routing rabbets for shelves?


Old 05-31-09, 04:59 AM
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routing rabbets for shelves?

Hello, I am planning on building a set of shelves using 1/2" MDF. 48" high, 48" wide, 12" deep, four shelves with center supports.

I want to set the ends of each shelf in a rabbet joint, reinforced with nails.

First, how deep should I make the rabbet?

Second, given that I will be routing rabbets across a 48x12 inch piece of MDF (so, there will be four 12" rabbets), how do I ensure that the rabbets are perfectly straight? I'll be using a Ryobi handheld plunge router (first time).

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Old 05-31-09, 09:54 AM
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1/2" MDF won't make a very sturdy set of shelves. I would opt for 3/4", and cut the rabbets no more than 3/8" into the MDF. If you have side to side shelving, you will need to build them separately and join them later, applying a face trim.
Making them perfectly straight and in the right place requires the use of a good tape measure, and either a framing square, 12" swanson square (preferred), or a try square. Make sure you meaure from either the top or bottom on each piece in the same location and draw lines using a square. Don't use the plunge feature of your router. Set it static at your desired depth. Clamp a piece of straight wood across your piece the distance it is from the edge of your router bit to the edge of the router foot. With this clamp straight across your cut it gives you a guide to make the perfect rabbett.
Old 05-31-09, 12:57 PM
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My mistake, it is 3/4" MDF.

Thanks so much for the rest of the info!
Old 05-31-09, 04:02 PM
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To add to Chandlers suggestions, I would make the shelves with 3/4 plywood. MDF will not survive long term, it will sag more than plywood. Mid-line support is still a good idea,
Old 05-31-09, 04:08 PM
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And just for technical accuracy, the top and bottom of the unit would be rabbets, the middle ones would be dadoes. Beer 4U2
Old 06-23-09, 09:15 PM
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To prevent the shelves from saggin under load use 1x2 to cover the edge and provide shelf support.
Old 06-24-09, 06:59 AM
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Instead of Dados

a few years back I built a double set of 8' high 4' wide and instead of routing I cut extra pieces of MDF and used them as supports on the sides and back to hold the shelves...this made the sides + back 1 1/2 thick with full 3/4" deep "dados". Start at the bottom and work your way up...everthing can be cut with just a table saw. Beware that this will be very heavy
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