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A cabinet needs some type of fastener to hold it together. Often glue is combined with nails or screws to make a joint even stronger.


  • Wood glue - essentially the same as Elmer's white glue but with coloring and additives to make it set up faster than white glue
  • White glue - the regular stuff commonly found at your local "-mart" store.
  • Polyurethane glue - unlike yellow or white glue that requires air to cure, polyurethane glue requires moisture to cure. Polyurethane is excellent at joining dissimilar materials such as wood and plastic. When curing, it "foams", so clamps are a must with this type of glue.

  • When working with MDF, remember this trick to get better results. You'll find the edges rougher and more porous than the face. Gluing as you normally would can "starve" the joint of glue. To avoid this, "double glue" the joint. Apply a coat of glue to the edges of the boards but do not assemble! Allow this first layer to soak in. Then apply a second layer of glue and assemble the panels. The first layer helps seal the surface, while the second application works to create a solid bond.


Self-explanatory, except to say for building a cabinet, screws are the preferred method, but nails can be used if you wish, however, plywood or solid wood panels are recommended if using nails


tip for a better joint
Screws will require special methods when used with MDF. Screws installed into the edges of MDF can cause it to split, resulting in a weak or failed joint. You'll need to drill a pilot hole for your screws. Use a drill bit the same diameter as the shank of your screw, and drill your hole slightly deeper than the length of your screw. Secondly, use sraight-shanked screws to avoid splitting the material and also to get a better grip in the material. "Sheet Metal" screws are a decent inexpensive choice for MDF. Special screws, called Confirmat screws, are available but somewhat costly. Coarse-threaded drywall screws will also perform well with MDF.
MDF fibers will "pull up" when driving screws into the pilot hole causing a "bump" around the shank of the screw. This can make it more difficult to get a tight joint between panels. If you countersink the pilot holes at both faces of each panel, it creates a cavity that gives the "bump" somewhere to go. This allows for a stronger, better looking joint.Here is a link with more tips on joining MDF. MDF assembly


Arcade controls (e.g. joysticks, trackballs) are often connected to the control panel with bolts. Although this does leave the head of the bolt exposed, it is the strongest way to secure components which are likely to take a lot of stress. It is crucial to use a lock-washer on the underside in addition to the nut. Experience has shown without lock-washers, even the tightest nut seems to work loose after a few months of hard play.

Knockdown Fittings and Connectors

Knockdown fittings create temporary joints allowing the cabinet to be disassembled. Often used in store bought bookcases and desks, some argue that these are not as strong as bolts or screws. But when it will be necessary to move the project from the work area to it's final home, knockdown fittings provide a simple solution.



See Also