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Advice on a 1/2" thickness cab instead of 3/4ths with LCD?

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I do love my cab at 3/4th's thickness because it looks just like how I'd expect it to.  But dang, that thing is heavy.  I do get concerned with kids around it (even though it's fine).

I was thinking I could shrink everything down to 1/2" but are there major showstoppers you could help remind me of?  Such as:
-Looking way too "thin" (anyone have pictures/examples if so?)
-4 Wheels on the bottom without enough drive space into wood
-No t-molding size for being too thin (edit: looks like now has plenty of variety at 1/2)

I worked with MDF previously, so maybe a different material would be better suited.  Ply is definitely lighter but I'd have to laminate the side panels or do some serious wood filling/sanding to smooth it compared to MDF.

Looking for general advice.  Basically, I'd like to have a similar-looking classic design of a standup cab but lighter without resorting to ply unless it's the surefire solution.

Side note: the separately mounted CP is 1/2" for my cab and seems to be fine.  Main structure of the cab is my question.

Mike A:
Just build it with plywood.

A sheet of 3/4 inch plywood weighs about the same as 1/2 inch MDF.

I would suggest you build with plywood, I have learned to hate MDF over the years, I do currently have a CAB that is 5/8" but still heavy.

As for 1/2" plywood your right that might look a bit off, there is 5/8" plywood but probably going to need to find a lumber yard as not typically something you would see in a big box store. Also keep in mind if building from that you probably want to use Formica on the sides of the cabinet, not only will this give you an extremely flat durable surface it will increase the thickness a tad.

If you were to just do the sides with plywood, and the front coin door panel with matching melamine (I'm assuming you would do black) and that in itself would take off a significant amount of weight.

As for the Casters at the bottom just make sure you use something like 2x6's incorporated to the frame of the Cabinet and you will have plenty of material to mount those with (see a photo from a cabinet I'm currently working on, 4 casters on the bottom) If you do use casters make the front two swivel and the back two fixed.

As for your thoughts on MDF being "Classic" that 3/4 stuff was primarily in my own antidotal experience on Atari Cabs, Several other manufactures used plywood, Hell Nintendo has an extremely strange width of plywood with the Formica added = 9/16" thick. I would suspect if you have a good Bezel that is 2" in from either side you won't really notice the width of the boards anyways.

EDIT: one last tip, make sure when you make it the width is small enough to fit through a standard door frame, i know it sounds elementary but you might be surprised. Especially with control panels! If the CP does come out more than the standard width (what 36"? ) Make sure it can easily be detached for when moving the Cab :)

i would not recommend 1/2" material for anything but a countertop machine or a simple cocktail. it does not really have enough strength for an upright unless it's properly braced and glued together.

1/2 inch incidentals like t moulding and t nuts are kinda oddball and could be hard to find. you can't use the same router slot bits  for 3/4 t moulding as 1/2, it's a little smaller, so it will require another bit purchase. there are t mouldings with same as 3/4 spine sizes, but you remove so much material from the middle you risk splitting the wood when you install it... or chip a big chunk out if you bang it.

you want to see what an upright looks like in 1/2 inch, look no further than an arcade 1up machine. they are all 1/2 MDF

if weight is your concern... why you moving it so much? put it down...and leave it.

i made a fat version of the galaga cabinet (24 3/4″  inches stock vs the now 27" wide machine to accommodate a large 27" LCD monitor) out of 3/4 laminated particle board (melamine), and honestly it's not particularly heavy at all... more awkward. 2 of us (one at the top and one at the base) picked it up and took it down a spiral staircase to a basement without too much effort.

but as people said... plywood is much lighter for the same thickness. 3/4 melamine laminate is about 90 pounds per sheet (MDF is about the same). where a sheet of baltic birch plywood is about 75. get a couple sheets of that sanded and painted and call it good.

A few comments. You can absolutely build a cabinet out of 1/2 inch material but it will need a lot of internal bracing that may be inconvenient to construct. This is how we build extremely flat and rigid torsion boxes - the thickness of the outer skin is not really a big factor. However, trying to create enough bracing inside the cabinet would be prohibitive and complex and would consume a lot of material, add weight, limit internal airflow for component cooling and complicate wiring. If you were going to use a 1/2 inch material I would be concerned about using MDF without bracing due to it's propensity to sag over time. There are certainly more expensive 1/2" plywoods that could do this just fine. Keep in mind that actually quite a lot of cabinet makers use 1/2" material for certain types of cabinets in weight sensitive applications (like on boats, airplaines, RVs) without worrying about it. These cabinet systems often interlock with other units though so the actual "thickness" of individual components may be greater than 1/2" in practice.

MDF's primary advantages are cost, flatness and paintability. Its heavier than plywood, doesn't take fasteners well, doesn't play well with water. There are high quality plywoods that have a very thin mdf skin that have the best of both worlds but are certainly several times as expensive as home center MDF. Think MDO plywood. There are also MDF core plywoods that perhaps give you the worst of both worlds for this application (great for other things). The other option is melamine which is also relatively cheap but also pretty heavy.

The fact that you are moving around a full-sized cabinet a lot is surprising or are you just talking about the weight of the components during construction? You could always put the cabinet on a variety of either lockable or disconnect able castors which would allow mobility. Rockler sells some that are designed to go on to workbenches and be removed so you could just add them quickly when you want to move the cabinet which I assume isn't an awful lot or up and down stairs.


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