Ideas for making a single top for a long series of Ikea bookcases

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I've got a set of IKEA bookcases. Each one is roughly 30H x 30W x 14D and is divided into 4 square sections. There are 4 and a half of them, the "half' being half as wide, with only two sections.
They are lined up against a wall in our family room and come within a couple of inches of taking up the whole wall, about 13'.
They are probably ten years old, and are thus somewhat better than the current crop of IKEA stuff. It's their "Beech" finish. But for the tops, which have gotten a little scratched up, they don't look too bad.
I'd like to make a top that spans the whole set. I'm thinking of using ceramic or porcelain tile with a wood 1x2 border around it. My original idea would be reasonably easy, I think. 3/4 ply with the 1x2 glued around the edge to make a "tray" that the tiles would sit in. Maybe I'd get fancy and rout out a dado in the 1x2 (oak, probably) for the edge of the ply to fit into.
I might not even bother to use thinset or grout, perhaps just laying the tiles in, or maybe using some construction adhesive. I have a tile saw, BTW. I would use large tiles that span the entire depth with one tile.
I think I'd have to build it in situ. There would have to be two lengths of ply to cover the distance, and other than the "border" and the furniture underneath, I don't know how I could fasten them together well.
But then I had another idea, a wrinkle that I can't get in my head how to accomplish. I have a bunch of prefinished IKEA kitchen molding, 3/4" thick, maybe 3" wide, straight except for a 1/4 round on one side. It matches the cabinets well. I was thinking of using that, laying flat, as the border. The benefit is that I wouldn't have to try (and fail) to match the finish.
The problem is how to attach molding that thin to some sort of base for the tiles. I'm thinking I could make a rabbet on the underside of the molding to accept 1/4" or maybe 3/8" ply and then glue it up. There'd almost certainly be a lip; the tiles wouldn't be exactly flush with the surface of the molding. This might still look OK though.
Any thoughts? I'm not a complete idiot around wood and tools, but my skills are modest, so be gentle.
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Are these book cases 1) mounted high on the wall or are they 2) on the floor, such that the top surfaces are used table-like/countertop-like, hence their being scratched?
I'm thinking, just a sheet of 1/4" or 3/8" luan, finished nicely (durable finish), would do fine, with simple molding around the edges. Any future damage can be more easily repaired or replaced. Ceramic tile, directly applied onto wood, doesn't sound like a secure/ fail-safe surface, to me.
Sonny
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They are on the floor

I was actually thinking the opposite; that a dozen plain maybe $2 each porcelain (floor) tiles would be about as teenager-proof a surface as I could imagine. Did I mention the teenager in the house? And I wouldn't have to sand and finish quite a large area of wood. I could even keep a couple of extra tiles around in case something really untoward happens. Even just gravity, coupled with a tight fit should hold them in, wouldn't you think?
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snipped-for-privacy@risky-biz.com wrote:

bisquits for alignment and glue
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I'm sure this is an excellent idea, but as I currently own a router, and not a biscuit joiner, I may go the dado route instead. As I mentioned in another post, some relatively inexpensive materials I can handle, but buying fun things like new tools is not in the program right now.
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I'm sure this is an excellent idea, but as I currently own a router, and not a biscuit joiner, I may go the dado route instead. --------------------- Think 5/32" slot cutter & #20 biscuits with that router.
Lew
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Every time I post something here I get answers to questions I didn't know enough to ask. Now I have a few more questions.
My router is hand-held. No table. Round base. Low end, if you must know. Ryobi. How would I go about lining up the slots on the mating pieces? How precise do they have to be?
Since you've suggested a $20-$30 bit I assume you think that whatever the disadvantages of using a router for this task, a really cheap biscuit joiner like this:
(Amazon.com product link shortened)
...would be even more frustrating due to general crappiness. Even to my untutored eye, that plastic "plate" looks pretty unimpressive.
Assuming sufficient care, do you think I'd be successful putting maybe 10 biscuits in a 13 foot span, getting them all to mate?
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know. Ryobi. How would I go about lining up the slots on the mating pieces? How precise do they have to be? ----------------------- Piece of cake, simply set router to depth and lock it.
(Amazon.com product link shortened)85987808&sr=1-10
Good luck.

------------------- See above.
Lew
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Not to pester, but I meant lining them up laterally. I'd love to be able to use biscuits without having to buy what for me would be a seldom-used tool.
I haven't used a biscuit joiner, but I assume there's a straight "fence" on it with a mark that marks the center of the biscuit. With a round router base and a cutter that will be a good 2" behind the edge of the base, how do you go about lining up the slots on the two mating pieces?
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On 10/1/10 10:43 PM, snipped-for-privacy@risky-biz.com wrote:

You can do the same thing on the router by marking the boards and the router fence. It might be easier to mount the router in a table. Keep in mind that the holes don't have to line up perfectly and can be longer than the biscuit. Biscuits are really for up and down alignment, not side to side.
In any case, a google search turns up a lot of info.
--

-MIKE-

"Playing is not something I do at night, it's my function in life"
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Ah. Now I see. This is a very interesting development. I made a "temporary" desktop... six or seven years ago... that I've been thinking of dressing up with a hardwood edge. One cheap trip to HD and I could be using biscuits to attach it. Thanks.
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For a number of years, I've used an invisable nailing kit for attaching trim and face frames. http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/page.aspx?p2683&cat=1,230,41182
Alternatively, I've just hammered in a finishing nail, countersunk it and then filled the hole with a wax filler stick fractionally darker than the wood itself. It results in a hard to recognize attachment point and is about as easy to use as it gets. http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/page.aspx?p 069&cat=1,190,42997
There's always alternative ways to attach things.
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And I thought that was a plane for elves. Go figure.

Sure. That method I've used already. Plus the "just glue and a crapload of clamps and hope what the high school shop teacher said about glue was true" method. But this "biscuits without paying for the special tool" idea appeals to me.
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Then you shouldn't have too much trouble. All you need do is find someone like me, or Leon, or a number of others who have bought that 'extra special tool' like the Domino and buy our biscuit joiner from us. I'll sell you mine for $50 and toss in a box of 2000 various sized biscuits. :)
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On 10/2/10 6:46 AM, snipped-for-privacy@risky-biz.com wrote:

I don't know if this pertains to your current thought process or not, but as has been discussed in here on several occasions, biscuits are intended for alignment and don't add any discernible strength to most joints.
--

-MIKE-

"Playing is not something I do at night, it's my function in life"
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On 10/2/10 6:14 AM, Upscale wrote:

Wow. This is why usenet still has some value to me. I've tucked away that little trick in my brain for future use.
..... and like most things in that catalog, you don't really need that little plane to do it.
--

-MIKE-

"Playing is not something I do at night, it's my function in life"
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The LeeValley catalogue is often inspirational. "Shiat!, *I* can do that!" Many will just order the tool. Good on Robin when they do.
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able to use biscuits without having to buy what for me would be a seldom-used tool.
I haven't used a biscuit joiner, but I assume there's a straight "fence" on it with a mark that marks the center of the biscuit. With a round router base and a cutter that will be a good 2" behind the edge of the base, how do you go about lining up the slots on the two mating pieces? --------------------------- A pencil and a tape measure.
A slot cutter has a pilot bearing so depth of court is controlled.
Height is controlled by router setting. All that is left is spacing controlled by pencil and a tape measure.
Lew
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On Fri, 1 Oct 2010 20:07:52 -0700 (PDT), " snipped-for-privacy@risky-biz.com"

With the edge guide, and they have to be fairly precise. Here's a pic of a router with a guide installed: http://fwd4.me/h6J You could use it to do a dado groove.

I have a Harbor Fright bisquicker. It works well as long as I keep the trigger pulled. If not, it widens the slot. I picked it up for $30 on sale. I removed one of the too-tight springs and it works much more smoothly now. I'd respring it and find and install a plate shim if I used it more often. It's probably very similar to the Homier model. http://www.harborfreight.com/4-inch-plate-joiner-38437.html

You should have no problem, G.
-- Know how to listen, and you will profit even from those who talk badly. -- Plutarch
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On Fri, 1 Oct 2010 19:10:51 -0700, "Lew Hodgett"

A router can be used for biscuits - or better yet, a spline. Plywood or tempered hardboard as a spline both work quite well.
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