Building a bookshelf...Wood species Suggestions?

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I am fairly new to woodworking. I have completed three projects, a bookshelf, some shelves and a birdhouse. Aside from the birdhouse, I have primarily buit with Red Oak/Oak and have applied stain to complete the project. SWMBO has asked that I build a bookshelf for my daughter (7 yrs old). SWMBO would like to paint the bookshelf instead of staining. I am assuming it is a sin to paint oak so I thought I would buy a cheaper species of wood that will provide a smooth surface for painting. Since I don't have a planer/joiner I have been purchasing wood from the Home Depot.
What are your opinions on the type of wood I should build this project with? I planned on building the carcus/shelves out of birch plywood, and the face frame and top with Pine lumber. Is this a reasonable plan? Any other suggestions on wood choices? Is birch/pine too soft for a kid's bookcase?
Thanks
Clemey
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Clemey wrote:

Poplar. Shelves too.

Birch isn't soft
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Pine will be just fine. HD sell some glued up wide stock that may even be cheaper than pine boards if you need a wide shelf.
I forget where it is, but if you do a Google search for SAGULATOR you will find a little program that will allow you to predict how much a shelf will sag under weight.
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http://www.woodbin.com/calcs/sagulator.htm
If you put 5000 lbs on a 30" x 12" x .5" l.d. MDF shelf, it deflects 70.33". I never knew the stuff was so stretchy. :-P
BTW, I didn't see poplar listed.
--

Jerry



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Jerry S. notes:

If you put 5000 lbs on a 30" x 12" x .5" l.d. MDF shelf, it deflects 70.33". I never knew the stuff was so stretchy. :-P
BTW, I didn't see poplar listed. <<
Right at the end, yellow poplar. I'd guess that aspen is roughly similar, as is southern magnolia.
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Clemey asks:

staining. I am assuming it is a sin to paint oak so I thought I would buy a cheaper species of wood that will provide a smooth surface for painting. Since I don't have a planer/joiner I have been purchasing wood from the Home Depot.
What are your opinions on the type of wood I should build this project with? I planned on building the carcus/shelves out of birch plywood, and the face frame and top with Pine lumber. Is this a reasonable plan? Any other suggestions on wood choices? Is birch/pine too soft for a kid's bookcase? <<
Hardwoods are way too costly at HD and Lowe's so that's a good reason to avoid painting them--they are usually significantly more costly than pine in other places, too, so painting oak is a waste more than a sin.
Poplar works nicely for bookcases, but is expensive at big box stores. I recall someone I know buying some of their glued up pine boards--Lowe's or HD, I don't recall which--and liking the results.
Unless your kid is going to take a hammer to the shelves, pine is plenty hard. Keep actual shelf width under 30" to 32" for nominal 1" (4/4, actual 3/4") stock and you should be okay. That is, you can make the bookcase as wide as you wish, but the ends of each shelf must be supported at the above intervals or closer. I might prefer 28", even, if the kid is a climber. And that brings up a point: make sure you secure the bookshelf to the wall!
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Thanks to all who replied. That helps a lot. I have been lurking for about 6+ months and have been learning a lot. Thanks to all who post good questions and for those who take the time to answer...
Clemey
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I'd still go with the poplar (pay the $). Finish-quality pines dent if you look at 'em the wrong way.
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wrote:

Should work fine. You might price maple ply while you are pricing the birch. We just did a house with painted woodwork and much to my surprise, 3/4 maple vc was about 6 bucks a sheet cheaper than 3/4 vc birch. It will paint fine.

I agree with everyone that poplar might be preferable to pine as it's a little harder. If you can get it in the sizes you need the price might surprise you too. Here poplar is about the same price as clear pine. A lesser grade of pine should save you money though. Your mileage may vary.
Mike O.
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Clemey wrote:

I think what needs to be clarified by what you mean by "too soft". Pine dents easily and sags under weight fairly badly. Whether this is acceptable or not depends -- of course -- on your requirements. Assuming the kid uses the shelf and acts like most kids, a book case made of pine will end up beaten and battered. If you are the kind of person who likes a pristine house, this probably won't make you happy. If you like stuff "lived in", it might not bother you at all. If you want it to be an heirloom and keep looking new pine is a bad idea. If your going to toss in in 2 years, it would be a shame to waste heirloom wood on it.
Bottom line: Pine will work, pine is cheap, the end result will end up dented and will sag a fair bit under load (though I am assuming a 7 yr old doesn't have a large collection of heavy books). Otherwise, whatever is the cheapest hardwood in you area is a good choice; for example, around here popular often is more expensive then red oak, so it varies.
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Short of building the thing out of cast iron, is there any material which will stand up to a 7 year old kid?
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Roy Smith wrote:

Well, he'd have to work pretty hard at destroying one of the ironwoods.
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Roy Smith wrote:

Concrete.
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Hah! Not bloody likely.
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On Sat, 19 Mar 2005 17:37:30 -0500, the inscrutable Silvan

Not with dad's hammers within reach.
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I've heard that Textron lets little kids play on tanks. If the tank survives, the Army writes an order.
Barry
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Roy Smith wrote:

No and the cast iron is doubtful also. :-) Solid oak is good, assume some dents. BTW pine won't sag if you keep support within 36 inches/
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I was looking for a reason to use the sagulator. According to it, White Oak and Eastern White Pine only differ by .04" in their sag over a 3 foot span with an 8" board. Less than I thought the difference would be. Not that I'm trying to make a case for using pine! I was just surprised at how close the numbers actually came out.
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3/4" Birch veneered plywood (aka Baltic Birch) or "Apple Ply" with maple carcass (or face frame). Join the facef rame with biscuits. Dadao out the plywood sides for the shelves.
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I've built a lot of stuff for kids & if they're going to beat it up, they will. Personally, I usually build book shelves out of pine if I'm going to paint them. I like 1x10's as the 9 1/4" width will take most books & often leaves some 'junk' room in front. Take a good look at your kid's books - their kind can vary in size a lot more than most.
As for sagging, 30" or less is OK unsupported, also happens to fit in with other furniture widths pretty well - kind of a standard width. Much longer & it can look a little weird - your call, of course. You can also pick up support from the backing or put vertical blocks in. Vertical blocks the same width as the shelf are actually very nice to have. Breaks up the long shelf & can allow for neater storage. Too many isn't a good idea, though. You wind up with pigeon holes.
Sagging immediately with books isn't your main concern. It's what happens after a few years of humid summers or when the kid is sick & the humidfier gets set next to it - at least, that's my experience. We had a cheap bookcase of particle board that got ruined when the humidifier got kicked in the middle of the night & turned on it. The edging & plastic veneer weren't enough to save it or some of the books. I have some other particle board shelves that over the past 5 or 6 years have deflected a 1/4" or so over 28". Looks like crap, but they were free - worth a more than I paid for them.
Jim
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