Disclaimer: I'm a complete newbie when it comes to woodworking so I apologize if I don't use good woodworking vocabulary.
I'm hoping to build a small hutch/monitor stand for my desk out of MDF. I'm choosing to go with 3/4" MDF because I'm a poor college student and want to go as cheap as possible. So far I've gathered that MDF and screws don't really get along and that I can use box joints for joining ends. I'm wondering if there is a good way to join two pieces of MDF in a "T" shape, like this:
I'm trying to avoid using any kind of hardware or joinery that takes up space below or above the "shelf" in the image: I need to slide an object on my desk onto the shelf and it will fit exactly.
I also don't have any power tools besides a circular saw and a power drill, so I can't cut holes for biscuits. I want each joint to be sturdy, but also aesthetically pleasing (I want my wife's support in future projects so I don't want it to look like some scraps were just slapped together).
I saw a joinery method called a "dado", and was thinking that this might work:
If this is a viable option, how deep should I cut the groove? The MDF is only 3/4" thick. How would I cut a blind dado (as shown in the image above) with hand tools?
If this is not a good option, why not? Are there any other methods I can use for a discrete but strong joint that can be implemented with hand tools?