Cabinet Assembly: Clamping for Screwing Butt Joints

Quick and simple ways to hold pieces where they belong while assembling a cabinet carcase. March 9, 2008

Up until now, I have used pocket screws to construct my plywood cabinets. I would like to start making most of my cabinets with screws from the sides into the bases and stretchers. The way that I clamp for pocket screwing would mean that the clamps themselves would be in the way. I can't really justify a case clamp at this stage, and it looks to me from the pictures of case clamps that I have seen that they also would be in the way of screwing through from the outside of the cabinet. Can anyone advise on a suitable clamping/construction method? I have looked through the Knowledge Base articles, and it seems that many people are screwing through from the outside, but they don't say how they are holding the cabinet parts together while they do this.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor I:
I build my cabinets this way. I shoot a couple brads or staples to hold the pieces together, then I run the screws in. No clamps needed.

From contributor D:
I'm with contributor I on that one. Take some 1" staples to hold the parts in place and start screwing and gluing.

From contributor J:
My method takes a bit longer but it works well for me. For Euro cabinetry I build my base cabinets 30' high and use ladder frames. This makes it very easy to go through the whole stack of parts with my biscuit jointer in a short amount of time. Then when I'm ready to assemble I glue in the biscuits and screw through the sides into the top and bottom of the box. I use #8 x 2" screws from McFeeley's which work very well, especially when using the impact driver. If it's a finished side, I'll pocket screw through the top and bottom into the side from the outside of the box.

From contributor P:
I clamp with quick clamps, then screw with Confirmats. I've predrilled guide holes in the sides. It's done with my line boring machine set to make that line of holes in the middle of the 3/4 top and bottom of the cabinet. I use five confirmats for a base cabinet and three for a wall cabinet. No glue. There's no way that cabinet will come apart unless the melamine breaks around the screw. Just one way of many.

From contributor D:
I use confirmats when using applied ends and Minifix for shared panels and when there's no applied end. I use a bit of Roo glue and no clamps during assembly. With confirmats you can tweak part alignment with a hammer and the glue insures the parts stay where you want them. It doesn't take much, so squeeze-out can be avoided. Minifix in 7mm holes are like dowels, almost zero tweak-ability (a coarse rat-tail file will work in a pinch).

From contributor S:
I recently switched over from staple and screw to dowel (Hoffmann PDS 32) and glue and it has been faster and easier to assemble and obtain proper alignment with the boxes.

From contributor P:
With no applied end, and I don't want any fasteners to show, I use biscuits and then clamp the end to the box.