Reinforcing MDF Shelves With Square Metal Tubing?

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Forum topic by Wickate posted 07-21-2013 11:30 PM 1448 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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71 posts in 3031 days

07-21-2013 11:30 PM

Guys and gals, I’m trying think of ways to add some strength to shelves that I’m going to be making for a storage unit in my son’s playroom. I was able to get some sheets of 3/4” MDF at a good price and will be using it for the build. I’m concerned about the shelves of the cubes being too weak and prone to the sagging and breakage that MDF seems to be known for. I’m pretty much a novice at building anything and this will be the first bigger project I’ve done. Doing some research on my own yielded ideas of adding a hardwood strip onto the front of the boards and ensuring the backs were supported as well. Instead of adding the hardwood to the fronts, I thought of cutting a dado into the bottom of the shelves, say maybe a 1/2” wide and 1/2” deep to accommodate square aluminum or steel tubing from the BORG, et al. This way, it’s recessed into the shelf itself and can provide support. It would run from one wall to the other, transferring the load via the tubing to the walls – or at least, that’s what my inexperienced mind sees.

What’s your opinion on this solution? 1/2” deep too deep and thus weakening the board at that point? The longest span would probably be about 24”. Is it more time consuming than the hardwood on the front? More costly, yes, I think that’s a given.

Just kicking around design ideas and thought I’d ask. Any feedback is appreciated!!

2 replies so far

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2738 posts in 2814 days

#1 posted 07-21-2013 11:56 PM

You can rabbet a piece of hardwood so the mdf sits into it.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

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71 posts in 3031 days

#2 posted 07-22-2013 12:02 AM

Good point, I got to thinking that shortly after posting.

Just to bounce the idea, you’re saying maybe a piece of hardwood 1/2” or 3/8” by maybe 2” deep toward the back of the shelves that works as a piece to span the gap and provide the support?

I like that idea because it seems to combine the benefits of both using hardwood to save on cost (and I could use some of the scrap I’ve been given for free), and the idea of the metal tubing.

Thank you very much for that!

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