Shiplapped Cabinet Backs

Easy to make, shiplapped backs add a decorative element to cabinet interiors.
By Scott Gibson
Pages: 68-71

From the October 2005 issue #150
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Inexpensive and dimensionally stable, plywood is a nearly ideal material for the back of a cabinet. For large kitchen cabinets and built-ins, plywood also adds strength and rigidity to the cabinet box, especially when it’s glued in place. But plywood doesn’t contribute very much aesthetically when the inside of a cabinet will be on display. To open a finely made wall cabinet and come face to face with a plywood backing is a little deflating. It works, yes, but it could have been so much more.

Shiplapped solid lumber is one alternative that’s a lot more agreeable to look at. A back made this way consists of a series of individual boards whose edges meet in overlapping L-shaped profiles. While a shiplapped back isn’t as strong as plywood, it offers many more design possibilities. Widths of individual boards can be uniform or varied, for example, and they can be given a decorative edge profile or made in a wood that contrasts with the rest of the cabinet. Even the narrow vertical lines of a very simple shiplapped back become an interesting visual element in a cabinet interior.

From the October 2005 issue #150
Buy this issue now