Lowboy case glue up


New member
Hello, I am seeking advice on gluing up side panel pieces to legs posts (building a lowboy dresser) that account for wood movement so as not to have the side panels crack with expansion. I will be using hot hide glue and draw bore pinning haunched tenons. I have read about using no glue in two of the three tenons and ovaling the pin hole, similar to a breadboard joint. Full gluing all of the mortise and tenons, then pinning afterwards. Putting the panel under clamped tension near the tenons before gluing. And adding glycerin to the glue to make it flexible. Thoughts?!
I made a highboy for a customer in the 1990's and I glued all the M&Ts in the lowboy part and put the panels under clamped tension. A few months later he returned the lowboy because the sides cracked (they could not move). I re-built the lowboy but glued only one M&T and elongated the other tenon holes for the pins. Perfect! It never cracked again. Now I use this method all the time and have never had any problems. Putting the panels under clamped tension is a "fairy tale" as it does nothing to prevent wood movement and prevent cracking.

Dennis Bork
I'm finishing a Queen Anne desk with the sides M&T, then pegged into the legs. As described each side panel has three tenons. I pegged all three, but only glued the bottom tenon. The top two pegs have elongated holes in the tenons so there is room for movement. You can find an extended writeup on the entire project here, or just the panels in this post.

I glued the bottom tenon since I have trim that runs around the base. I didn't want the sides to pull away from this trim. Any shrinkage occurs at the top of the side panel, and is hidden under the overhang of the desk top. It's a different application from your highboy, so you may want to pick a different tenon to glue. FWIW, I've noticed some slight shrinkage now that we're in the winter months here (maybe 1/32"). No splits, though.
I glued the bottom M&T and elongated the holes in the middle and upper tenons. I kept the sides a little shy of touching the underside of the top (for movement) because a molding was applied under the top and this covered the gap.
Dennis Bork