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Could use some help with a cabinet that isn't square!

1917 Views 27 Replies 17 Participants Last post by  R B Fishin
As a newer woodworker, I'm looking for some sage-like advice.

I'm working on a cabinet that's going to have four shelves on the bottom and a few small drawers at the top. It's nothing too fancy, but I wanted to use dados for the shelves. Well, this was my first time cutting dados with a router, and it was frustratingly difficult to get them lined up correctly on both sides of the cabinet.

Ultimately, I knew some of the dados were slightly imperfect, but when I dry assembled the cabinet, everything was able to fit. So last night, I got everything lined up, clamped, and glued up. It actually came together okay, but the problem I'm now facing is that it's far from square. This has manifested in both the feet, which have a decent wobble to them, as well as in the drawer slide installation. (The drawers are not sitting flat when placed on shims on the top shelf, which leads me to believe the boards are somewhat twisted.)

My questions are as follows:

a) Is this a problem I could fix in any way?

b) I'm half tempted to disassemble by cutting the shelves out flush at the joint, sanding clean, then using something like pocket screws where I can ensure a square alignment. (I don't have the same aversion to pocket screws that most do. Haha.) I assume I would lose about 1/8 to a 1/16 of an inch from the cuts, but that would be fine. The dados would also be filled in due to the remaining shelves.

Is this something that could be done, and if so, what's the best way to get a flush cut at the joint?

Thanks in advance for any input. I feel like I've learned a lot from this project and I'm hoping to be able to clean it up a bit.

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Is your intention to apply a face frame to this box? If not, you really do not have an issue. It is more common than uncommon for Euro boxes (frameless cabinets) to be out of square, as long as they are not racked. Generally the boxes are squared up when installed. Like others have said squaring it with a back will work also, but that box will still move in and out of perfect square until it is installed. The good part of Euro boxes is they are cheaper to make and give you slightly more room. The downside is they are more difficult to install well than face frame cabinets.
Hmm. Perhaps “cabinet” isn’t the right word here. This is meant to be a stand alone unit, like a bookcase. It’s going to hold specific sized boxes and isn’t being installed anywhere. It’s just going to stand against a wall.
I think you are asking al lot of the design to remain square without the construction to square it. What you could do is attach a cleat under the top shelf, square it up, and once squared screw it to the wall through the cleat. Without a back and face frame you are depending on the dado's alone to keep it square. Honestly, that will not work in my opinion. Either installing a face frame and back, or squaring and securing to the wall when square, I don't think you have many options. If this makes you feel better, you did nothing wrong in the construction.
This had crossed my mind.

Basically the drawers are going to contain dividers and trading cards. I want them on top because I'm going to be accessing them a lot more frequently, and I'll be looking through them and pulling things out frequently.

The bottom shelves are each going to have two specific boxes that weigh between 7-10 lbs each, so between 14-20 lbs per shelf. That means that, when full (which they will be) the bottom shelves will be holding 56 to 80 lbs. My assumption was that this, along with the weight of the carcass, would be enough weight to make sure the cabinet stays put when pulling the drawers out.

Additionally, I was going to make two of this same unit and connect them at the sides with these socket cap bolts: Amazon.com. This way, if I needed more storage in the future, I could even add a third, etc. But also, pulling one drawer out would also have the weight of both full cabinets.

Does this seem sound? Is there a better way to set this up without the drawers being on the bottom?

This is an image of a previous cabinet I built for similar storage needs. The boxes on the bottom few shelves are the same that are going to be stored here at two per shelf.

View attachment 449594

Additionally, I seriously appreciate all the input I've received here! Thanks a ton to everyone who has replied.
I used to use the same style bolts I got from my vendor when I was doing some Euro cabs. Good choice. Being that there are going to be two cabs when done, levelling them in place and securing them to the wall will assure you secure cabinets that stay in square one there is load on them.
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