Harry

    #548513
    sanford
    Participant

    Thanks, @harryawheeler. You are right that if you want to fit the back into a rebate, a rebate plane can leave a slot which needs to filled. Or you can make a stopped rebate, finishing it off with a chisel, so there is no slot to fill. (Of course, these are not just hand tool problems. The issues occur when using a router to create the rebate.) I still wonder whether there is any structural advantage to attaching the back panel the way Paul does in the videos I have seen rather than using the common rebate approach. Perhaps it is just the appearance you are going for rather than a structural thing? I do like your suggestion of chamfering the edges a bit so as to make the point where the frame meets the back a design element.

    #548459
    sanford
    Participant

    Hi @Ed. Oops, I guess it is just called Bookshelves in the video library. I had downloaded it and gave it the wrong label. Here it is. https://woodworkingmasterclasses.com/videos/bookshelves-project-info/bookshelves-episode-1/. The back frame construction begins in the second half of episode 7 and continues for an episode or two.

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