Baltic Birch for book shelves?

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Forum topic by fiddlejake posted 03-01-2013 03:19 AM 4904 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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9 posts in 3681 days

03-01-2013 03:19 AM

I have some 3/4 inch baltic birch plywood (many plies) that I’m thinking about using for the shelves of a book case. The shelves would be about 33 inches long. Is that a good use of this plywood? This baltic birch plywood seems like it’s a lot heavier than other hardwood plywood (fewer plies). Thanks so much!

9 replies so far

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2891 days

#1 posted 03-01-2013 03:22 AM

I would put a front and back edge of hardwood as I think it will bow over that span with books on it.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Dusty56's profile


11822 posts in 3889 days

#2 posted 03-01-2013 03:42 AM

33” long x ?.... how wide / deep ? How will the shelves be supported ?

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View bondogaposis's profile


5090 posts in 2552 days

#3 posted 03-01-2013 03:43 AM

Books are heavy and 1/16” deflection is visible to the human eye. I would go w/ gfadvm’s recommendation.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View AandCstyle's profile


3179 posts in 2458 days

#4 posted 03-01-2013 03:48 AM

You should use the Sagulator to determine how much you need strengthen your shelves so they don’t visibly sag. I have found it to be a very handy tool.

-- Art

View fiddlejake's profile


9 posts in 3681 days

#5 posted 03-01-2013 04:00 AM

I’m putting a shear panel in the back and plan to screw the back of the shelves to it to minimize sag. But mostly I’m concerned about the weight of this plywood as the bookcase will be on top of a cabinet. Do I get much more strength from it compared to other hardwood plywood?


View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3486 days

#6 posted 03-01-2013 02:37 PM


The biggest difference between Baltic birch plywood and standard plywood is the number of plies. (and the price). Baltic birch plywood has a lot more which makes it a much more stable plywood for construction purposes. (Cabinetmakers will actually dovetail Baltic birch plywood for drawer boxes).

That will make an expensive bookcase, but if you already have the Baltic birch, then I guess you could say that is cheaper then going out and buying more plywood. Will it make a better bookcase? Let’s just say that 90% of all bookcases built will “not” be built with Baltic birch.

As far as the shelves go, I would still put a solid wood edging on the front of the shelves to keep from sagging. 1 1/4” or 1 1/2” face strip will serve two purposes; 1. will keep shelves from sagging 2. gives the front edge of your shelves a nice finished look (no ply showing).

As far as worried about the extra weight since it will be sitting on a cabinet, I would be just as worried as to what you plan on putting on the shelves. If it’s going to be full of books, then the little extra weight difference between one plywood to another shouldn’t be a factor.

-- John @

View MrRon's profile


5193 posts in 3444 days

#7 posted 03-02-2013 05:52 PM

I would personally save the BB for a project where the surface will be in full view. A shelf can be made from less expensive plywood. Just attach hardwood trim to the front edge. I would use 1-1/4×3/4 for added sag prevention.

View AandCstyle's profile


3179 posts in 2458 days

#8 posted 03-03-2013 01:41 AM

I recently purchased some hardwood surfaced plywood that had a layer of MDF as part of the core. IMO that will not have as much strength to avoid/minimize sagging or screw holding.

-- Art

View fiddlejake's profile


9 posts in 3681 days

#9 posted 03-03-2013 04:37 AM

Thank you all for your suggestions. I think I will buy less expensive plywood, as I plan to build projects for many years to come. I really appreciate all your ideas!

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