Alternatives to dado cabinet construction

John Elvrum offers a practical approach to identifying viable, mechanical alternatives to traditional dado joinery of cabinet boxes. 1998.

by Jon Elvrum

We are currently using traditional dado and glue construction techniques to assemble our framed cabinet boxes. We think we could speed things up by using a mechanical fastener. Are there any that are particularly well suited for this purpose?

Yes. However, any change from dado's to screws, staples, and glue demands the careful planning of how you will achieve the control needed for such methods.

Companies like Titus (Kent, WA), Hafele (Archdale, NC) and others make excellent, simple fastening systems. First, decide on the kind of assembly fitting that will match your manufacturing capabilities. You must be able to accurately cut square and drill straight.

Talk to your hardware distributor, get some samples and experiment. When you understand how they work, see if you can produce accurately enough. Then try a small job. Keep a notebook, carefully recording problems encountered, and what method you develop. Talk with the hardware company again and compare your experience with their knowledge.

Jon Elvrum, Director of Distribution and Sales at Ritter Manufacturing in Antioch California, is also a well known author and consultant to the cabinetmaking industry. He has written numerous articles on the 32mm cabinetmaking system and production woodworking in general.