Jamie McGannon

Baltic birch ply or MDF for pull out shelf

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I'm building a closet built in for my sons bedroom and need your opinion, which is a better shelf material?

The shelf measures 28"x28" and will be attached to slides to pull out and needs to be measure 1" thick to accommodate the slides.

1. Does anyone know if Baltic birch multiply is available 1" thick?

2. Would 1" thick MDF serve as a better shelf material?

The shelf will hold 30-50lbs.

Thnx

Jamie

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At 28 by 28 you could use 1/2" or 5/8 " thick Baltic and double up the edges with 1 1/2" wide strips. That way it is thick enough for the slides and doesn't weigh a lot either. I like the 5/8 better, it is usually just a bit more than 9/16 thick so doubled it is 1 3/16" thick. It is plenty strong and stiff for a shelf that size. A little yellow glue and either clamps or a few short nails and there you go.

I bought a few sheets of 5/8 today for $31 a sheet but anything under $ 40 is reasonable if you aren't buying quantity. The 1/2 is cheaper but it measures a bit under 1/2" so doubled it is under 15/16" and it is not as stiff as I like.

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Agreed with wdwerker. Plenty strong as he advised, or edge band the plywood with some solid material to give you an anchoring point for your slides. MDF would not be suitable as it would sag over time, would be very heavy and as usual, a child will inadvertently climb on the shelf to reach something higher. MDF may split under this type of point load whereas ply probably will not.

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I like the look of the Baltic birch edge. I fill any small voids. On most of my drawers I just sand out the saw marks and ease the corners. A coat or 2 of Danish oil is an easy finish that is simple to repair / renew . To attach a solid wood edge you could biscuit, Domino, or use one of many different router bits. I have used a winged slot cutting bit to groove the ply and solid wood edge and made a snug fitting strip to glue them together.

At the size you need a liberal coat of glue and a few pin nails will do the trick unless you really object to filling a few nail holes.

I would double up the ply around the edge with the panel cut oversize then trim to size, thus yielding a flatter face to attach the solid wood to.

Most Baltic has football shaped patches in at least one face. Not always a good ply for stain and finish applications. In a shelf or drawers they are rarely seen when in use.

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I would double up the ply around the edge with the panel cut oversize then trim to size, thus yielding a flatter face to attach the solid wood to.

 

Steve, what do you mean "double up the ply around the edges"? my plan was to glue up 2 pieces of 5/8, 30x30 then cut to size. Is this what you mean?

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You don't need to use that much ply although your method is simpler. You can rip 1.5 to 2 inch strips of ply to glue around the edges of a single layer of ply and keep the weight down. This way your edges are doubled.

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