Whether to Glue Cabinet Cases

More opinions and reasoning on the question, "To glue or not to glue?"February 26, 2007

Does everybody still use glue these days? I've recently had issues with a few cabinets that needed to be resized and since I used glue I had to remake. I know glue has its purpose and I have always been a proponent of it, but am thinking of how nice it would be to make a RTA cabinet so if this ever happens again, I can just disassemble instead of making firewood.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor F:
It sounds about right to me. You built a strong cabinet that was made in such a way that it wouldn't just fall apart, due in part to using adhesives. I think it would be a bit too long sighted to start building "fall apart" junk just in case you happen to build a cabinet incorrectly in the future.

Look around here for another thread about guys wanting to skip gluing their face frame joints. Hey, maybe we can make cabinet doors with no glue - no more mess and no more clogged sandpaper and if we get one dimension wrong, we can still use some of the parts!

From contributor H:
To contributor F: I have been building cabinetry for 27 years from low-end melamine apt kitchens to high end solid wood with lots of details and glazes. I have never used glue on boxes, just shoot, counter-sink and screw or pockethole. I have never had a cabinet or drawer fall apart and most of my kitchens are owned by families with an average of 6 kids and as many as 20 with lots of people working in the space at once and kids climbing everywhere.

From contributor F:
I agree that screwed together melamine boxes hold up with no glue. If you dado and rabbit your melamine boxes, why not glue? For plywood carcasses I figure why not use some glue since you can glue to plywood especially when you need a fastener free surface. I think we should build to last and not for in case we make a mistake. I have seen enough wobbly knock down junk that I wouldn't want to see built-ins being made like that.

From contributor J:
I use glue wherever I can as well and have no intentions to stop. It's cheap and makes me sleep better, not to mention the strength it adds - why not use it.

To the original questioner: You had to remake the cabinets because you'd destroy them if you tried to take them apart. To me, that's a testimony to your product and the pride you take in your craft. Are you sure you want to change course now?

From the original questioner:
I knew the answer before I posted the question but for some reason on this job I ended up burning two cabinets, one an appliance dimension glitch and the other was customer preference. No mistakes on my part so I guess I will stick with the glue, no pun.

From contributor K:
It sounds to me like the cabinet resizing was the customers problem, so the new cabinets and install time are on their dime. I agree with the others, I wouldn't change your assembly methods based on this scenario.

With regards to the boxes becoming firewood, you can still disassemble them and cut them down for cabs that are smaller. If the face frame and doors are not a standard color, the face frame should be the only casualty.

From contributor G:
I glue all cabinets. I do have to disassemble them sometimes. I take a 16 oz. hammer and give the joint a good flat fairly hard rap and almost always knock the joint apart without any damage. The wood fibers pull apart right beside the glue line. This works on the plywood boxes, the ff to box and ff joints. The hammer never leaves a bad dent and after scraping the old glue and resizing parts the cabinet is ready for assembly. I wish this also worked on the door joints. We remake them.