Stapling Cabinet Backs On

Avoiding blow-outs when attaching cabinet backs using staples. October 25, 2007

I'm looking for a faster way to attach my backs to my cabs. I use screws now, but find it too time-consuming. I'd like to use staples but need a recommendation as to gauge and length to minimize blowout inside the cabinets. That's the main reason I've never used staples in the past.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor J:
3/16"x 5/8" 23ga wire staples. I use Senco J stapler and d10 staples. I use them about every 6" or so and down sides and across bottom into dado. I tried the screws, but it blows out or splits the partition.

From contributor N:
I use my old Senco K gun and 5/8" staples, plus glue. Once they're on, they're very difficult to remove. I use 1/4" birch ply for most backs. Why are you using screws?

From the original questioner:
I also believed screws would resist the backs being pulled off when the contractor installed them. So I'm now thinking staples and glue will work. I just want to get the best staple and gun for this new construction method.

From contributor T:
Depending on how you build your cabinets, I use 1/4" by 3/4" 18ga. staples and haven't had problems with blowout. No glue, but a nailer 3" by cabinet width top and bottom, screwed to the cabinet. I screw through the back and nailer sandwich into the wall studs. No nailers to look at on the inside of the cabinet - gives a cleaner look.

From contributor N:
I don't get the blowout problem, unless you're using some really narrow box material. I'm using 3/4" and there's plenty of room for error. I cut really square (as most everyone does) 1/4" birch ply backs and plant them on the back of the cabinets with glue. Using 5/8" narrow crown staples. For dividers I'll grab a metal square and draw a line, or wing it using my imaginary x-ray vision and staple through the backs, hoping to not get any shiners. My backnailers can be seen from inside, but there's only one at the top of an upper that the customer sees and it's 3" maple ply edge banded (plywood can't split over time), and one hidden nailer under the bottom of the shelf on an upper cabinet.

A Senco L gun should work fine. Like I said, I use an old 1978 Senco K gun that is perfect for nailing backs. The new Senco K guns are heavy and have too much power. An old Senco L gun (like a used one, old type) will work fine, but is slightly under powered. A new one should work great.

From contributor A:
I use primarily pre-finished plywood (3/4" bulkheads/1/2" backs). I've been using only 18 gauge staples 1 1/2" for all fasteners. We dado/rabbet (1/4") box together and staple the back on flush, no glue. It saves time with only one size and no screws.

From contributor C:
I second contributor T's method. No unsightly nailers, and you're certain it will not pull apart. Especially on uppers.

From contributor P:
I use 3/4 sides, top and bottom of the cabinet, and 1/2" backs, full overlay, stapled on, no glue. On wall cabinets, I also add screws on the top, about one every six inches. Never failed so far, and it's fast.