Shelving - Wood or MDF?

Discussion in 'UK DIY' started by jgkgolf@hotmail.com, Apr 25, 2006.

  1. Guest

    I'M planning to put up quite a lot of shelving (25 metres) throughout
    our house and am trying to decide whether to use wood or MDF.
    The areas I'm shelving are between chimney breasts and the adjacent
    walls. The depth is about 32 cm and the width is either 50 cm or 100cm.

    The only suitable wood at my local timber yard is only 27cm deep (27mm
    thick) and costs £7 per metre.
    I can get a 4 foot * 8 foot sheet of MDF(15mm thick) cut into four
    strips for £11 so that is much cheaper, approx £1 per metre.

    I want the shelves to look neat and clean and not sag. I want to use a
    20mm baton screwed to the wall to support the shelves instead of
    brackets as I think it gives a neater finish.

    I'm worried that if I use MDF the 1metre shelves will sag.

    I'm also worried that I won't be able to get the sawn edge of the MDF
    smooth by sanding and painting and I will be left with a rough edge
    facing out.

    If I decide to spend the moneyand use the wood I'm worried that the
    fact that the depth 27mm which is 5mm short of the depth of the alcove
    will look odd (or is this my imagination)?

    Any thoughts or suggestions greatly appreciated.
    , Apr 25, 2006
    #1
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  2. Guest

    MDF no good for shelves unless very light load or temporary.

    cheers

    Jacob
    , Apr 25, 2006
    #2
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  3. Mr Fixit Guest

    <> wrote in message
    news:...
    I'M planning to put up quite a lot of shelving (25 metres) throughout
    our house and am trying to decide whether to use wood or MDF.
    The areas I'm shelving are between chimney breasts and the adjacent
    walls. The depth is about 32 cm and the width is either 50 cm or 100cm.

    The only suitable wood at my local timber yard is only 27cm deep (27mm
    thick) and costs £7 per metre.
    I can get a 4 foot * 8 foot sheet of MDF(15mm thick) cut into four
    strips for £11 so that is much cheaper, approx £1 per metre.

    I want the shelves to look neat and clean and not sag. I want to use a
    20mm baton screwed to the wall to support the shelves instead of
    brackets as I think it gives a neater finish.

    I'm worried that if I use MDF the 1metre shelves will sag.

    I'm also worried that I won't be able to get the sawn edge of the MDF
    smooth by sanding and painting and I will be left with a rough edge
    facing out.

    If I decide to spend the moneyand use the wood I'm worried that the
    fact that the depth 27mm which is 5mm short of the depth of the alcove
    will look odd (or is this my imagination)?

    Any thoughts or suggestions greatly appreciated.

    looking at the mdf loft floor in my garage it does seem to sag much more
    then the chipboard floor
    Mr Fixit, Apr 25, 2006
    #3
  4. In article <>,
    <> wrote:
    > If I decide to spend the moneyand use the wood I'm worried that the
    > fact that the depth 27mm which is 5mm short of the depth of the alcove
    > will look odd (or is this my imagination)?


    Screw a strip of wood along what will become the back of the shelf at right
    angles to the shelf. This will stiffen it (reduce sagging) and incidentally
    bring the shelf forward as required. You can make the strip flush with the
    bottom of the shelf (and stop books from touching the wall) or flush with the
    top of the shelf (and hide the wall in the space above the books on the shelf
    below).

    --
    John Cartmell john@ followed by finnybank.com 0845 006 8822
    Qercus magazine FAX +44 (0)8700-519-527 www.finnybank.com
    Qercus - the best guide to RISC OS computing
    John Cartmell, Apr 25, 2006
    #4
  5. Guest

    270mm is a very wide board, I would look for a widely used stock item
    that could serve - such as tongue & groove (t&g) floorboard - say 25mm
    thick by 150mm wide. Then you can phone around on price.

    You don't say if you working entirely with a handheld circular saw (I
    assume you are).

    You will need to trim the width on half the boards to get rid of the
    tongue, make these your front edge boards - you'll be getting them
    exactly to your required width at the same time - much quicker if you
    know someone with a tablesaw to do this. Otherwise clamp a guide along
    the edge.

    Cut them to a little over the required length, glue the two together
    with the remaining tongue and groove, then trim exactly to length -
    remember your wall recesses will all be different and far from square.

    Fit wall battens around three sides for max support. Leaving the
    shelves lift-outable makes future decorating easier.

    But why make the shelves exactly to depth? A more common look is to
    have them recessed by about 50mm - hiding any irregularities in depth
    of the wall recesses.

    If you go with MDF, screw and glue real timber (could be same size as
    battens) to the front underside edge of each shelf to add extra
    rigidity (set them a few mm back from the front edge to neaten the
    appearance - and/or glue/screw a real timber trim to the front edge of
    the mdf). This will also hide the butt ends of the side battens.
    , Apr 25, 2006
    #5
  6. Guest

    Suggestion above of thick ply and nosing is very good. Look at "red
    ply" or "birch ply"
    , Apr 25, 2006
    #6
  7. On 25 Apr 2006 04:48:56 -0700, wrote:

    |I'M planning to put up quite a lot of shelving (25 metres) throughout
    |our house and am trying to decide whether to use wood or MDF.
    |The areas I'm shelving are between chimney breasts and the adjacent
    |walls. The depth is about 32 cm and the width is either 50 cm or 100cm.
    |
    |The only suitable wood at my local timber yard is only 27cm deep (27mm
    |thick) and costs ?7 per metre.
    |I can get a 4 foot * 8 foot sheet of MDF(15mm thick) cut into four
    |strips for ?11 so that is much cheaper, approx ?1 per metre.
    |
    |I want the shelves to look neat and clean and not sag. I want to use a
    |20mm baton screwed to the wall to support the shelves instead of
    |brackets as I think it gives a neater finish.
    |
    |I'm worried that if I use MDF the 1metre shelves will sag.
    |
    |I'm also worried that I won't be able to get the sawn edge of the MDF
    |smooth by sanding and painting and I will be left with a rough edge
    |facing out.
    |
    |If I decide to spend the moneyand use the wood I'm worried that the
    |fact that the depth 27mm which is 5mm short of the depth of the alcove
    |will look odd (or is this my imagination)?
    |
    |Any thoughts or suggestions greatly appreciated.

    My shelving, for June's *heavy* books has lasted for *years* without
    sagging. Also in the Office where a row of A4 binders and more books
    reside. They are 15mm contiboard supported with standard shelf brackets[1]
    at not more than 500mm centres, with 150 to 200mm overhang at each end. The
    key is lots of support

    [1]The sheds sell many variations on the theme a long vertical metal bit
    with holes/slots every inch or so in which you hook horizontal things
    roughly the width of the shelves. You can change the height of each shelf
    with ease.
    --
    Dave Fawthrop <dave hyphenologist co uk> Google Groups is IME the *worst*
    method of accessing usenet. GG subscribers would be well advised get a
    newsreader, say Agent, and a newsserver, say news.individual.net. These
    will allow them: to see only *new* posts, a killfile, and other goodies.
    Dave Fawthrop, Apr 25, 2006
    #7
  8. Guy King Guest

    The message <88o3g.44716$>
    from "Mr Fixit" <> contains these words:

    > I'm also worried that I won't be able to get the sawn edge of the MDF
    > smooth by sanding and painting and I will be left with a rough edge
    > facing out.


    My shelves are 2' long and supported only at the ends by shelving wires
    (Woodfit sell 'em). They've not sagged yet after nearly five years of
    having heavy loads on 'em.

    As for the edges - mine have been rounded over on the top edge and
    chamfered on the bottom edge. Well sanded and painted there's no
    indication that they're MDF except where one has been scraped.

    --
    Skipweasel
    Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
    Guy King, Apr 25, 2006
    #8
  9. Guy King Guest

    The message <>
    from contains these words:

    > MDF no good for shelves unless very light load or temporary.


    No trouble here - 2' wide, a foot deep. Paperbacks stacked two-deep on
    most of 'em, bigger books on others. No sagging.

    --
    Skipweasel
    Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
    Guy King, Apr 25, 2006
    #9
  10. Guy King Guest

    The message <>
    from Dave Fawthrop <> contains these words:

    > My shelving, for June's *heavy* books has lasted for *years* without
    > sagging.


    But what are they made of?

    --
    Skipweasel
    Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
    Guy King, Apr 25, 2006
    #10
  11. On Tue, 25 Apr 2006 15:18:34 +0100, Guy King <> wrote:

    |The message <>
    |from Dave Fawthrop <> contains these words:
    |
    |> My shelving, for June's *heavy* books has lasted for *years* without
    |> sagging.
    |
    |But what are they made of?

    Like I said and you *snipped*. Contiboard, which is 15mm chipboard
    veneered with wood or plastic, more or less what OP is suggesting.
    You also snipped the support method which is *very* important.
    --
    Dave Fawthrop <dave hyphenologist co uk> Google Groups is IME the *worst*
    method of accessing usenet. GG subscribers would be well advised get a
    newsreader, say Agent, and a newsserver, say news.individual.net. These
    will allow them: to see only *new* posts, a killfile, and other goodies.
    Dave Fawthrop, Apr 25, 2006
    #11
  12. Guy King Guest

    The message <>
    from Dave Fawthrop <> contains these words:

    > Like I said and you *snipped*. Contiboard,


    Ooops, so you did. I really looked, too. I must shoot the kids - they're
    too distracting.

    --
    Skipweasel
    Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
    Guy King, Apr 25, 2006
    #12
  13. Guest

    wrote:
    > I'M planning to put up quite a lot of shelving (25 metres) throughout
    > our house and am trying to decide whether to use wood or MDF.
    > The areas I'm shelving are between chimney breasts and the adjacent
    > walls. The depth is about 32 cm and the width is either 50 cm or 100cm.
    >
    > The only suitable wood at my local timber yard is only 27cm deep (27mm
    > thick) and costs £7 per metre.
    > I can get a 4 foot * 8 foot sheet of MDF(15mm thick) cut into four
    > strips for £11 so that is much cheaper, approx £1 per metre.
    >
    > I want the shelves to look neat and clean and not sag. I want to use a
    > 20mm baton screwed to the wall to support the shelves instead of
    > brackets as I think it gives a neater finish.
    >
    > I'm worried that if I use MDF the 1metre shelves will sag.
    >
    > I'm also worried that I won't be able to get the sawn edge of the MDF
    > smooth by sanding and painting and I will be left with a rough edge
    > facing out.
    >
    > If I decide to spend the moneyand use the wood I'm worried that the
    > fact that the depth 27mm which is 5mm short of the depth of the alcove
    > will look odd (or is this my imagination)?
    >
    > Any thoughts or suggestions greatly appreciated.


    I dislike mdf but it would work, as long as enough support is there.
    The big problem with mdf is if you put cups/mugs/glasses on it, the
    drops of water soon turn it into a mess. But as long as you dont do
    that with bookshelves, it'll work. I'd still choose wood if poss
    though, much nicer, and you know it'll last.


    NT
    , Apr 25, 2006
    #13
  14. wrote:
    > I'M planning to put up quite a lot of shelving (25 metres) throughout
    > our house and am trying to decide whether to use wood or MDF.
    > The areas I'm shelving are between chimney breasts and the adjacent
    > walls. The depth is about 32 cm and the width is either 50 cm or 100cm.
    >
    > The only suitable wood at my local timber yard is only 27cm deep (27mm
    > thick) and costs £7 per metre.
    > I can get a 4 foot * 8 foot sheet of MDF(15mm thick) cut into four
    > strips for £11 so that is much cheaper, approx £1 per metre.
    >
    > I want the shelves to look neat and clean and not sag. I want to use a
    > 20mm baton


    Batten

    >screwed to the wall to support the shelves instead of
    > brackets as I think it gives a neater finish.
    >
    > I'm worried that if I use MDF the 1metre shelves will sag.
    >

    They will sag. You will need a bit at right angles.

    > I'm also worried that I won't be able to get the sawn edge of the MDF
    > smooth by sanding and painting and I will be left with a rough edge
    > facing out.
    >

    It sands well, but the dust makes you pretty ill. You need to double
    prime and sand the edge grain.


    > If I decide to spend the moneyand use the wood I'm worried that the
    > fact that the depth 27mm which is 5mm short of the depth of the alcove
    > will look odd (or is this my imagination)?
    >
    > Any thoughts or suggestions greatly appreciated.
    >
    The Natural Philosopher, Apr 26, 2006
    #14
  15. Dave Fawthrop wrote:
    > On Tue, 25 Apr 2006 15:18:34 +0100, Guy King <> wrote:
    >
    > |The message <>
    > |from Dave Fawthrop <> contains these words:
    > |
    > |> My shelving, for June's *heavy* books has lasted for *years* without
    > |> sagging.
    > |
    > |But what are they made of?
    >
    > Like I said and you *snipped*. Contiboard, which is 15mm chipboard
    > veneered with wood or plastic, more or less what OP is suggesting.
    > You also snipped the support method which is *very* important.


    I used contiboard for my 12" LP'S and they sagged like a bitch. A lot
    depends on loads. books are not as heavy as records by a long chalk.
    The Natural Philosopher, Apr 26, 2006
    #15
  16. wrote:

    > The big problem with mdf is if you put cups/mugs/glasses on it, the
    > drops of water soon turn it into a mess.


    Not if its painted properly.

    Acrylic wood primer and a decent oil based undercoat and top coat.

    Mind you its a bloody hassle, which is why cuntyboard is so popular.
    The Natural Philosopher, Apr 26, 2006
    #16
  17. Guest

    The Natural Philosopher wrote:
    > wrote:


    > > The big problem with mdf is if you put cups/mugs/glasses on it, the
    > > drops of water soon turn it into a mess.

    >
    > Not if its painted properly.
    >
    > Acrylic wood primer and a decent oil based undercoat and top coat.


    Mine was painted, though what with I dont know. But it only takes one
    scratch and the wood fibres will swell up next time they see a drop of
    water. And thats what happened, here, there, there... If you live alone
    and treat it with care, no cups, maybe, but cups were used and it went
    wood fibres up.

    Having once lived with a gloss painted worksurface, theyre just not
    durable enough long term imho. Just not an option I'd choose when you
    can have proper wood that'll look good and last a century or three. If
    youre stuck for cash, sure, it'll work for several years.

    MDF is probably also due for a health scare some time soon, so isnt an
    ideal long term investment. Give me real wood any day.


    NT
    , Apr 26, 2006
    #17
  18. wrote:
    > The Natural Philosopher wrote:
    >> wrote:

    >
    >>> The big problem with mdf is if you put cups/mugs/glasses on it, the
    >>> drops of water soon turn it into a mess.

    >> Not if its painted properly.
    >>
    >> Acrylic wood primer and a decent oil based undercoat and top coat.

    >
    > Mine was painted, though what with I dont know. But it only takes one
    > scratch and the wood fibres will swell up next time they see a drop of
    > water. And thats what happened, here, there, there... If you live alone
    > and treat it with care, no cups, maybe, but cups were used and it went
    > wood fibres up.
    >
    > Having once lived with a gloss painted worksurface, theyre just not
    > durable enough long term imho. Just not an option I'd choose when you
    > can have proper wood that'll look good and last a century or three. If
    > youre stuck for cash, sure, it'll work for several years.
    >


    I would use eggshell frankly. Farrow and Ball,

    I agree that all in all painted MDF is a poor substitute for real wood,
    and getting a decent finish on it is expensive and time consuming

    Real wood window boards(s/cills) are available from builders merchants
    and are about the right size for shelves.

    > MDF is probably also due for a health scare some time soon, so isnt an
    > ideal long term investment. Give me real wood any day.
    >
    >
    > NT
    >
    The Natural Philosopher, Apr 26, 2006
    #18
  19. dennis@home Guest

    "The Natural Philosopher" <> wrote in message
    news:...

    > I used contiboard for my 12" LP'S and they sagged like a bitch. A lot
    > depends on loads. books are not as heavy as records by a long chalk.


    Contiboard isn't mdf.
    Its much poorer quality.

    I would grove the edge of the MDF and spline a piece of real wood in the
    long edge(s).
    If it sags add a stretched piece of wire and a central bridge piece (like an
    upside down bridge) to keep it straight.
    It should look quite modern.
    dennis@home, Apr 26, 2006
    #19
  20. dcbwhaley Guest

    Take a look at http://www.woodbin.com/calcs/sagulator.htm . This has
    an applet which calculates sag for differanr materials and sizes.

    There is a health hazard with the formaldehyde glues used in MDF. But
    it is only a problem when you are cutting it. Work in a well
    ventilated area or outdoors and wear a mask

    dave
    dcbwhaley, Apr 26, 2006
    #20
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