LumberJocks

Using Birch Ply for a bookcase face frame?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Designing Woodworking Projects forum

Forum topic by Roux posted 12-03-2014 01:41 AM 1444 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Roux's profile

Roux

3 posts in 841 days


12-03-2014 01:41 AM

I’m designing a bookcase, based loosely off of Norm Abrams’s classic New Yankee episode 108.

I’m using Baltic Birch Plywood, and have purchased two sheets, even though the project could squeak by with one.

In the New Yankee episode, Norm uses pine for his face frame and nosing. I have learned that using a hard wood for nosing would better support the shelves, and further reduce the possibility of sagging under heavy load. Additionally, the pine at my local home store is pretty ugly stuff, and would take a lot of love to look decent.

I am intending to paint this project, not stain.

Is there a good reason for me to not use the trim from my second sheet of Birch Ply to make the face frame and nosing? I have never worked with the stuff before, but the mighty internet tells me that even its edges can be sanded fairly smooth. If I could get it smooth, and paint it, I could avoid buying 8 board feet of hardwood.

I don’t want to cheap out and regret it, but if I’m painting this thing anyway, what harm is there?


16 replies so far

View InstantSiv's profile

InstantSiv

259 posts in 1055 days


#1 posted 12-03-2014 02:55 AM

You will see the layers if you paint.

I haven’t tried this but a friend told me that he puts glue on the edges and sands after it dries to get a smooth look.

Might be something to try.

Also if you’re going to pocket hole the face frame the screws can sometimes separate the layers so predrill so that doesn’t happen.

View Roux's profile

Roux

3 posts in 841 days


#2 posted 12-08-2014 12:36 AM

Just wanted to say thank you, that was great advice. I’ve been experimenting with the glue edge technique before getting into the meat of this project… It’s about “80% perfect” for me so far, which is much better than the “30% decent” look I got off of just painting the edge.

View firefighterontheside's profile

firefighterontheside

13443 posts in 1316 days


#3 posted 12-08-2014 12:39 AM

You can mix the glue with water, say 50% and then paint it on the edges. This works for MDF as well.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

3926 posts in 2703 days


#4 posted 12-10-2014 05:02 PM

I would get some Poplar for the face frame and nosing from the big box store. It is pretty inexpensive and takes paint well. Save the other sheet of BB for another project.

View BinghamtonEd's profile

BinghamtonEd

2281 posts in 1829 days


#5 posted 12-10-2014 05:11 PM

I agree with Mr Ron, save the ply. You’re not saving anything in the long run, as on a future project you’ll be looking for ply and not have it, and buy more.

If you do use the ply, the iron-on edge banding is easy to apply and takes paint well, and is sold at the big box stores. I find it’s easiest to cut the parts to size, then apply the banding on show surfaces, and then cut any joinery, like rabbets or dados, then assemble. Trying to apply it afterwards is just more work and often not as nice-looking. No special tools needed except an iron, also a block plane makes trimming to size a breeze.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View ChefHDAN's profile

ChefHDAN

805 posts in 2309 days


#6 posted 12-10-2014 05:14 PM

+1 for Ed & Ron
I’ve done several projects with ply and often find myself realizing that the work to cover the edges takes more time and work than just using solids, where it’s usually only endgrain cover that has to be planned out

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View Waldo88's profile

Waldo88

188 posts in 756 days


#7 posted 12-10-2014 06:43 PM

Why paint the BB ply? The even ply pattern looks good and works for a lot of applications without hiding it. A lot of modern furniture makes use of this fact.

If you are going to paint it and hide it, why spend the money on BB ply, just get some run of the mill cabinet grade stuff instead.

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

115201 posts in 3037 days


#8 posted 12-10-2014 06:48 PM

I agree with those who say just use Pine ,birch or Poplar for the face frame,instead of plywood.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

5764 posts in 946 days


#9 posted 12-10-2014 06:49 PM

You could edge band it. I’ve done it. Also used glue and fine sawdust sanded after dry.

I’m prob wouldn’t cut into a fresh sheet, but Id use scraps all day.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View ADHDan's profile

ADHDan

800 posts in 1568 days


#10 posted 12-10-2014 07:43 PM

I think it just comes down to whether you have more time or money (or hardwood scrap). I think it all the prep work required to use ply for a face frame would be too much of a headache compared to using a cheap hardwood. I’d also be concerned about plywood splitting or shifting more during a pocket screw assembly due to the ply layers, and if the cabinet is likely to take a little abuse I believe ply (as well as poplar and pine) will dent more easily than something like oak or birch.

There’s a lumberyard in my area (Twin Cities) that sometimes puts out big bundles of 1×2 offcut hardwood strips for $10 specifically for face framing. It might be worth checking around for something similar in your neck of the woods.

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

View MT_Stringer's profile

MT_Stringer

2850 posts in 2691 days


#11 posted 12-10-2014 07:46 PM


I would get some Poplar for the face frame and nosing from the big box store. It is pretty inexpensive and takes paint well. Save the other sheet of BB for another project.

- MrRon

+1 What Ron said.

The end result would look something like this.

Or this.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View Waldo88's profile

Waldo88

188 posts in 756 days


#12 posted 12-10-2014 07:50 PM



I think it just comes down to whether you have more time or money (or hardwood scrap). I think it all the prep work required to use ply for a face frame would be too much of a headache compared to using a cheap hardwood. I d also be concerned about plywood splitting or shifting more during a pocket screw assembly due to the ply layers, and if the cabinet is likely to take a little abuse I believe ply (as well as poplar and pine) will dent more easily than something like oak or birch.

There s a lumberyard in my area (Twin Cities) that sometimes puts out big bundles of 1×2 offcut hardwood strips for $10 specifically for face framing. It might be worth checking around for something similar in your neck of the woods.

- ADHDan

Baltic birch plywood and plywood in general are very different things….

Glued up baltic birch strips makes a fine cutting board (BB ply glue is waterproof). Birch is every bit as hard as oak and ash, and harder than walnut, cherry, and soft maple.

View Rayne's profile

Rayne

470 posts in 999 days


#13 posted 12-10-2014 07:51 PM

+1 to TheFridge. I made a media cabinet and entertainment center out of plywood and just used edge-banding. The stuff is awesome as long as you make sure you get the correct species. Both of my projects are stained with poly coat on top. Photo shows before the glass going in.

View ADHDan's profile

ADHDan

800 posts in 1568 days


#14 posted 12-10-2014 08:22 PM

Baltic birch plywood and plywood in general are very different things….

Glued up baltic birch strips makes a fine cutting board (BB ply glue is waterproof). Birch is every bit as hard as oak and ash, and harder than walnut, cherry, and soft maple.

- Waldo88

Yes, yes it is. That’s why I suggested he use birch or oak for a face frame if it’s going to take abuse.

Or were you saying that BB plywood would not dent as easily and thus would be fine for a face frame? That may well be; I don’t know.

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

115201 posts in 3037 days


#15 posted 12-10-2014 08:31 PM

Excuse the difference of opinion, but oak is not really a good choice if your going to paint the face frame ,most shops including mine use Poplar for paint grade jobs,it’s inexpensive,durable and takes paint very well.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

showing 1 through 15 of 16 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com