Built-in bookshelves - wood suggestions needed

I am getting ready to build some built-in bookcases in one of my bedrooms. I was going to use purpleheart, which would go well with the green paint, but I can't seem to find purpleheart that is not random width (and smooth finish on all sides). So I need to find another type of wood as a replacement. I wanted something different, instead of the standard red oak or walnut. I was thinking mahogany, but that may be a bit too dark. I prefer a medium to medium-dark tone. Any suggestions?
Thanks!
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I suspect you are going to want to use hardwood plywood instead of all solid woood for a bookshelf. While it sounds great to have a solid wood bookshelf, the cost and the weight would be out of sight.
Consider cherry plywood or even walnut, both of which are expensive but a great deal cheaper than their hardwood replacements. Both can be had for $100 per sheet. Mahogany is also available in plywood but the price goes up for that.
Thes folks have a WIDE selection of plywoods...
http://boulterplywood.com /
Be prepared to pay but they have the good stuff.
swinter wrote:

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I've heard the weight thing given before as a reason to use plywood, but my research (ok, two different websites) indicates that something like walnut has a density of ~610kg/cubic meter, and plywood has an approximate weight of 75lbs per 3/4" sheet. Doing some very rough math indicates that the plywood weighs about 596kg/cubic meter.
So the weight thing shouldn't really be a factor, no? Unless you have to use thicker solid wood instead of plywood?
Now cost, that's a whole nuther story...
Clint

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Is that the general opinion when building built-in bookcases? Use vaneered plywood for the structure, then, I'm guessing, use the solid wood for the face trim pieces.
I was really hoping to use solid wood to construct the shelves - there is just something about plywood that really rubs me the wrong way. It seems like cheating. If I could just find good, high quality purpleheart, I'd use that. The place near me carries it for $4.98/board ft, which is cheaper than the $5.95/board ft for the purpleheart plywood at Boulter Plywood. Of course, it would be random widths, so it's of no real help to me.
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What is wrong with random widths? If you don't have the right width, build it.
Also, are you aware that purpleheart will go brown?
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UV finish is applied. Even if it does turn a bit brown, then it will be brown - just like all the other wood out there.
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True, but I'd wonder how long the UV finsh would protect it.

In which case, why not just use some of the other wood.

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As far as the width issue, if I am building a 12" (or 11-1/2") deep shelf unit, and I get a lot of 8" wide pieces, or a lot of 5" wide pieces, then there is a lot of extra cutting, and waste wood. And if the wood isn't smooth finished on all sides, then I have a lot of sanding to do.
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Then you build a nice stash for smaller projects later on.

Or planing, which is faster, easier, and less messy.

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If you want speed/convience of assembling and minimal waste, then plywood is the way to go.
I make the face frame out of solid wood, and glue a piece of solid wood to the exposed side of the shelves.
You could make the entire thing out of solid wood, but it's going to be VERY much more labor intensive. Also, consider that once books are on the shelves, most of the wood is going to be covered up anyhow :)
You aren't going to find any wood (other than pine) not solid in random widths (as far as I know).. or if you do find it, you'll be charged a premium.
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One other question. If the bookshelves are for books, why should they be 12". Most of my books are significantly narrower than 12". Many are around 9" and the ton of paperbacks I have do nicely on a 5" shelf. Have you given thought to making a double shelf (the front one sliding) to fit more books into a given wall space?

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You can afford enough purpleheart to make a built-in bookcase, but not a planer? Aut inveniam viam aut faciam
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I'll be doing a 16' wall in my den as bookshelves this summer and will use a veneered plywood, probably maple, and solid for the trim. I want to keep the cost down and have some bucks left so I can complete it in a Nautical motif. I can't justify the cost of expensive solid wood that is completely covered by books so one can't see it. Thats uncivilized! :-) Grandpa John
swinter wrote:

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There isn't anything wrong with using solid wood for shelves. The problem is "most" bookcases are at "least" 11 3/4" deep and that's goona be a pain in the wazoo to glue up a bunch of shelves. I assume you will "never" find enough 12" solid stock to make the shelves from.
You will be very hard pressed to find a solid wood bookcase anywhere.
That's the major reason most bookcases are built using plywood. It's your project and your money, so feel free to do it any way you wish.
If you go the solid wood route, please post some pictures for us to see over at A.B.P.W.
swinter wrote:

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And on top of that, who cares what a book shelf weighs? Unless you are the type that moves every couple of months, I would think that a heavy bookshelf would be preferable. And, you were talking about a built in. So, who cares what it weighs?
Joe in Denver my woodworking website: http://www.the-wildings.com/shop /

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cherry takes stain pretty well. try minway antique barnwood stain.
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Ash would look really nice with green piant as well, and has a nice mix of light and dark highlights with good strong character.

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