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I'm building frame and panel sides for a cabinet, which I've never done before, and had a question about the glue up. I'm use mortise and tenons to make the frame and the panel will be floating inside a dado to allow to wood movement.

I assume that you first apply glue to the 2 bottom joints, put in the 2 stiles to the bottom rail, slide in the frame, then glue and attach the top rail.

When gluing any joint, I was told that there should be some squeeze out to ensure that adequate glue was used. But if there is squeeze out from the mortise into the nearby dado, couldn't the panel potentially get glued in place (when the intent is to have it remain free to move a little)?

If you were to use less glue in this case to reduce squeeze out, how can you be assured that enough glue has been used to make a strong joint? Is there another way to make a frame and panel to circumvent this?

  • Are your panels plywood or solid wood? – scanny Jan 5 '17 at 4:59
  • Solid wood panels. – user2162167 Jan 5 '17 at 5:08
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I assume that you first apply glue to the 2 bottom joints, put in the 2 stiles to the bottom rail, slide in the frame, then glue and attach the top rail.

Pretty much yes. That's textbook in some cases.

When gluing any joint, I was told that there should be some squeeze out to ensure that adequate glue was used.

Usually yes, but not always with M&T joints.

Squeeze-out is vital for a panel glue-up as an indicator that enough glue was spread on the joints, but with a M&T you can get a good glue joint with zero excess coming out of the joint if you leave a little headspace for excess glue to collect in. So it's common advice now to form your mortises slightly deeper than the length of your tenons.

couldn't the panel potentially get glued in place (when the intent is to have it remain free to move a little)?

In theory yes, but in practice if it needed to it would probably pop those glue joints.

One tip that can help with this potential worry is to pre-finish the panels. This is generally a good idea anyway as during the driest months the unfinished edges of a panel can peek out if finishing was doing after assembly (see first image in this previous Answer).

Once finish is on the panel it can't be glued firmly by any glue that does happen to get on it.

  • Space balls -- these: rockler.com/space-balls-raised-panel-door-spacers , not the 1987 documentary -- will help keep your panel from rattling. – Aloysius Defenestrate Jan 5 '17 at 16:12
  • @AloysiusDefenestrate Yes those are good, I'm always forgetting about those (probably has something to do with them not being available over here LOL). Although you can use strips of high-density foam and one or two other things to achieve the same result. – Graphus Jan 5 '17 at 18:12

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