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

1913 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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OK a couple of suggestions.
First if you are going to build cabinets like this one get some of these clamps.
Cheap and dirty https://www.amazon.com/SEDY-Clamp-Woodworking-Holder-Picture/dp/B07PLV5LX8
or these real good but more $$ Amazon.com
They will assist you a bunch in keeping things like your cabinet square.
Another option is to only glue the shelfs one side of the cabinet so you can lay the side flat on the side and install / glue the shelves at 90 degrees to that first side . You will have complete access to shim , block, prop up sach shelf to get a perfect 90 . From there you can add the other side after all is glued and dried..
As far as your current issue. If you cant rack back the assembly to square and hold it there with tha cabinet back then you can cut out the shelves close to the cabinet sides as possible. A good hand saw or pull saw can be your best friend here.
To save the shelf material square them up and bread board the ends to make up the material lost. You most likely will wrap the exposed ply wood edges anyway.

Lastly if you can next cabinet / shelf project start with the material for the sides in one piece twice as wide as finished dimension and some extra. Cut your routed dados across after carefully squaring a fence for your router. Then seperate the two sides. This should leave you with two great matching sides to receive the shelves.
Don't give up... I have been making mistakes far greater than yours for nearky 50 years it happens.
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