FURNITURE TILTING & DEFORMATION- THREE TIPS FOR STRENGTHENING CABINET INTEGRITY

by Yun-Han Lin

 

Most cabinets come in rectangular boxes, as the structure is square. It is also one of the most common pieces of furniture needed at home, so it is a popular DIY project for woodworking enthusiasts. Yet, there is a challenge, as you may find that after the four large boards are assembled. When you press it with your hand from the top and shake it left and right, the whole cabinet will easily tilt into a diamond shape and shake left and right, even if the force applied from either the left or right side is little. For this challenge, the following are a few tips to avoid such a problem, which we learn from our project with a large cabinet.

It was a cabinet intended to be placed at the end of the bed as a compartment, whose height is 255 cm, almost reaching the ceiling; the width is 181 cm, the same as our double king bed. At the bottom is a row of divided space that is 45 cm in height. The upper part is a large hashtag shelf with no back boards, where we used 18mm plywood, coupled with screws and wood glue for fixture.

Left: Structural design Right: Cabinet with items placed in

 

Step 1. Gluing

Most of our joints are fixed using beveled head screws or direct fixing screws with a pocket hole, but the area with the force applied with screws is only limited to specific points, while the edges to be fixed still shake. For better integrity and steadiness, it is better to use glue to fix the edges and surfaces.

Step 2. Divide the storage space

We started the assembly from the bottom, where the frame shakes back and forth upon completion. Yet, most of the cabinet shelf does not come with only one compartment, so we divide the one compartment into many using partitions. As we placed the plates as partitions onto the shelf, the whole structural integrity also increased. We installed three straight partitions, which divided the space into four compartments, while the tilting and shaking are greatly reduced.

Step 3. Back board

Next, the back board is added to the cabinet. A normal cabinet often comes with a back board, which not only covers up the hollow space but also adds to the structural integrity. The secret lies in the board holding the structure of the four sides at 90 degrees, which reduces the space for the cabinet to move left and right.

Step 4. Small partitions are come in handy

After the bottom cabinet was completed, the upper shelf is fixed using cross lap joints, where wood glue was also applied. Despite these efforts, the shaking was still serious upon assembly. However, the idea of designing this cabinet is to preserve open space, so we did not want to fix a back board to it to seal the entire structure. Instead, we placed some partitions and back boards of a smaller size panels to the spaces on the sides, which greatly reduced the shaking of the structure. Finally, to add to safety, the top of the cabinet was fixed to the ceiling to avoid overturning in the event of an earthquake. In addition, to meet different needs, we made small drawers and partitions for placing books of different sizes by placing these accessories to different shelves. By doing so, it meets the requirement for a large square cabinet that can be adjusted at will, as we intended in the first place.

For those who are interested in learning more about this project, check out our video!

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