Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 19

Thread: Advice for exposed sides of bookcase

  1. #1

    Advice for exposed sides of bookcase

    Newbie woodworker here seeking some advice.
    Iím looking for advice on how to design a large bookcase that I would like to build. The bookcase will be made of 4 units each one about 31Ē wide 8 ft tall, and about 12Ē deep. I plan on connecting the units after they are built in a way that they can be detached if needed, but while attached they will be one big bookcase. Where I live (out of the USA) in general the best plywood available is birch, and there is no such thing as oak plywood or any other kind (besides what I will describe later). I donít plan on building the whole bookcase from hardwood since it would be quite expensive. I also donít have a jointer or thickness planer which is another reason to go with plywood. Although, for the lower part of the bookcase I do plan to make raised panel doors with hardwood, and will have to get it jointed and planed from my supplier. I also plan to make a hardwood face frame and edge band the shelves with hardwood (probably oak).
    My problem is how do I finish the exposed sides of the bookcase (the outer side of each end unit). I donít mind staining the plywood shelves and inside walls even if it wonít match the hardwood perfectly, but I want a better solution for the exposed sides. All the local veneer is very expensive and also thin (about 0.4 max 0.6mm) and not really meant to be sanded and stained.
    Iím thinking one of 3 options. There is one place where I can get a sheet of plywood with 4mm hardwood on each side but it costs about $200 for a full 4x8 sheet! Therefore, I was thinking of using it only for the two most outside walls. The problem with this is that the interior of the two outside walls will be hardwood as opposed to the other interior walls. The other two options would be to attach a panel of the above to the exposed sides which is sometime done with a ľ inch hardwood. Is there any problem attaching a ĺ inch piece to the two exposed sides? I can possibly do the same with plain ĺ oak.
    If itís ok to attach a panel, what would be the best the best way to attach the it to the sides (Iím guessing glue and maybe using a micro pin nailer or dowels)?
    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    MA
    Posts
    1,752
    I have done something like this for my office, will snap some pictures when I get home. Some thoughts:

    Birch looks quite nice as a building material. Personally, would pick this over oak anyway (and have). But you may have different preferences.

    I simply ripped 3/4" material that was surfaced, to widths of about 2", glued them onto the edge grain and pinned with brad nailer. Same for shelves, but some trim was left off near the ends so it can nest with the cabinet front trim and come out flush all the way around.

    For the size, I added one shelf that was fixed, in a dado, 2/3 the way up. So a top piece, a bottom piece, and a shelf all in dados to help give some structure. Then I rabbeted the back and put a 1/4" panel in with glue and brad nailer.

    For one section, a door, I did cut material into thinner pieces and glue it directly on the front of the plywood. So this was about 3/8" proud. This gave it the look of rail/style, but it was just strips glued onto the face (no pins or dowels). You could do the same on the sides to mimick a panel design. I would think a full 3/4" would stick out too far.

    Then finally I added a molding around the top.

    It has been about 20 years and these units have held together well with no issues. These were pretty cheap and quick to make (all relative). The shop grade plywood I used looks great to me.

    Personally, I would not try mixing the oak and birch just because they are so different grains. A maple with the birch would be closer. If you want a darker color they both take stain well.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Dickinson, Texas
    Posts
    6,697
    Blog Entries
    1

    Visit this site

    https://www.woodcraft.com/search?utf...d-f1fda5e97959

    And check Rockler as well. There are other sources.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Elliot Lewin View Post
    Newbie woodworker here seeking some advice.
    Iím looking for advice on how to design a large bookcase that I would like to build. The bookcase will be made of 4 units each one about 31Ē wide 8 ft tall, and about 12Ē deep. I plan on connecting the units after they are built in a way that they can be detached if needed, but while attached they will be one big bookcase. Where I live (out of the USA) in general the best plywood available is birch, and there is no such thing as oak plywood or any other kind (besides what I will describe later). I donít plan on building the whole bookcase from hardwood since it would be quite expensive. I also donít have a jointer or thickness planer which is another reason to go with plywood. Although, for the lower part of the bookcase I do plan to make raised panel doors with hardwood, and will have to get it jointed and planed from my supplier. I also plan to make a hardwood face frame and edge band the shelves with hardwood (probably oak).
    My problem is how do I finish the exposed sides of the bookcase (the outer side of each end unit). I donít mind staining the plywood shelves and inside walls even if it wonít match the hardwood perfectly, but I want a better solution for the exposed sides. All the local veneer is very expensive and also thin (about 0.4 max 0.6mm) and not really meant to be sanded and stained.
    Iím thinking one of 3 options. There is one place where I can get a sheet of plywood with 4mm hardwood on each side but it costs about $200 for a full 4x8 sheet! Therefore, I was thinking of using it only for the two most outside walls. The problem with this is that the interior of the two outside walls will be hardwood as opposed to the other interior walls. The other two options would be to attach a panel of the above to the exposed sides which is sometime done with a ľ inch hardwood. Is there any problem attaching a ĺ inch piece to the two exposed sides? I can possibly do the same with plain ĺ oak.
    If itís ok to attach a panel, what would be the best the best way to attach the it to the sides (Iím guessing glue and maybe using a micro pin nailer or dowels)?
    Thanks
    What I normally do on a cabinet like that is build 4 complete cabinet boxes with backs and screw them together laying on the floor. Then put a faceframe on the front gluing and fastening it to the front in such a way it will come apart in it's four pieces. I then completely sand the face of the cabinet ready for finish before taking them apart. Of course any applied trim would have to be applied after the installation.

    There wouldn't be a problem putting 1/4" oak plywood over the top of the exposed ends. When I started building kitchen cabinets particleboard was the wood used for the boxes and the exposed ends were covered with 1/4" plywood.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    49,980
    It's not all that uncommon to do an end-cap for a build-in type installation, be it a kitchen, a bath, an office, etc., to dress up the end of the structure so it's not just a plain slab of plywood. That's what I'd do and I'd apply it before any face frame is installed if there is going to be one.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Austin Texas
    Posts
    1,592
    As Jim says, this is a common approach to hide "cheaper" plywood ends on cabinet runs.

    David

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    MA
    Posts
    1,752
    Here is what the glued on strips look like. This is in a home office environment, they have stayed on without issue for many years now. If you look closely you can see some filled holes on the carcass trim where the air gun brads are. The face trim on the doors were just glued and clamped.

    It is not fancy - making a separate raised panel to attach would be much better quality. But it was quick, looks OK for what I wanted it for (shop grade plywood after all), and has served the function well.

    This mates with two bookcases made the same way. I chose to make this cabinet a different depth than the bookcases (just to break it up a bit, and get more storage). I made them all free standing but then screwed together, from the inside wall, to the adjacent case. They can be separated this way but now do have a hole going through the side which would expose when separated (In fact I did this on the cabinet, needing to relocate it at some point). Again though, these were intended as quick but functional cabinets so I didnt worry about it.




    20191108_210745_resized.jpg 20191108_210752_resized.jpg20191108_210756_resized.jpg
    Last edited by Carl Beckett; 11-09-2019 at 6:21 AM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    49,980
    Similar to what Carl mentioned, I use an applied faux frame and panel look for my tack trunks... .25" thick material carefully fitted and attached with 23 gage pin nails and a few drops of glue. This makes the construction look like frame and panel very nicely. There's no issue with wood movement because of the thin nature of the applied material.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  9. #9
    Thanks to everyone for the detailed replies.
    Just wanted to make clear, as I wrote the cover panel I would place on the side would be 3/4" material unless I'l find a place to get at least 4mm hardwood, and not the paper thin 0.4mm.
    Regarding what was written about oak, I certainly get the point about the difference in the grain, although I believe maple is very expensive where I live. I have way less options than what's available back in the states, and even when it's available it costs much more. Poplar is the cheapest option I have found so far.

  10. #10
    Update. I can get 3/4" maple for a decent price which I will also use for the raised panel doors on the lower part of the cabinet.. Although based on what was written above if maple and birch are very similar after they are stained, maybe I can leave the birch exposed on the sides (not the edges of course), and it will still look good next to the maple doors? Can also make a fake frame on the sides with some maple. Please note one cannot get regular birch boards where I live it - it is only available as plywood.
    Any comment would be appreciated.
    Thanks

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Dickinson, Texas
    Posts
    6,697
    Blog Entries
    1
    I would use solid wood if it were me. Your children will inherit it if you do.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by lowell holmes View Post
    I would use solid wood if it were me. Your children will inherit it if you do.
    I'm with you on that, but where I live the maple will cost me about $13 per per square foot of 3"4 maple (milled down to final size and glued up by the supplier). There is quite a lot of square feet in this project, when you take in to account that each side is 1' x 8'. But honestly the plywood is good quality and if constructed well I believe it can last for a long time.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    49,980
    Maple and birch are often similar in general hue, but they have very different grain pattern and pore structure so they will have some difference in how things like dye/stain absorbs/adheres, etc. They can be perfectly compatible with a little bit of work in that respect.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    Maple and birch are often similar in general hue, but they have very different grain pattern and pore structure so they will have some difference in how things like dye/stain absorbs/adheres, etc. They can be perfectly compatible with a little bit of work in that respect.
    I was thinking of using a dark (probably minwax walnut or chestnut) gel stain so I shouldn't have an issue with blotchy spots.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    49,980
    Test on scrap first!! Always
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •