Corner blocks and grain direction - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 Old 03-26-2018, 09:37 AM Thread Starter
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Corner blocks and grain direction

Hi, all. I am a woodworking novice but looking to learn, experiment, and expand my knowledge so reaching out to you experts for some knowledge and guidance. I'm sure this is a simple matter, but, again, I lack even simple knowledge that I would like to gain. I may be using incorrect terminology during this post, so please correct and educate me if so.

I inherited a house with garage having some two-door cabinets inside, mounted to block wall, that have fallen apart. The reason seems to be the way the cabinets are constructed (not high quality) and the presence of corner moulding that was simply glued in. The cabinets are mounted by a single solid piece of what appears to be oak at the top and rear of the cabinets as shown in the below picture.




There is a similar structure at the bottom. The sides of the cabinet are constructed of 1/2 inch veneered plywood. The cabinets are mounted through these structural pieces to the wall. Over time, the force of the material inside the cabinet has caused those corner blocks to break away. I wanted to improve this design by fashioning corner blocks that would be larger and more sturdy that would be glued and screwed into place for extra stability. My plan is to cut corner blocks out of scrap wood (white pine 2 x 4s) that were 3 inches on each leg, glue them to the side and back of the cabinet, and screw through them (from the outsides of the cabinet...this is only garage after all). My real question is around grain direction of these corner blocks. I understand that it's strongest to screw into long grain and not end grain. However, it isn't possible with a cut corner block to have long grain on both legs, only one. Which side of the cabinet do I choose to use the long grain on? Is there something else I'm missing here? Is there a better solution which would shore up these corners so they can bare weight and be hung with confidence?

Thank you, everyone, for your advice and tips.

Last edited by daphnis; 03-26-2018 at 09:41 AM.
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post #2 of 9 Old 03-26-2018, 11:39 AM
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Hello Daphnis,

First...Welcome...

If you just want to put these reinforcements blocks back into the cabinet...then gluing in (better this time of course) is the task at hand. They would not be better served by trying to screw them in, from what I can see in the photos, and typically these are only glued (sometimes jointed) into such work as this. When larger and in different configuration (e.g. tables, chairs, etc) they may...sometimes...get screwed. Yet that still is not the most secure option, just the most expedient. Those are some pretty "rough customers" you got there in the way of cabinets, so I wouldn't recommend putting much effort into them restoration wise, until you have time/skill to build them in a better design and format...

My 2Ę...Hope it helped,

j
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post #3 of 9 Old 03-26-2018, 12:01 PM Thread Starter
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Hi, Jay, and thanks for your recommendation. Here are some follow-up questions I have:

1.) For my own edification, can you explain why, in this case, screwing corner blocks would not offer anything over just gluing alone?
2.) If only gluing, does it matter which side gets the long grain of the corner block?
3.) Should I clamp these blocks in place after gluing? I'm not sure how to go about that if so. Again, I lack knowledge and experience, so I'd appreciate any "hand holding" you can offer.
4.) I know this isn't the highest quality of cabinetry ever, and I'm definitely not going for any restorative effort here, just want to be able to use what I have and not worry about them falling off the wall because they can't hold even twenty pounds of stuff. That said, is there something else you'd recommend that would stabilize this rear mounting rail better than corner blocks?

Thank you once again!
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post #4 of 9 Old 03-26-2018, 01:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daphnis View Post
Hi, Jay, and thanks for your recommendation. Here are some follow-up questions I have:

1.) For my own edification, can you explain why, in this case, screwing corner blocks would not offer anything over just gluing alone?
2.) If only gluing, does it matter which side gets the long grain of the corner block?
3.) Should I clamp these blocks in place after gluing? I'm not sure how to go about that if so. Again, I lack knowledge and experience, so I'd appreciate any "hand holding" you can offer.
4.) I know this isn't the highest quality of cabinetry ever, and I'm definitely not going for any restorative effort here, just want to be able to use what I have and not worry about them falling off the wall because they can't hold even twenty pounds of stuff. That said, is there something else you'd recommend that would stabilize this rear mounting rail better than corner blocks?

Thank you once again!
On them by the numbers...

1.) Gluing...when done well and properly...whether with a traditional adhesive or a modern structural adhesive are almost always going to be way stronger than the wood itself in dynamic loading scenario. "Hardware" typically is there only to hold it in place until an adhesive dries and sets. They add little to it overall strength and in this case would...most likely...weaken the grains structure of the small blocks by bisecting and wedging it apart.

This image shows screw ports for mounting such blocks...and...I've seen these split open quite often...



2.) Not really, but I'm not there and the best answer to this one would be..."I would have to see and touch it to give the best advice on it..."

3.) If you employ a structural adhesive like PL Premium (these met PE standards in architecture) or even something like Titebond III you should be able to just hold these in place with masking tape until the glue sets. Clamping of course would be idea, and there are ways to do that. A little searching on the web illustrated things like:



4.) If the cabinets are going to get any kind of heavy loads in them, considering the shape they are in...I would put brakets or legs under them to strengthen the entire assembly...and keep them from tearing loos from the wall.
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post #5 of 9 Old 03-26-2018, 04:06 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you very much. On #3, I went and got some Loctite PL Premium and will use this instead of the Titebond I (I just had the regular stuff).
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post #6 of 9 Old 03-26-2018, 06:05 PM
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Don't overthink it. Corner blocks are used all the time to reinforce cabinets and tables, sometimes glued, sometimes not; almost always screwed in place. You screw through the corner block into the cabinet. You also don't need any special glue, TB1 will work fine.
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post #7 of 9 Old 03-26-2018, 08:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Woodknack View Post
...almost always screwed in place...
Hi Woodknack,

I'm partly just going from memory on what I have seen in museums, restoration centers and the like on this point, but I also ran around the place and looked at a number of vintage pieces just to confirm my gut and memory...Not that this is a hard fast evidentiary proof but I would say its more like...at best 70/30 and more like 80/20 (what I just looked at today) in favor historically not being any hardware at all in these "strengthening blocks. I do see more after about 1890 forward, but even today many only use adhesive for there application and strength. Many are use a "high strength" hot glue for speed of manufacture...

I only recommended the PL Premimum because I find students can have really good success with it...without hard clamping...or any at all in many cases. Just some tape to hold it in place. It fills gaps well...and is a full structural adhesive unlike most wood glues. I agree in most applications a simpler adhesive could work...

Regards,


j
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post #8 of 9 Old 03-26-2018, 11:22 PM
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The thing about anything in a tube like that is it will go bad after opening. Anything I have tried to do to seal a tube that has been opened has failed.

Don in Murfreesboro, TN.
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post #9 of 9 Old 03-26-2018, 11:41 PM
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Originally Posted by hawkeye10 View Post
The thing about anything in a tube like that is it will go bad after opening. Anything I have tried to do to seal a tube that has been opened has failed.
Hello Hawkeye,

I will admit, we go through this so fast (at least 5 cases of the giant tube a year minimum) that loosing a tube is seldom an issue. However, just dipping a dowel in Vaseline, plugging the tip and storing in a cool place with the tip wrapped in masking tape seldom disappoints unless I leave it for more than 8 months...then sometimes it goes bad...

Good Luck,

j
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