Thin shelves

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Forum topic by m88k posted 05-17-2010 11:07 PM 1326 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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83 posts in 2973 days

05-17-2010 11:07 PM

I’m working on designing my new desk, borrowing the basic concept from this pottery barn unit I found online.

I’m replacing one of the shelving units with a mail sorter design, dimensioned to let me store either individual papers or notebooks. I was planing on using hardboard for the shelves, but the project is rapidly moving upscale. If using red oak ply, how thick do you think the shelves need to be? they’ll be covering an 11 inch span, supported by dados of undetermined depth. Will 1/8 cut it?

My previous projects have been brutish creations with cheap framing timber; I’m a little out of my depth with some of my design details…

-- ~Mark

5 replies so far

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3096 days

#1 posted 05-18-2010 03:40 AM

I’ve done things like this with 1/4” stock with no problems. 1/8th sounds too thin to me. Hardboard will work but an oak or birch plywood would look better.

If possible, I would advise you to cut your dados 1/4” deep. I would also advise you to cut your stock just a hair (1/64”) shorter than the length from dado bottom to dado bottom. This will make it easier to slide the stock into place.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View a1Jim's profile


117113 posts in 3598 days

#2 posted 05-18-2010 03:45 AM

Depending on what your going to store on the shelves I would go with 1/4”-1/2” thick.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View m88k's profile


83 posts in 2973 days

#3 posted 05-18-2010 04:13 AM

Thanks for the input; I had no clue how deep dadoes need to be.

The point of this thing is lots of tiny shelves; here's a sort of example, the overall shape is wrong, but it’s the right sort of boxes/shelves.

Each shelf will probably carry a maximum of 3 spiral bound notebooks; the typical load will be measured in sheets. Any larger loads will go on the bottom shelves, which are at least 3/4in ply, possibly a torsion box.

-- ~Mark

View wichle's profile


96 posts in 2968 days

#4 posted 05-18-2010 04:18 AM

I have an old rolltop desk that needed some repair. 1/4” ply has worked fine for sheves and paper holder. Use 1/4” deep dado’s for support. Have done the same to replace some drawer bottoms.

-- Bill, Michigan "People don't come preassebled, but are glued together by life"

View Michael Murphy's profile

Michael Murphy

453 posts in 3027 days

#5 posted 05-18-2010 05:05 AM

If all you are supporting is a ream of paper then 1/4” thick ply with a banded edge, masonite, or plexiglas is all you need. Give it a bit of clearance to slide in and out like Rich says. Very simple.

-- Michael Murphy, Woodland, CA.

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