Corner joinery for very wide panels
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- This topic has 4 replies, 3 voices, and was last updated 2 years, 3 months ago by Sven-Olof Jansson.
I am making a cat litterbox enclosure for a friend. It is basically a box with a front door, and the door has a cat-sized access hole for the cat to get through and handle its business. The door is for general cleaning access. The door will cover the lower 75% of the front area. The remaining area will be a “nook” for miscellaneous storage.
The overall box dimensions are:
I am having trouble figuring out how to make the carcass. I’ve made several smaller projects taught by Paul, so I know how to prepare wood and also how to hand cut joinery.
But to make something this wide? I just don’t know how.
-Dovetails: those would be dovetails on 25″ wide board 😮 . That doesn’t seem like the best way to do it.
-Dadoes: Besides also being 25″ long, I’m going for a modern” look (no overhang), so that rules out housing dadoes in the top and bottom.
-I wanted to use pine, but considering how wide the panels, I may settle on plywood.
I don’t know for sure, but something tells me traditional box joinery is not really meant to join such wide panels? Historically, how is this done?
Any and all suggestions and advice are appreciated, since I am basically stuck until I figure this out (this enclosure is meant to be a Christmas gift!).
-Juan18 December 2020 at 9:22 pm #690661
Please may I recommend Bill Hylton’s “Illustrated Cabinetmaking” (ISBN-13 : 978-1565233690). I find it very good on what joinery to use for basically everything from a small bedside cabinet to a king-size bed.
Would a frame and rail carcass be an alternative worthy of consideration? The attached drawing tries to show the concept of two side frames joined by mortice and tenons, and then connected by four rails. My own experience is that the rails with horizontal faces benefit from dovetailing, and those with vertical faces from mortised tenons with shoulders along both faces. The interiors of the frames can be panels running in grooves.
Basically, I’m probably describing a kitchen cabinet. Please accept photos, including a grainy one of a 36″x27″x20″ (wxhxd) prototype chest of drawers.
London, UK; Boston, MA
@Sven-Olof Jansson: Thanks very much for the advice! I like the look of that Temporary Floorstanding cabinet. I’m definitely going to look into that book.
I am a real big fan of traditional joinery (like all of us are I’m sure!). But even so, there are several times when I need to build something more “utilatarian.” Also, sometimes being able to make something in relatively short time is key. In that respect, what do you think about the Temporary Floorstanding Cabinet you shared, but with butt joints and screws instead of M/T joints? Would it be much harder to get the carcass square and parallel?
– Juan20 December 2020 at 12:15 pm #690886
A few years ago I bought a trend pocket hole kit, the type you use for repairs as well, and that works very well for quick assemblies. A trick I learned many years ago in the theatre, and which Paul also uses on the trestles, is using triangular panels to reinforce corner joints and hold them square.
Colin, Czech Rep.20 December 2020 at 8:49 pm #690951
Unless the cat would oppose it too much, could angle brackets be an alternative. I’ve used them for several chests, which work very well, though of course kept out of sight. They are really simple: just frames with plywood as screwed on panels for top, bottom, and sides.
Attached is one picture of the brackets and one to support Colin’s suggestion on triangular pieces as enforcement (in my case also to make up for a mistake).
London, UK; Boston, MA
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