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Fixed shelves attach to the sides of a case with either wood joinery, hardware, or a combination of the two. Unlike adjustable shelves, fixed shelves help strengthen the entire case. And because they are attached to the case sides, fixed shelves sag less.

Fixed shelves sag less and strengthen the case

Dado Joint Shelving

DADO

Strength: Good

Appearance: Good (excellent if using a stopped dado—one that's not exposed at the front—or if covered by a face frame) A dado joint houses the ends of the shelf in a long notch, providing some mechanical strength. But a dado joint connects mostly porous end-grain surfaces, and adding glue increases the strength only nominally. The attachment strength of a shelf can be improved by combining Confirmât screws (right) with either a dado joint or a rabbeted dado joint. The screws pull the ends of the shelves into the dado, while the dado shoulder (or horizontal surface) adds strength against shear.

RABBETED DADO

Strength: Good

Appearance: Good (excellent if using a stopped dado or if covered by a face frame)

A minor variation on the dado joint is to rabbet the ends of the shelf to fit into a narrower dado. The main advantage is the ability to fit the joint more easily, especially if the shelf thicknesses are inconsistent. This joint is useful when working with hardwood plywood, which typically measures less than % in. thick. In this case, a dado cut by making a single pass with a %-in.-dia. straight router bit ends up too wide. However, with a rabbeted dado, you cut a narrow dado first, then cut the rabbet for a perfect fit.

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