The following article applies to units with a "nailed on," as opposed to a "slide in" back panel.
Some of the most common issues that customers call about include drawers not completely shutting or appearing crooked, the presence of an ugly gap by the drawer slot, drawers falling off track, and doors that are crooked, won’t completely shut or misalign. The back panel is one of those small players that can have a big impact. When properly assembled, your item has a solid foundation, regardless of what type of furniture it is. Built upon this cornerstone, all other pieces can properly function at their role. Doors align, drawers stay on track, shelves are level, and the entire structure looks symmetrical and straight; this in turn will vastly increase functionality and the length of time that your unit will be serviceable. To accomplish this, please read and follow these simple steps:
- Know your terminology: Some terms to be familiar with are chassis, squaring and back panel. The chassis is comprised of the top, sides and bottom panels of the unit and squaring it means that the corners each measure 90 degrees. The back panel is a 2mm sheet of high-density cardboard (HDC); its role is to keep the chassis square.
- Make sure the chassis is square. This is not something to just eyeball. With the help of another person, carefully lay the chassis face down on the floor, then take the measurements diagonally from corner to corner and compare. If the measurement is as little as 1/16th of an inch off, it is not square. To get a feel for a sixteenth of an inch, consider the barrel end of a spaghetti noodle, the width of a single grain of rice, or the thickness of the graphite in a mechanical pencil. It’s small! If your tape measure only divides an inch into 8 segments, it’s half of one of those. If the measurements do not match: give the corner of the longer measurement a gentle nudge and reevaluate. It is not uncommon to need to adjust and remeasure several times before getting this right.
- Place the back panel on the unit. The back panel is a good tool because each of its corners is exactly 90 degrees. Once you know your diagonal measurements are equal, place the back panel on and see how it compares. Flush the edge against the bottom of the unit and evenly space the back panel between the chassis sides. Take care to note that the backing does not extend beyond what will be the top of your furniture! It’s an important piece but does not add to the aesthetics if it peeks over the top!
- Secure four nails on the back panel, one at the center of each side. This will keep the back panel in place, but still allow for adjustments to be made if needed.
- Double check the measurements. Once the back panel is positioned, remeasure to ensure that the chassis has not been bumped or moved. Because only the centers are connected, it is possible to make necessary adjustments without removing the hardware.
- Nail the corners and remeasure. After the first nail is secured, go to the opposite corner and hammer that in next. Repeat with the remaining corners and remeasure. To quote an old adage, measure twice, cut once. For the back panel, we could change that to measure thrice, install once. This may seem like overkill, but it isn’t. Improperly installed back panels are at the root of so many issues, and it is paramount that we get this right!
- Install all remaining nails to fully secure the back panel. After all other nails are secured, you can say with assurance that your unit is square and can confidently move on to the next step in the assembly manual!
Remember that whether this step in the instructions gave you pause or not, we are here to help! We want you to be successful at your furniture build and completely satisfied with your purchase. Our friendly customer service team would be happy to help with any part of assembly or answer any questions you might have!
Following along the upper ledge of this dresser, the back panel is noticeably attached at an angle:
The same dresser, when turned around, exhibits uncooperative drawers.
The taller the item, the more profound this mis-assembly can be, and storage cabinets are among the tallest. This manifests as excessive and/or uneven gapping, door corners not lining up, the back panel being visible at the top or bottom of the unit:
It is frustrating to complete a project and face these results, but even at the finish line, it isn’t too late to correct. By carefully removing drawers and laying the unit face down on a soft surface, the back panel can be removed, corrected, and reattached.