Adhesive for Applying Finished Skins to Cabinet Ends

A cabinetmaker seeks advice for attaching finished ends to new cabinets. May 21, 2007

We are a custom cabinet company looking for a more streamlined cabinetmaking process. We are looking at building all of our internal structure parametrically the same, then when it comes to finished ends, placing a 1/4" skin on the end to create a finished end look. What is the best way to attach this 1/4" skin to a 1/2" unfinished end? We think some sort of adhesive is the way to go.

Forum Responses
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
From contributor H:
If you are doing face frame, then contact cement works well. For frameless I prefer an added end panel. This way only doors, mouldings, and toekicks go to finisher.

From contributor X:
Since 1969 I have been using 1/8 inch skins applied to various types of material thus making a finish end. I applied white/yellow glue and placed the materials in my 5 foot x 9 foot press to dry. After it was dry I would route the panels for a clean edge, then assemble. Was quite a savings during those days.

From the original questioner:
We are doing face frame, so maybe contact cement? We want a nice looking veneer end. Are there skins that come in 1/8" thick that would come in cherry veneer?

From contributor H:
You can order most veneers from your local supplier. You can also use wood-on-wood, which is thinner than 1/8 and safe to use contact cement on.

From contributor J:
I also build framed cabinets and use 1/4" plywood all the time for my finished ends unless the order calls for raised panels. I dado my case sides into the frames (sides only, not tops or bottoms). I cut the dado 1/4" wider on the finished ends so the ply can slide into the dado. Makes a nice clean joint. If I attach the panels in the shop, I like to use spray contact cement (StarStuk). No brads or staples required and it's there forever. When I apply the panels on site, I use Liquid Nails and a few brads. This is my second choice used only when I can't figure out how to spray contact cement on site without making a mess.

Contributor H mentioned wood-on-wood. This product would also be a good choice, although more expensive and a little harder to work with than 1/4" ply. I use it for refacing and have never had any issues with the glue bleeding through. I like working with it when I get the chance.