I'm a total novice when it comes to wood working. I'm looking to
build a large shelf inside an 'entertainment center' that was built
into my house. The dimensions I'm with here are 60" wide by 28" deep.
The front, obviously is open. If I use planks for the top, what I
can I do to prevent it from sagging?
Some ideas (you can combine some of them)
1) Use really thick planks
2) Run a cleat along the back that it can rest on
3) Build a "torsion box" - that is use fairly thin plywood for the top and
bottom surfaces and inside use some wood (say 1x2) on edge inside. This
gives a very stiff and light shelf. Depth is the key in resisting
4) Put a support in the middle - effectively cutting the span in half.
5) Use very stiff materials - like steel.
6) Fill whatever is resting on the shelf with helium.
Jack's suggestions are good ones. If you are going to put
anything even remotely heavy on the shelf, #3 would be the one to try.
If you're going to put something really heavy on the shelf, #3 is
still best but use larger lumber inside--or maybe steel.
You need to make the shelf as light as possible but as deep as possible with
as stiff a material as possible.
Make a fairly thin shelf, say about 1" thick and screw steel strips say 2" x
1/4" onto the front and back edges. Then cover this with wood, possibly the
same as the top. The key is in the depth. Without going into detail, double
the depth = 8 times the bending strength. Steel is best here as wood can
creep over time.
You may want to consider a strip of steel in the centre of the shelf as
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