Need advice on built-ins

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I wish to build a series of built-ins along a 14 foot wall. I have to incorporate 2 desks.
I've built carcasses and drawers and night stands and tables in a college night school coarse but I've always been supplied the oak/oak veneer, and I've built using their measurements and instructions.
But for my first project at home I'm confused on the type of wood I should choose. My wife wants everything white so I'm deciding between poplar, pine or MDF. Even with MDF, I'll most likely use poplar faces and router in a design.
What I want is shelf strength and the ability of the built-ins to hold a painted finish for along time but can be easy cleaned with a damp cloth. The shelves will have to hold some heavy books, and the desks will be used as homework stations.
Anyone care to share experiences on what they did, types of materials and types of joints? Costs?
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MDF would be fine for paint grade upright pieces. For Shelves, it would depend on the weight of what you are putting and the span, but with mdf you would put an edge on it, and that would strengthen it. Also you could put a lip in the back and that would really add to the strength. Otherwise sanded ply makes a good choice for this project. And yes poplar is a good choice for edging both choices.
Here is a link for calculating the shelving load. http://www.woodbin.com/calcs/sagulator.htm
Hope this helps.
On 3/8/2012 4:26 PM, Duesenberg wrote:

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On 3/8/2012 4:46 PM, tiredofspam wrote:

For MDF shelving strenght I thought about a housed/dado joint for the shelving ends i.e. 1/4" into sides. I have access to a panel saw and table saws with nice 6 foot table tops and dado blade sets.
Is this idea used with mdf? I've done it myself with vaneered wood and plywood.
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On 3/8/2012 3:26 PM, Duesenberg wrote:

Nyw of those will work but MDF is going to be quite heavy just to handle. A paint grade birch plywood might be better and you want to use a "top" quality water based paint that will cure hard or an alkid based oil based paint.
Consider also, white melamine for the in sides, NO PAINTING. Just paint your face frames.

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On 3/8/2012 6:24 PM, Leon wrote:

If I chose MDF I would have the supplier cut the pieces for me. That'll ensure they are at least square and it'll be easier for me to handle at home.
As for the melamine, I thot about using that type of shelving but my wife wants things painted a certain off-white.
unfortunately oil based paints are now illegal to sell around here so I'd invest in good primer and then good quality paint ie Aura from benny moore.
What's the cost difference between mdf and birch plywood. Cost is a factor as I'm without income (stay at home dad).
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On 3/8/2012 9:49 PM, Duesenberg wrote:

Depending upon grade, MDF will generally run you about $US10-$30/4x8 less than a top A1 Birch plywood at most places.
That said, do yourself a big favor:
... don't even consider price of your sheetgoods as a factor ...
You are not buying enough to make that big of difference in the total cost of your project; with inferior materials you may regret that decision later, and you want to protect your money and sweat equity in the future.
FWIW, my livelihood comes from both building homes (with lots of built-ins), and from cabinetmaking, and I would not normally use MDF for casework in your situation ... mainly due to its weight, and its reduced ability to hold screws and hardware over the life of the project.
IME, you would do much better with a good import, paint grade birch plywood for the cabinet casework.
For and doors and drawer fronts, go ahead and use MDF, but watch the weight should you have any large or wide doors ... in that case, simply consider using three door hinges instead of two.
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What he said.
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On 3/9/12 9:23 AM, Robatoy wrote:

What they said.
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Thought you might like to see what is possible using mdf, contrary to the general public's ideas.
http://www.twistedknotwoodshop.com/laurioffice.htm
MDF is used in more things than you can possibly imagine and there is a reason for that. It is "perfectly" flat and square, holds paint like a champ and is cheap.
Read the story about his wife's library.
He used to be quite active here several years ago.
On 3/8/2012 7:49 PM, Duesenberg wrote:

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On 3/13/2012 10:33 AM, Pat Barber wrote:

I might add to the extensive use of MDF, there is a "green" water resistant MDF that Swingman and I used on a kitchen job last year. We soaked a piece in a bird bath over night and it did not change shape or wick.
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Wow...what's that one called ???
I don't have good access to decent sheet goods and I miss out on some of the newest stuff.
Would that one called medex by any chance ?
On 3/13/2012 12:09 PM, Leon wrote:

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On 3/13/2012 2:13 PM, Pat Barber wrote:

It's a Temple-Inland MDF product called "UltraStock-MR":
http://www.templeinland.com/BuildingProducts/MDF/ultrastock-mr.asp
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On 3/13/2012 3:48 PM, Swingman wrote:

Now why did we not buy that stuff in the 61" wide or 16' lengths listed???? LOL
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"Duesenberg" wrote in message
I wish to build a series of built-ins along a 14 foot wall. I have to incorporate 2 desks.
I've built carcasses and drawers and night stands and tables in a college night school coarse but I've always been supplied the oak/oak veneer, and I've built using their measurements and instructions.
But for my first project at home I'm confused on the type of wood I should choose. My wife wants everything white so I'm deciding between poplar, pine or MDF. Even with MDF, I'll most likely use poplar faces and router in a design.
What I want is shelf strength and the ability of the built-ins to hold a painted finish for along time but can be easy cleaned with a damp cloth. The shelves will have to hold some heavy books, and the desks will be used as homework stations.
Anyone care to share experiences on what they did, types of materials and types of joints? Costs?
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Made these a few years ago https://picasaweb.google.com/116326863090696244781/Bookcases?authkey=Gv1sRgCPC8ib-atZ_RtAE#5717679621806780578
3/4" Fir plywood. Pine faces. Shelves: same plywood with pine edging.
Max
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If you're going to house your shelves in dadoes at both ends then they shelves won't be adjustable and you can also fix them to the back of the cabinet as well, which will help prevent sag I believe. I just built 3 torsion boxes for shelves that span 63.875". That's an option too. JP
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Duesenberg wrote:

Of your three proffered options, I would use poplar. Someone suggested birch ply...it would be my choice, for the cases at least.
Where I live, sheets of birch ply and MDF are about the same price...about $45 per 4' x 8' sheet.
MDF could work OK - not great but just OK - for the cases but I'd never use it for shelves that hold any weight regardless of the span. Ply isn't all that great either. The ability of a shelf to hold weight without sagging depends upon the material, the weight and the span. I like to keep shelves under 36". Longer shelves can be greatly stiffened with 1x2 verical strips under front and back. Or even centered. See here... http://www.woodbin.com/calcs/sagulator.htm
For paint, I would prefer poplar or MDF. Pine - like fir - tends to telegraph the hard/soft wood differences through the paint; not impossible to overcome but why struggle?
Since you are going to paint and have to (unfortunately) use latex, use a flat paint on the shelves as stuff will stick to glossy latex for months, maybe years. The alternative is to use gloss/semi-gloss and topcoat with a water borne poly to keep stuff from sticking. The same can be done over flat latex to match the sheen of other components and ease cleaning.
--

dadiOH
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Everyone else is wrong. I just finished personal built-ins painted white. I consulted my buddy who owns a highe-end custom cabinet shop. What he helped me buy was venere core plywood (normal plywood) that has MDF faces about 3/32 or 1/8" thick.
MDF has no strength and doesn't take screws well at all unless you sue some special (conformant) screws and they are a hassle.
This material is not super common but every good wood supplied that works with cabinet shops can get it. It has different brand names all like e-core or x-core.
A quick coat of 123 primer a quick sand, some semi-gloss white and viola!
I'll try to post pics tnite
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On Friday, March 9, 2012 12:22:19 PM UTC-5, SonomaProducts.com wrote:

consulted my buddy who owns a highe-end custom cabinet shop. What he helped me buy was venere core plywood (normal plywood) that has MDF faces about 3/32 or 1/8" thick.

Please do post pics - and I love it and totally agree. I've never worked with it, but I'm gonna start looking at it hard. Can you get it in different thicknesses - thicker than 3/4" that is? JP
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On Friday, March 9, 2012 2:03:52 PM UTC-8, JayPique wrote:

I have only seen it in 1/2 and 3/4. I think I have seen it called Pro-core. Here is the first link I could find that calls it crossband core http://www.woodstocksupply.com/plywood.html . I also think there are different grades. They have one cheaper version that is for using with laminate and it is not quite as flat and can show some banding.
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On 3/9/2012 11:22 AM, SonomaProducts.com wrote:

Yeah, right ... good luck with that concept.
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