Butt Joint Assembly Technique

How to hold cabinet pieces in place while assembling with butt joints. October 14, 2009

For those of you who construct with butt joints and screws, how do you keep your decks and shelves aligned and square while you insert screws? I construct the case first and then attach the frame, but I was thinking of using a framing square to pencil some marks in place and then shooting a few staples in before the screws. I was wondering if there was a quicker way, or maybe one with no pencil.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor A:
Rip a couple of spacers and set the shelf on it, then shoot screws. I usually just hold the decks flush, but you can use a clamp to hold it there till you get a couple of screws in.

From contributor B:
Cut spacers, shoot some brads to tack, tap tap to align perfectly, pre-drill, then screw.

From contributor A:
We use spacers and start with the tops and bottoms being shot, then adjusted and screwed. Pantry cabinets get squared and marked but I have been thinking of making some standard spacer boards for some of them.

I also build frameless cabinets without toekicks attached. If you have your sides notched for toes then I might rip a bunch of strips the proper height and nail the strip to the bottom of the side before assembly so that there is no mismatch side-to-side. I also butt joint and conformat screw my 3/4 backs on the cabinets. Total time per box assembly with hardware is about 8-15 minutes, depending on person building boxes.

A typical base cabinet has the following: 2 sides, bottom, back, 3 stretchers, 4 hingeplates, drawer runners, hardware and spacers for 2 roll out trays, and 4 skid blocks underneath cabinet.