Best cabinet design

i need to build some wall cabinets to free up floor space in the new shop. I need about 10 -12 ft of units. probably 15in deep and 18 - 24 high. i have never tried to do this before so I have a raft of questions. i plan on using 3/4 plywood unless there is a reason not to.
What is the best corner joint to use? I have the bits to do lock joints if that’s best.
Should I build individual boxes and link them together or build longer units and put in separators?
If I use 3/4 for construction should the back panels be that thick or something less?
Do you favor rabitting in the shelves or using pins to keep them adjustable.
Anything else I need to consider?
Thanks in advance for your help.


What I did was buy a bunch of used rollarounds off Craigs list some stackable ones for above the base units, that takes care of lots of the smaller tools and also built wooden cabinets for most all of the power tools. I found that the 1/2" melamine plywood for the carcasses and the drawers is excellent choice. Just make boxes and mount drawer slides on the sides the drawer boxes with hardwood fronts attached. The lock miter,lock rabbit, box joints, or half lap all work good on the drawer boxes.
The tools that had steel stands I built boxes to go between the legs, and had sloping sides to match the legs with graduated drawers.

Thanks, I don’t have the floor space for the rollaways but I will sure build in units in the legs.

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I’ve built a few cabinets. Generally 3/4 ply feels rock solid. 1/2 doesn’t feel rock solid but I haven’t had any problems with it. I used brad nails and glue on butt joints for all the joinery, and that’s plenty strong. Cutting rabbets would make assembly easier but I don’t think it matters for the strength.

Work (day job) cabinet. Everything 3/4 ply, with edge banding:

Shop cabinets. Everything 1/2 ply. I wish I had used 3/4 for the top and bottom, but never noticed any actual sagging/problems. These cabinets are on casters, which I really like, because I store some plywood behind them and it makes it much easier to get in/out.

Book shelves. Everything 3/4 ply with edge banding so paint doesn’t show the edges.

For my next shop cabinets I’ll probably go 3/4 ply top/bottom, 1/2 ply everything else.

If you’re making shelves, I really like the pin holes. You never know when you’ll want to move where the shelves are, and when that happens you’ll be really glad you did. Although you can always drill holes later, of course. Just a little more awkward.


Thanks for the input

How are tha cabinets coming,Bill?

Project on hold for now. Wife decided she wanted a new bathroom. So laying a new floor and adding a wall treatment and a new vanity made from an antique dresser. Thanks for asking

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½" is plenty strong…

rebated rabbet…

rebated rabbet 2

the longer the box the less material you will use… you will also save on work and pick up more usable space…

you won’t need more than ¼"…
installed w/ modified truss head screws it will be stronger than strong…

modified truss head

definitely pins…
standards are even better… way strong and they won’t quit or tear out… They’re the cat’s meow!!!


I like book case style shelving covered w/ sliding doors…
major simple construction, easy access, most usable space you can have and the doors can be used as wall space…

no need for exotic hardware…
Basic woodshop tool needs - #10 by Stick486

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Thanks everyone for all the ideas and help. I finished the cabinets. If I had purchased cabinets of this quality, I would have given them a one star. However, since they are a first attempt, I am not terribly displeased. Learned a bunch and needed the practice.