In Rabbeted Cleats

Rabbeted cleats are screwed to the rear top and bottom of the case. Three panels of Vi-in. plywood slide easily into place.

ordinary. Mortise-and-tenon frames that separate the drawers are glued in the front 3 in. or so but not at the back. Leaving space at the back ensures that when the case shrinks, the frames don't push against the back of the case. Both the frame-and-panel doors and the dovetailed drawers are built using the usual methods, but I put small vertical stops behind the doors.

The rear legs and the bottom are rabbeted to accept the back. The back on the mock-up is a series of Vi-in. panels held by rabbeted cleats attached with screws. The top is ripped even with the bottom of the back rabbets so that the back boards ain up to the exposed top. (This is not critical, but it does make it easier to fit the back.) A more elegant solution would be to resaw thin shiplap boards and ain them vertically across the back. The top can be cut to allow some overhang, then molded and screwed down from below.

Alternative constructions

There are a number of places where construction can be altered to save wood or to produce a slightly different effect. People are often surprised by the use of a full-board top and bottom. While it does use extra wood, it also adds strength to the case, resists cupping at the ends, and provides built-in kickers for the top drawers.

As a substitute, you could use two wide rails, with gussets or without. If your design has no cupboard space, you could use similar rails at the bottom. To allow for wood shrinkage, remember to fit any kickers with gaps at the shoulders and leave the rear tenons unglued.

The case ends could also be thinner than the legs, creating either a reveal where the ends join the legs or a recessed nook inside the case. Because of the added complexity of the case dovetails and drawer frames in the latter option, I would use it only if saving weight or wood is an issue.

It's easy to add decorative aprons between the legs (see the bottom drawing at right). At the lamination stage of making the case ends, glue on the outer layer

Secondary (inner) wood

Secondary (inner) wood

Rabbeted For Backboards
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