Plywood vs. hardwood for walnut bookcases

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"Ted Drain" wrote in message

First, buy a good cutlist program. Design/draw one bookshelf, enter the parts and let the program optimize the cuts. Tweak your design to cut down on waste.
If standalone bookshelves, I personally would design them using walnut plywood (3/4" for the sides, 1/4" for the backs) and solid walnut face frames. The face frames, besides adding strength, give a well designed piece the look of being solid wood.
Use a 3/4" AB grade ply for the shelves. Make the center shelf part the carcass, with face frame rail, for added strength ... remaining shelves adjustable.
Use a 3/8" walnut edge banding on the adjustable shelves (if you buy S2S walnut you will probably have enough scraps to do this), they will add a bit of stiffness for your 30" span, which may be bordering on a bit too much of a span with heavy books..
MDF, IMO is too damn heavy for bookcases unless they are built in and are going to be painted.
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www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 12/18/03
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Ted:
I am in the process of building 120 linear feet of bookshelves for my library. With a total of 8 shelves (including the bottom and top shelf) that comes to about 960' of 10" boards. The cost to do it all in Walnut would have been a second on the house so I have been using 3/4" Maple plywood I bought at Home Depot for $29.00 a sheet on sale. I get 4 8' shelves out of it and the remaining piece I use for a 2' kicker at the bottom and a 4' piece for the top facing from the top of the top shelf to the ceiling with a 1 1/2" trim piece on top of it.
The average span per shelf is about 41" and supports the books well. If, in the future they do sag I will add support strips. I ripped 1/4" thick facing from solid Maple planks. It looks good but the staining was difficult as there is a slight difference in color. Hard to see unless you you are right in front of it.
I will post some pictures on our site at www.librarydesigns.com in a week or so for viewing.
Scott www.librarydesigns.com
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