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Solid or ply for shelves

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Forum topic by sawedoff posted 01-19-2013 03:44 PM 1750 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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sawedoff

134 posts in 1071 days


01-19-2013 03:44 PM

What’s the general concensus about what to use for shelves? I’m looking at building some either out of oak boards or ply or maple wood or birch ply. The longest shelf would be 48”, however, I believe there will be a divider which would make them slightly less than 24” each.

Thanks

-- still wet behind the ears.....


14 replies so far

View FeralVermonter's profile

FeralVermonter

100 posts in 622 days


#1 posted 01-19-2013 04:03 PM

For a two foot span, any of these should work just fine.

View oldretiredjim's profile

oldretiredjim

181 posts in 1036 days


#2 posted 01-19-2013 04:08 PM

I use birch ply but I do reinforce 4’ spans. Too much flex. My wife is a potter and storing her stuff between shows creates issues for shelves. Like storing concrete on shelves. The oak will be much better and with some thought you can make the shelves such that the oak can be reused when the shelving inevitably becomes obsolete. It is much harder to reuse the ply.

View MJCD's profile

MJCD

452 posts in 1022 days


#3 posted 01-19-2013 04:33 PM

Depending on your design requirements, you could make the shelving from the ply, and put a 1” x 1” Oak/Maple banding on the front lip – this would had both strength and ‘substance’ to the shelf. Any 48” span needs support.
MJCD

-- Lead By Example; Make a Difference

View MonteCristo's profile

MonteCristo

2097 posts in 839 days


#4 posted 01-19-2013 08:10 PM

Most shelves that I see with sag are because the unsupported span is too long. You can go more than about 2’ by beefing things up but if you stick with short spans and shelves at least 3/4” thick you run a lot less risk of sag, even when heavier objects like books are placed on the shelves.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

5624 posts in 2079 days


#5 posted 01-19-2013 09:07 PM

MJCD has the solution. I over build and usually face both edges with 3/4 X 1 1/2” solid.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View sawedoff's profile

sawedoff

134 posts in 1071 days


#6 posted 01-19-2013 09:15 PM

MJCD and Gene,

so you guys use ply and then rip a face frame solid piece to put on the front edge of the plywood shelf? How are you fastening it? pocket screws or finish nails?

-- still wet behind the ears.....

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

5624 posts in 2079 days


#7 posted 01-19-2013 10:53 PM

I usually just use Tite Bond. Nothing has come apart yet. :-)
The bookshelves in our home have various spans up to 4’ with no supports. All over 12 years old and none have sagged and all are loaded!
It’s always been my theory that nails or screws simply replace clamps until the glue dries, anyway.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

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sawedoff

134 posts in 1071 days


#8 posted 01-19-2013 11:06 PM

Gene,

That’s with plywood? Sounds like that’s what I’m probably going to go with

-- still wet behind the ears.....

View SamuraiSaw's profile

SamuraiSaw

450 posts in 615 days


#9 posted 01-19-2013 11:06 PM

I prefer plywood. There is little strength advantage (if any) of solid over plywood. But solid does have inherent disadvantages such as warping and cupping.

I usually cut a shallow rabbett, say 1/4”, in 1 to 1 1/2” stock to add strength and mask the raw plywood edge. The rabbett provides greater glue area.

-- Artisan Woodworks of Texas.... www.awwtx.com

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

5624 posts in 2079 days


#10 posted 01-20-2013 12:21 AM

Yep, plywood. I’ve never done as SamuraiSaw suggests, but it sounds like a good method.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View MJCD's profile

MJCD

452 posts in 1022 days


#11 posted 01-20-2013 03:50 AM

Sawedoff:

I use the table saw (or Router) to create a 1/4” wide x 3/8” deep dado on the front-edge of the ply; then create a mating tongue in the edging: the 1” x 1” is the non-inset piece of the hardwood. I secure this with T2 (Titebond II). This approach is a bit more woodworking than a simple edging; however, it provides significant strength, and will not come apart.

I hope this helps.
MJCD

-- Lead By Example; Make a Difference

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

2522 posts in 1002 days


#12 posted 01-20-2013 04:42 PM

Ply is ok for 2 ft spans but I would reinforce it with edges of hardwood. It somewhat depends on what you intend the shelves to support, books are heavy, bric a brac not so much.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

3942 posts in 1031 days


#13 posted 01-20-2013 07:18 PM

http://www.woodbin.com/calcs/sagulator.htm

-- |Statistics show that 100% of people bitten by a snake were close to it.|

View sawedoff's profile

sawedoff

134 posts in 1071 days


#14 posted 01-20-2013 07:54 PM

Rick…........ Way cool. Thanks Man!

-- still wet behind the ears.....

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