All-wood cabinet - No plywood - Trouble?

I scored 60-70 bf of some beautiful cherry at less than $2/bf. I am wanting to make a dresser and matching nightstand. The plans from Woodsmith have plywood sides, banded on the front edges, plywood horizontal dividers (also banded), and plywood for the bottom of the carcase (on top of an all-wood stand) and the top of the carcase (covered by an all-wood top). 1/4" plywood for the door panel (rail and stile frame). Drawers are all wood.
It is cheaper to use the wood than to buy cherry-faced 3/4" and 1/4" plywood. I can glue up pieces to replace the plywood, but I am worried about seasonal expansion. None of the pieces will be more than 18" (perpendicular to the grain). Would gluing up an 18" deep carcase (17-22" high) with a horizontal wood divider, present unacceptable risks of splitting?
I'm not even sure how to think this issue through. Never had wood this cheap before.
Thanks in advance.
Greg
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I have a 44" wide cherry DR table with breadboard ends. It is properly constructed to allow fo movement. That said, it also served a as a pretty good beasuring stick for crossgrain movement. In Northern NY, I see about 1/8" per foot of cross-grain movement. I don't air condition and New England has less swing in RH than alot of part of the USA.
There is a data point, take it for what it is worth.
Personally I would not try to make a plywood design work with solids. I would adapt a solid wood design for your needs. That is, either go frame and panel, or find a way to let that divider "float" inside the carcase.
Regards,
Steve

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"Greg" wrote

You are absolutely correct in being concerned!

Plywood is an excellent "secondary" wood, even in "fine furniture" projects, for both those parts that don't show, or in areas where the dimensional stability of the plywood outweighs any future effects of the dimensional instability of the "primary" wood.
IOW, it is OK, and even desirable in many cases, to use plywood over hardwood, so don't let that bother you.
That said ...
If you want to make a basic "hardwood" carcase (think of a box, turned on it's side) for your project, then do it with a dovetail or box joint on the four corners, and with the grain running long ways around the perimeter of the top, bottom, and both sides.
This way you will basically have mitigated any relative humidity induced dimensional instability of your primary wood _for that particular assembly_, and you will have an exceedingly strong case, that will sit on top of the proposed all-wood stand, and that should stand the test of time.
With regard to the "horizontal wood divider":
For lack of your plan, I'm assuming that the mentioned "horizontal wood divider" is indeed a drawer "dust frame" between drawers, or between drawers and a cabinet space, with said "horizontal wood divider" dadoed into the carcase sides?
If that is the case, you do not necessarily want to use your primary hardwood to construct the entire dust frame/"horizontal wood divider" ... that would be just a waste of good wood that will never be seen.
Instead use a "secondary" wood, like poplar or plywood, to construct the majority of the dust frame/horizontal divider, but glue a primary hardwood piece to the front, 1" wide or so, and across the full length that will be visible.
Now, and very important, when you make a horizontal divider like the above in casework, you generally end up with a cross grain situation when gluing it into the sides of the carcase.
To overcome this, it is prudent to glue only the front three or four inches of each side of the "horizontal wood divider" into the side dadoes, leaving the remaining back part of the dust frame on both side unglued for expansion room, AND making sure that the dust frame does NOT touch the back of your casework.

Take a look at the link below.
While I did not go into great detail of each step in the process, this particular project includes many of the basic casework elements above, and hopefully the pictures will make up for description and give you some ideas:
http://www.e-woodshop.net/Projects13.htm
If not, ask back.
Your doors are another matter all together. Plywood door panels are a good for the inexperienced, but cherry doors, glued up from planned down primary stock, will undoubtedly look better, but be subject to expansion.
There is plenty of information on the web on building panel doors ... DAGS "making panel doors".
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 10/22/08
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