3/4-Inch Material for Cabinet Construction Pros and Cons

After a switch to CNC production, a shop-floor mechanic looks for advice on moving to 3/4-inch material as a standard. October 25, 2006

We just bought a Komo Nesting CNC Router. I am going to try to convince the owner to switch to all 3/4" cabinet construction, including backs, with dados, screws, and dowels. He currently builds 5/8" boxes, 3/4" door and drawer fronts, 1/4" backs, and his drawers are a combo of 1/4" and 1/2". Since we are going to be nesting I want to urge him to go to all 3/4". Can anyone give me some selling points to pitch this idea to him. I already have a couple, but I could use a few more.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor K:
I'll give you some of the reasons why we use all 3/4".

1. Price point - from what I've read on forums such as this, and our own experience, in most markets the 1/2" and 3/4" are very close in price. In our case, because we use only 3/4", we order large batches at a time, giving us much better purchasing power.

2. Storage - there are no separate racks or systems for storage for each thickness maximizing shop floor real estate. If you have a forklift, you can stack 100 sheets in one 4' x 8' (or 12', depending on what you order) area.

3. Management of cut-offs - although we have very little waste because we use all of our cut-offs for different products, it is much easier to only have to store one thickness.

4. Marketing - your product IS much stronger, therefore, by definition, can hold up better over time, as well as, support more weight (granite, etc.), and is a great selling point.

5. More glue area for assembly.

6. Screws have more beef to cut into - less chances of pop-outs.

7. Can hold more weight (dishes) in cabinets. I've seen cabinets with 1/4" - 3/8" material literally coming off the wall. Of you use thinner material; the perception may be that you are associating yourself closer with the lower end of the market. Please note I said perception. There's more, but that should give you a start.

From contributor L:
We run nested on a Komo but do only commercial work. 3/4 for everything but backs - those are 1/4 in a groove with a 4"x 3/4" nailer behind at the top. I was very pleasantly surprised at the efficiency of running nested. Are you using Confirmats or dowels? KAP covered the selling points. To keep from having to get the materials with the forklift every change we put in a gantry crane and vacuum lift that can directly access 7 units of different materials saves a lot of time.

From contributor B:
I assume you are talking about PB core melamine? No disrespect intended here, but you might try installing all 3/4" cabinets for a few days. You might then see some downsides to your theory- such as increased cabinet weight, less productive installations, higher installer turnover, increased injuries and worker's comp cost increases - need I go on? Figure out how much weight just a 3/4" back instead of 1/4" adds to a cabinet. You will be shocked. I worked for a few years as a PM for a commercial shop that did all 3/4 casework. Funny thing, they could not keep any really good installers for long.

From contributor R:
We only do 3/4 construction, anything less belongs on the shelf at the discount store.