Back Panels On Desk - Cutting Error, Modification or Design Feature?

A friend asked me if I could repair this desk. One of the interior side panels (where your legs go) had split along a glue joint. I'm pretty sure it's maple. It weighs in at about a half a ton. ;-)
https://i.imgur.com/vCG8xG7.jpg
There are 2 panels on the back, one on each side, that cover the openings for the lower 2 drawers. This image shows the back with one panel removed. You'll notice screw holes down each side, very close to the edge of the side boards of the desk. If you look closely, you'll see a nail hole in the center of the top and the bottom, right next to a screw hole.
https://i.imgur.com/0bXFzQJ.jpg
Here is an image of the other side, with the panel still installed. Notice the screws with the finish washers. Both panels had the same screws and finish washers, in the same pattern, and both panels had a small nail in the center at the top and bottom of the panel.
https://i.imgur.com/BP2jOE7.jpg
OK, so here is what I'm curious about: Those screws are so close to the edge of the side boards of the desk that they had to be screwed in at angle in order to catch the board. Both sides were done the same way.
This image was taken through the front of the desk with back panel installed. Notice the hole that I circled. You can see light through the hole in the panel. That hole will eventually be filled with an angled screw.
https://i.imgur.com/mEow8vk.png
I see 3 possible reasons for the panels to be sized so that the screws had to be angled:
1 - They were cut too small to begin with and the builder decided not to cut bigger ones.
2 - The panels were cut to the size that the builder wanted, attached only with the 2 nails and sometime later someone else decided to add screws and finish washers. They are certainly not "modern" screws, so if the attachment method was modified, it was done quite some time ago. Just FYI...the nails were not loose. After removing the screws, I had to pound the panel off from the inside.
3 - The screws were purposely put in at angle during the initial build so that they didn't split the side boards. (Seems to me that slightly larger panels and pre-drilling would have served the same purpose.)
Any other thoughts or reasons that you can think of?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 2/23/2019 6:17 PM, DerbyDad03 wrote: ...

If you're just asking about "why" the builder did what did, we're into pure speculation.
One _might_ conjecture from the way they're kinda' just tacked on top of the upper back they actually aren't original but were added later...they don't seem to really fit any other particular visible style/technique.
If they were original, my second conjecture would be they were a "woops!" add-on, didn't really plan out what had in mind for the backs and so same story as above, just different person.
Why they were cut that narrow was probably (again, purely conjecture) the idea of keeping the edges from showing around the corners since it wasn't planned ahead to rabbet the back to inset them which would have been the better way if using a solid ply back panel.
Having done so, at least the "whoever" did have the sense to angle into the material instead of blowing-out the sides with "straight in". One (small) atta-boy! for that minor feat. :)
If the question were to go on to "a better way", somebody else already asked about how much clearance there is behind the drawers for adding (I believe they suggested quarter-round) a stop so could fasten to it directly.
My inclination as a primitive-like piece, leave it as nearly as originally you found it as possible and unless the screws are actually splitting out the inside of the side panels, they serve the function and don't really hurt anything and are unlikely to create more trouble going forward.
$0.02, imo, ymmz, etc., etc., etc., ... a "hands on" inspection to peek and poke and examine minutely might draw other conclusions, but that's what I think from these pictures.
(BTW, These aren't the ones I thought I recalled from before...these are sufficient to see the general idea, indeed.)
--




Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Friday, March 1, 2019 at 6:38:33 PM UTC-5, dpb wrote:

Same and only pictures I posted related to the back panels.
I can't do any further inspection re: prior existence of nailer strips or anything else as I am out town for the weekend. I'll take look on Tuesday.
SWMBO and I are in Philadelphia. Going to the Flower Show at the convention center tomorrow. Supposedly the largest indoor flower show in the US. We just got back from seeing a play at the Walnut Street Theater, the oldest theater in the country. Half price day-of-show tickets, walking distance from where we're staying. I could throw a rock and hit the liberty bell. Well, if it wasn't locked up inside a building, that is. ;-)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Friday, March 1, 2019 at 6:38:33 PM UTC-5, dpb wrote:

Here is an picture of the inside of the carcass. There is no evidence of there ever being a nailer strip for the rear panels. There is indeed a lot of room behind the drawer where a nailer strip could have existed (2"+) but, again, no remnants or evidence of anything that fell off.
The reason for the "narrow" panels and angled screws remains a mystery.
https://i.imgur.com/vMt0oxW.jpg
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.