Shelving Materials and fixings advice required - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 01-12-2016, 12:31 PM Thread Starter
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Shelving Materials and fixings advice required

I just had a new cloakroom built and want to put some shelving and hanging into it. I have an idea in my head and can picture it quite clearly so hopefully my explanations make sense J
The room is about 70cm deep, and 190cm wide. The door is in the centre, so it therefore gives two sections to work with each being the 70cm wide and about 46cm deep. The walls are a mixture of internal stud walls and insulated plasterboard against concrete brick walls.
My plan is to secure everything straight onto the walls, not using any carcass and thus maximising the space. I intend to put one shelf on each side at height of the top of the door (there is a high ceiling). On the left side of the room, under the shelf I plan to install a wardrobe rail running the 70cm width to hang coats on. Under that, there would be a couple of drawers for housing hats, gloves, scarves and shoes etc. On the right side, I will have a second shelf with about 45 cm clearance to the top shelf. Under that, I will split the area into two sections. On the left, farthest from the door, will be a tall space for storing Step Ladder and Ironing board. On the right area, another couple of shelves and a section on the bottom for storing the hoover.
I have all the (fes)tools, but would be a relative novice at this kind of project, but certainly happy to give it a go and feel I can do a decent job. I think the long thing, (can't remember it's name!) is supposed to be for ripping sheets, not set it up at all yet. Iím not too sure of some things though, so would appreciate any help and input you guys can supply.
My plan would be to buy a couple of large sheets 2440*1220 (18-20mm thick) and rip and cross cut them to suit my requirements. For the shelves I was thinking I should cut batons about 75mm from the sheets and secure these to the walls to give support on both sides and the rear of the shelves. The baton on the long back wall for the top shelves will run the full width of the room and in the open area I will put some extra coat hooks on. I was going to secure a wardrobe hanging rail like this one to the batons on the left side.
Iím nervous about securing the batons to the walls, what is the best way to secure shelves to them so they don't fall down? I hate plasterboard! For the stud walls, I was going to use some plasterboard fixings, but which ones would you recommend? For the walls with the insulated plasterboard, as they are up against concrete walls, I was thinking I should go in a few inches to get into the concrete and use long raw plugs. I have never experienced this insulated plasterboard before. How easy/difficult will that make it? I was also considering using some adhesive such as Tec 7 along with screwing them in. I donít envisage anything majorly heavy being stored, but I do want them secure and with young kids in the house, you know they will be hanging out of them! J
Now what kind of wood I should use. I want it to be sturdy and solid and most importantly to look well. I am strongly thinking of getting some of these panels of finger joined solid Oak and ripping and cross cutting them up to suit the sizes and requirements using this online tool. However, Iím not too sure how these sheets will fair out when they are cut. Would I be ruining them? Being finger joined panels will ripping and cross cutting them weaken their strength, specifically for the batons? Someone told me I wouldnít have the tools to handle cutting this kind of wood, but surely Festools are up to the job.
Failing the Oak panels, my alternatives are Veneered MDF or Birch Plywood. If I went with the MDF I presume I would have to seal all the edges somehow. Would iron on edging be sufficient or should they be painted/varnished/specific treatment? Would you have to do every single edge with it? I have used it once before for a simple desk and it worked out ok when I varnished it. Iíve no idea on the Birch plywood, never seen it, never used it and no idea how I should treat it, but it looks like a decent material. I was not really wanting to put cheap melamine up and Iím not really sure that MDF would be a good option either. Any opinions or advice greatly appreciated.
As I will also be building a couple of drawers, I was wondering if MDF would be a decent medium for building the frame? I would be dovetailing the joints using a jig, and put a front panel on it to match whatever material I went with for the rest of the room.
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post #2 of 10 Old 01-12-2016, 02:48 PM
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The MDF in the U.S. Is not veneered, so the edges can be routed or left plain. MDF is commonly used in closets and painted.
Prior to MDF, 1" X 12" pine was commonly used for closet shelving. Using solid 1 X12's would eliminate much of your cutting and offer a solid edge.
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post #3 of 10 Old 01-13-2016, 05:20 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply Toolman, however it doesn't really answer any of my questions. I want to keep everything the same wood as using different materials takes away from the look, so that rules out your suggestion.
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post #4 of 10 Old 01-13-2016, 06:37 AM
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In my opinion mdf would be a poor choice for the shelving you are doing. It would be alright for verticals but for shelves it would be prone to sagging. The edges on veneered MDF could be covered with veneer tape that matches the face veneer. The tape comes with hot melt glue on it so it's just a matter of heating it on with a hot iron and trimming off the excess. 1x12 pine or other solid wood would be the most durable. The knots on pine would just be a little problematic. They would just need to be sealed with a dewaxed shellac prior to painting or varnishing. The knots tend to bleed sap through the paint and the shellac provides a barrier coat. Plywood could also be used. The edges of it could also be covered with veneer tape or a solid wood piece molding.
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post #5 of 10 Old 01-13-2016, 08:19 AM
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man made substrates are ......

MDF, Melamine and particle board are made from chips or sawdust with a glue or resin binder. They have great strength when used vertically and the load is in "compression", BUT not very strong when used horizontally when the load is distributed across the length like a shelf and sagging will result.

Plywood is also a man made substrate, but is far less prone to sagging when used horizontally with a distributed load along it's length like a shelf. Plywood is made by laminating layers of thinner material to form a thick one. The process of lamination works better than a homogeneous substrate because the layers have to "stretch" for it to sag, but are held in place by the binder/glue which prevents the movement.

An edge treatment whether real wood strips glued on or an iron on tape will cover the layers. I would not use finger joints on any man made substrate. Pocket screws and glue are getting lots of "raves" even by seasoned woodworkers when you can use them and not have the holes visible. I am currently using butt joints with glue and nails to make utility shelving system and they are very strong, but visible. I am also using 1/2" plywood glued on the back for more strength when loading the shelves with heavy items.

If the end or corner joints will be visible and the plywood layers won't work for you, then that's a bigger issue and not as easy to conceal them other than by using beveled pieces which are difficult to hold in registration during glue up AND difficult to make accurately. A track saw or a sliding table table saw..... $$$$$..... would be best in that case. It's been a long time since I used beveled joinery on casework for those reasons.

You can use a rabbeted edge with a trim strip on the short leg to conceal the layers .... lots of work however. A "lock miter" is also possible but managing large panels on a router table is not "easy".

You can add strength by putting a face frame across the front and not exceeding the recommend span/distance between vertical supports.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 01-13-2016 at 08:24 AM.
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post #6 of 10 Old 01-16-2016, 11:23 AM
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There aren't many certainties in construction/woodworking but one thing is certain and that is shelves are always better out of solid wood properly secured. Man made boards will certain "sag" over time.

I know it has already been said by two others but I thought it was worth reiterating.

I'd go overboard with fixings into plasterboard/stud partition walls since shelving on those particular types of walls can come down over time even if they don't hold an exceptional amount of weight.

None of what I say is fact just my own opinion based on a mere 8 years of working experience. I'm sure the others are much more qualified.
Post some pics of what you go with!

*On a side note I have seen some amazing built in furniture built out of MDF that does NOT sag. However, the MDF has to be supported very often by vertical pieces supporting the horizontal peoples. MDF edging also doesn't paint very well but nothing a bit of fine filler won't fix in a few moments!
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post #7 of 10 Old 01-18-2016, 07:39 AM Thread Starter
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Maybe I haven't made myself clear. I want to use Solid Oak, not MDF or Plywood, they are just alternative options.

My concern is the sheets of OAK I am looking to purchase, are finger joined already. Now if I go ripping lengths of them and cross cutting them, would I be weakening their strength / integrity?

I have a Festool Track Saw, so I presume that should be up to the job to cut the OAK?
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post #8 of 10 Old 01-18-2016, 09:15 AM
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There certainly isn't anything wrong with solid oak. Assuming you will have to glue the wood together to make wider planks be sure when you install it you install it loose enough to allow for wood movement. The wood will expand and contract and you need to allow for that.

Personally I don't use anything finger jointed for a permanent application. I see too much of it come apart or at the very least show the joint due to wood movement. As far as I'm concerned I would like to see it un-invented.

The Festool track saw should be more than enough to do the job you are doing.
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post #9 of 10 Old 01-18-2016, 11:54 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Steve
Someone told me (on another forum) I didn't have the proper tools to do the job, despite me telling them I have a range of Festools, Tables, Routers etc.

You seem to share my concerns regarding the finger jointed sheets I am looking at.
I just don't know where I can find anything else in my locality. I guess I'll have to dig a bit deeper.
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post #10 of 10 Old 01-19-2016, 07:48 AM
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Can you get pictures of the sheets of oak that you are talking about? I would be hesitant to use anything that is fingerjointed across the entire width too. That being said, if you are buying oak boards that are many thin strips, with the occasional fingerjoint, and they are staggered, you should be OK.

At that point, I would personally use an oak faced plywood(veneer core) and face it will strips of real oak. That would give you the same look, and would make the build process much easier. I know you want solid oak, but sometimes the use of a man made substance just moves things along so much more quickly that it is worth it.

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