Bookcase edging question


I need to finish off the edges on some bookcases. Does anyone have some suggestions? (Here's the kicker, there's close to 2000' of edging to do. Some of you may recall that back in November I was asking for advice about building 50 bookcases for my soon to open bookstore. Now I am starting to think about how to finish the edging.) I'm not sure about the glue on laminate. How does it hold up over time? Any problems, are notes to think about? I thought about cutting thin strips of hardwood, but then there are questions about cutting that much hardwood and then glueing all of that hardwood onto all of those case and shelves. I don't have anywhere near enough clamps. :) And I don't think brads would look too good on all the shelves. My wife came up with a different idea.... She wants me to use a round-over router bit to round all the edges on the plywood, and then just stain it like that. She thinks it looks neat with the different layers showing up in different shades. I'm not keen on that idea, but I said that I would consider it. (The plywood is really quite a good grade, there are almost no gaps in the plywood along the edge that would need filling.) Any other suggestions or comments would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Sean.
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Veneer stripping (iron on or glue on) comes in rolls. Depending on the time you have at hand, you can do it manually or purchase a lower end edge banding machine to do it. They're not as expensive as some might think. The following link gives some hand tools that are useful with veneer stripping. http://www.refinishfurniture.com/kitchen_cabinet_refacing_tools.htm

I've used it frequently. Some don't like it, but I've never had any problems with it coming off if it's applied properly. Of course, books slid off a shelf on a repeated basis might case more friction and wear than what I'd normally apply to one of my edging projects.

For what you have to do, I think this would be the fastest method if you have the tools. A tablesaw, a router and a slot cutting bit are all that's needed. The tablesaw cuts the strips of hardwood, the router and slot cutting bit to cut the plywood edge and the hard wood strip edge. Then all you need is a simple spline to join the two. It's a very strong attachment method. Clamping would only be necessary every few feet and need only be clamped ten minutes at a time. If you organized it properly, the clamps would be moved along in a production process.
There are other router bits that are designed for edging, one part is convex, one part is concave. Also works out well if it's done properly, but not as strong or as easy as the spline method in my opinion. http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=1&pP698&cat=1,46168,46174

I've applied hardwood strips and used a blind nailer to attach them. This is something I've used frequently and have been very satisfied with it. http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=1&p2683&cat=1,41182
With a little bit of practice, the points where the nails are inserted are virtually invisible. When I get up to speed, I can attach about 10' per 10 minutes. Of course, the 2000' that you have works out to over 33 hours at best speed. Not something I'd want to do unless I was working on really fine furniture for my own use and presentation.

To be honest, I think it looks a little cheap. What might be normally be taken as a nice looking hardwood shelf will instantly be recognized as plywood.
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Thanks for all the suggestions! And the links too. I like your suggestions about using the slot cutting router bit. I think that's likely the way to go. I had seen some ads for the curved bits you mentioned, but I wasn't that keen on them. It seems just a little too much for a simple joint. A slot cutter is simple, yet extremely practical. I have never heard of that blind nailer before. I think that might be an excellent idea for a smaller scale project, but it would be too finicky for such a large scale project. I think I will stick with assembly line clamps for an hour or two, then move them onto a new piece. I agree with you about the look of the un-edged plywood, I just wanted a second opinion for my wife... :) Thanks for all the suggestions! Sean.
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depending. Personally, I don't think a brad's head is that noticable depending on the edgeband you use. I'm not sure I'd use hardwood to do it - I'd try to match whatever the plywood is. You may be able to buy screen beading in the correct species. That comes either beaded or flat. The beaded kind certainly won't show a few brad heads much.
Jim
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What is screen beading? I have not heard of it before? Thanks, Sean

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Sean, screen beading is just another standard molding. It's made for finishing wooden screens such as windows & doors. There was screen stock, which had a notch & groove in it. You'd make the screen frame with that. Install the screen & then put the screen stock in on top of the screen to hide where the screen attached. It's 3/4" wide by 1/4" thick, I think. The profile is either flat with a slight round over or there is a beaded variety that has 3 beads on the face. I think most molding head cutters come with a cutter to make the beaded variety, so that would be another option - make your own in whatever species you want.
Jim
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Sean,
I've seen problems with laminate where it protrudes a tiny bit above the level of the shelf, and books or other objects sliding off the shelf catch it and pull it away or crack it.
I'd tend to go with wood, use brads, set them and putty the hole after finishing. Most people are looking at the books after all. Shouldn't need much for clamping then. Or you could clamp for 3 hours then reuse the clamps.
Or, better yet, here's an excuse to improve your clamp collection!!!
To avoid having to do a lot of surface matching, I'd make the edge wider than the board is, then carefully align the top surface and let the bottom surface of the edge extend by 1/8" or so (so it looks planned) below the bottom of the shelf.
Has it taken from November to now to build the bookcases? You are a devoted father!
Walt C

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I like your idea about having it extend about 1/8" of an inch below the bottom of the shelves to reduce my workload. That saves quite a bit of work. It still leaves the sides and top of the cases, but that is a much smaller job. I am just in the middle of building them right now. It's taken since november to: - Move to a new house 5 hours away & unpack - tear down walls and put up new walls in the place where my store will be. - paint walls and ceiling - (2 coats x 2500 sq feet ceiling and 2 coats of 2500 sq feet of wall space = over 10,000 sq feet of painting. I lost track of how much paint after the first 30 gallons.) - lay 2500 sq feet of laminate flooring - build cabinets for the display and check out counters. - and the list goes on, and on, and on... :) My wife and I have been doing 95% of the work ourselves, but the crunch is coming. We are opening in 46 days and still have a ton of stuff to do. Thanks for the suggestions. Sean

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Hi Sean,
Was wondering how your project was going.
I just completed some shelf edging with oak strips. First, I ran the router with a round-over bit over a wide oak board, then sliced off 1/4 inch of that rounded edge to produce a strip. Repeated that process over & over producing enough edging - goes very quickly.
To attach the edging, I simply used glue and a 23 ga pin nailer which is almost invisble. You may not have any visible holes to fill or if you do, they will be very tiny - much smaller than a brad nailer.
Works real well.
Lou

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Sean says...

For edging you can use tape instead of clamps.
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That's a lot of edging. I would apply a hardwood edge (wider than the shelf thickness) with a rabbet for added strength. With the weight of books, the rabbet will add stength and reduce sag. Apply woodworkers glue and use a nail gun. The small holes are not so bad looking but you can fill them if desired. Rounding a ply edge won't look too good.
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I don't know how long the shelves are, or how thick, but you may want to use some 1.5" or 2" hardwood 3/4" thick to both hide the plywood edge and stiffen the shelf.
Do some googling, but I think you'll find a 3/4" plywood shelf loaded with books will sag badly if it's any reasonable length at all (like 18").
-j
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Thanks for the suggestion. I am putting a stiffening board on the back of the shelves already. Thanks, Sean

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