shaving plywood edge


I made a newbie mistake. I'm building a "built-in" set of shelves out of birch plywood -resting them on cleats nailed to the wall. The shelves are going in a little aclove and are spanning the entire distance. Unfortunately when I measured the space for the shelves I measured the space along the wall where the back of the shelves would be. However, now that we are installing the finished and urethaned shelves I notice that the walls aren't entirely straight and the front of the shelf is just a little to big to fit in nicely - maybe less than 1/8" too big.
What's the best way to shave down the edge of the plywood to make it fit? The urethane is (mostly) not on the sides -just the top and bottom. Should I use a file, finish sander with low grit, hand plane or something else? I've got 5 shelves to do this to.
BTW, no tablesaw - I built these using only a circular saw and router, so no fancy TS solutions please.
Thanks!
-Bob
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Scribe the shelve against the wall and use a belt sander to remove the extra material.
Dave
snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Rats. I was gonna suggest "Hold your tablesaw up against the wall..."
I'd shave the edge down with my router or a handplane. Clamp a straightedge to the shelving so the router takes off only 1/8 inch.
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Why use a straight edge when he said the wall is uneven? He needs to sand to a scribed line, wouldn't you think?
Dave
Brian Siano wrote:

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But tricky to scribe to a line if it won't fit (have to hold at an angle, I guess; less than ideal).
I'd guess that the walls are relatively straight, just not perfectly square.
OP: if you go with a cutting approach rather than sanding, know that the glue in the plywood will do a number on your blade, so be ready to sharpen or toss the edge used. How about your circ saw with a clamped straight-edge guide for the left side of the saw (assuming blade on the right).
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The workpiece NEVER "fits" when scribed. That's the whole point of scribing--to MAKE it fit to the wall.
Dave alexy wrote:

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I don't think there's a need to scribe - this is my first project and its going into a closet that only my wife and I will see. The walls aren't THAT wavy, and most of all I'm not working to those kind of tolerances that I can follow a scribed line that is not straight. My skills aren't there yet. I just need to shave off a straight line and that's good enough.
I don't have a belt sander, but I've got a 1/4 sheet finish sander - would that have enough power to do it? Wouldn't it just pull the plywood apart at the edge?
Would either a sander or circular saw mess up the urethane finish just next to the cut line?
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If you use a circular saw, tape the good surface with 3m blue tape and cut from the bottom side (remember: good side up on a table saw; bottom side up when using a circular saw). A sander wouldn't mess up the top if you handle it well.
Dave
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less opportunity to screw up.
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

More accurate answer: "Yes, if you have enough time" (But that answer word for rubbing with talc as well <g>)

you can measure it accurately enough, use a knife to scribe a deep line defining the cut on the topside, which should minimize any tearing up of the top (which will be on the bottom when you cut).
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Thanks for all the suggestions. I think I'll try the circular saw.
I've got 5 shelves so I actually might try a couple of different ways - I figure this is a first project and should be a learning experience, provided I don't make it look bad. Sounds like keeping the finish in good condition is doable with some care - which was my main concern. Thanks!
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Normally, to scribe the right end, you would hold the piece in exactly the position where it will go, but shifted, e.g. 1/2" to the left, and scribe off of the right wall. But he can't do that if the board won't fit in the alcove. He will have to hold it at an angle, which will throw the scribing off, although not enough to make a difference, and be a PITA.
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Doesn't matter now. He isn't gonna scribe it.
Dave
alexy wrote:

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For an 1/8" or so with least damage to finish my choice would be the router with straight bit & a straight edge to guide it. For less than 1 1/16, a decent low-angle block plane with a sharp blade would probably be OK too. (Did I mention a sharp blade)
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I had a similar problem. I cut the 1/4 cabinet backs about an 1/8 too wide. I needed to shave exactly an 1/8 inch off. So, I went to the router table and put two 1/8 inch washers behind the fence face on the "outfeed side" to make the two fence faces 1/8 inch different. I lined a straight router bit up with the outfeed side and ran the plywood through. Worked perfectly. Nice clean cuts.
Dave
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On 8 Jun 2005 07:34:39 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

A little alcove? Only 5 shelves? Cheap plywood [not walnut]? Recut them, and use the original for another project, scrap, or firewood.
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

A. Scribe the board directly. If you can't, measure the angle with a bevel and transfer to board.
B. Use belt sander or router to cut off excess. With a router, clamp a straight edge parallel to your scribed line.
C. Fact of life...walls are *never* perpendicular or parallel to each other. Not nowadays.
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Just as a follow-up, I tried something not suggested here and it seems to have worked pretty well. I bought a little drum-sander bit that is for a Dremel tool and put it in my RotoZip. It buzzed down the edge of the plywood very nicely and made it very easy to "tune" the plywood to the wall.
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