A Better Way to Build Wall Cabinets
Sliding dovetails and an unorthodox face frame make the case stronger, better looking, and easier to build
Synopsis: Learn to make a strong, attractive wall-hung cabinet like this one by Garrett Hack. The smart sliding-dovetail case construction creates a very sturdy cabinet and makes it easy to attach decorative moldings. Hack’s unique design also includes an unorthodox face frame that blends seamlessly into the case. The face frame makes shelf construction is easier since you can run through-dadoes for the shelves. Although best for hanging cabinets, this design works for standing cabinets as well.
I made this nice little wall-hung cabinet to hold tools, but it could easily find a spot inside a home and hold small knickknacks. What’s interesting about this project is the uncommon way I build the case. The process is efficient, and it yields a strong and very attractive piece with a lot of room for design variations.
The main joints are sliding dovetails, which are rock-solid and easily made with a tablesaw and router. Using sliding dovetails forces me to inset the top and bottom of the cabinet, but that works to my advantage, as you’ll see.
Also, I use an unusual face-frame variation, which blends more seamlessly with the case. Basically, I cut a deep rabbet in the front edges of the case and glue the stiles into that rabbet. That leaves the glueline very close to the corner, where I can disguise it easily with a chamfer, a bead, or a bit of banding, for a variety of looks. Note that the rails are added later, simply glued to the top and bottom of the case. These also act as blocking for any moldings you want to add.
You might ask, why have a face frame at all? The first reason is that the sides are thin and a face frame allows you to create whatever thickness…