Solid Wood or Veneered Plywood?

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Forum topic by ProutyBoy posted 02-11-2008 05:47 AM 1393 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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33 posts in 3787 days

02-11-2008 05:47 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I will be building some custom shelves for a client soon and am wondering whether I can use solid wood for the build or if I should stay on the safe side and use plywood with a banding. The design will be a set of interlocking “c” shapes each being about 50” long by 18” tall and 5” deep. For strength and aesthetics, I plan on the shelves being about 1.25” thick. I am wondering about movement in kiln dried lumber. They will probably be made from oak, cherry, or curley maple. Do you think that’s too long to go with solid wood?

Here is the basic design:


Also, as far as mounting them, I was thinking about keyholes set at 45 degrees so they can be mounted on the vertical and horizontal edges and hit the studs. Anyone know of something that might be stronger than that but still be removable in case they want to move or redesign the system?

9 replies so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4017 days

#1 posted 02-11-2008 07:17 AM

I have a question. Where would you find 1.25” think plywood?

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View ProutyBoy's profile


33 posts in 3787 days

#2 posted 02-11-2008 03:32 PM

I would laminate two pieces if I went with plywood and then edge band them.

BTW: I grew up in east TX. Hughes Springs to be exact.

View Mario's profile


902 posts in 4080 days

#3 posted 02-11-2008 03:40 PM

I agree with ProutyBoy about the plywood and edgebanding. I do have a question though, how will they be secured to the wall.?

-- Hope Never fails

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 3903 days

#4 posted 02-11-2008 03:58 PM

I think I’d lean toward solid wood. If it’s properly kiln dried, 1¼” thick, jointed flat, then I don’t think it’s going anywhere. Additionally, I don’t think I would trust keyhole slots in the edge of plywood.

I saw plans for this style of shelves somewhere (too many magazine subscriptions), but I don’t remember how they attached the shelves to the wall. You’d need a bunch of keyholes, and getting the screws in the right spots in the wall would be a challenge.

-- -- --

View EaglewoodsPres's profile


53 posts in 3759 days

#5 posted 03-10-2008 05:34 AM

I would vote the plywood method. Laminate to your 1 1/4 thickness and band it. As far as the mounting method. I have used, to some sucess, a metal rod technique. 1/2” metal rods drilled into the studs and epoxied in place. Corresonding holes drill 3/4 of the way into the shelves hold the weight. Out of sight and sturdy. The one drawback to this method is the layout. You almost have to temporarily hold the unit to the wall, level it, and carefully mark where the holes need to be on the wall and on the shelf. Very labor intensive.

-- Chris ( )

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10123 posts in 4081 days

#6 posted 03-18-2008 06:51 AM

I also vote for the Plywood…
Laminated ply would a WHOLE LOT stronger than solid wood, could be butt glued, if desired, and it would be very strong. Whatever joint was used would be covered by the edge banding.

BTW, very nice design… have never seen it before… COOL!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View cpt_hammer's profile


133 posts in 3841 days

#7 posted 03-18-2008 07:18 PM

I recently was looking through a magazine on storage solutions and they rated solid wood as stronger than plywood for bookshelves. They said you can safely load 36” of solid wood shelves with books assuming 25lbs/ft load weight and only 30” with plywood. which one is correct? They also showed a couple of ways you can increased the strength of plywood by applying a solid wood front edging and other methods to strength shelves.

View SPalm's profile


5320 posts in 3911 days

#8 posted 03-18-2008 07:30 PM

If it was me doing it, I would go with plywood and edge banding.

My first thougt for attaching it was a french cleat, but that would show. I don’t think getting those keyholes to line up would be very much fun at all. I have seen some hidden mount shelves like this that use a metal plate with pins/rods sticking out that is attached to the wall. These pins and the plate fit into holes and a routed recess in the back of the shelves. You just push the shelves on and secure with a small screw from the bottom. Kind of like what Chris was describing. It’s got to be strong though.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 3752 days

#9 posted 03-19-2008 03:31 AM

I would go with the plywood. I like the idea of doubling it up, as a book shlelf the length you are looking at, 3/4” may begin to bow ill not supported at every stud. Also I don’t think the keyholes are the right way to go for mounting it. I have seen the pin method mentioned above by Chris and Steve, and as long as you do not live in an earthquake prone area, the shelves will stay right where you want them.

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

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