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wanny 08-27-2012 10:45 PM

Built-in ideas
I am planning a project to install some built ins around our fire place. I want to mimic the finish on the fireplace which has that smooth white glossy finish. It appears that the fireplace was built using MDF which would be really easy to achieve this finish. The problem I have is i want to have 10" deep shelves that span about 35". I understand that MDF sags and i want to build something of quality that will last.

I have attached a picture that has the style i am after. Do i build a frame out of ripped lumber and skin it with 3/8" MDF? if so how thick would this lumber have to be? Idealy I would like the shelves to be 1.5-2" thick.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

PaliBob 08-28-2012 12:43 AM

wanny, Welcome to the Forum. Thanks for posting the picture. Your answer is influenced by your location and your woodworking skills and tools. By posting your location you enable local recommendations for materials. This is not required but Do you have a shop where you can cut and assemble boxes?

Originally Posted by wanny (Post 998025)
.....Do i build a frame out of ripped lumber and skin it with 3/8" MDF?......

I would never recommend this as a DIY project; too many problems.
I would for myself, prefer a melamine solution.

wanny 08-28-2012 10:25 AM

Thanks palibob for the welcome. I have lurked on this site off and on for a while but fit ally made an account. Hofully i can add some value to the site.

I live in Calgary Alberta Canada, so a large enough centre that I have access to most materials.

As far as tools I have the general tools required; circular saw, jigsaw, painting supplies, compressor and nail/staple guns, mitre saw, as well as a table saw as of this week. I don't have a full shop set up though. Everything is portable and stored.

I have done a fair bit of carpentry in the past. Lots of form work, landscape construction (decks, fences and arbours) not a whole lot of finish work though. I have installed trim from time to time while working for a builder.

I am still interested in any ideal of how I can mimic the picture showed. I expect it to be a more involved project.


joecaption 08-28-2012 10:34 AM

I would use 3/4" cabinet grade plywood and make 1 X face frames Using Kreg screws.
I prime them and paint them with epoxy paint.

user1007 08-28-2012 11:11 AM

Since you are not looking for anything that tricky, you might explore Ready to Assemble (RTA) cabinet options out there.

As for finish, you could prime and use a two part epoxy finish I guess. Melamine paint, if you want a super high gloss, would be a more practical solution. For that matter, primer and a high gloss acrylic product should do the trick.

wanny 08-28-2012 03:08 PM

joecaption - I like the sounds of that,stronger for sure.

so i want about 1.5" shelves so i would laminate 2 3/4" pieces of plywood and face it with a 1.5" hardwood face?

I looked into Kreg screws as I have not heard of them before, is this just a pocket-hole screw or what advantage do these provide me.

I will do some research on RTA as well

user1007 08-28-2012 04:37 PM

They are no substitute for real joinery but pocket screws tend to go in at angle that makes simple joints stronger. Kreg is but one such system.

PaliBob 08-28-2012 06:08 PM

1 Attachment(s)

Originally Posted by wanny (Post 998314)
I am still interested in any ideal of how I can mimic the picture showed......

Mike, Your pic shows shelves that appear to be ~1-1/5" thick.
Your other requirement for a long run of 35". For these reasons, I would
not go with plywood and a face frame. I would double up on melamine.

Is there any way you can make a little sketch of what you want to do?
One of the first things you want to do is check out your Calgary Melamine
sources. Try all of them, hopefully you will find one that cuts panels for
local Cabinet shops. I'm lucky where I live because I'm only about 10 miles
from Anderson Plywood in Culver City where they can cut all the panels
for a project your size in about 20 minutes.

wanny 08-28-2012 11:06 PM

Ya I am working on a sketch of the final product now and i should be able to post that tomorrow.

I have come up with an idea of how i plan to build it and i plan to create a drawing of that as well so i can post it here and get some input.

I am leaning heavily towards plywood now. Malamine wont match the fireplace work it will be next to. Pics of that to come as well.

Thanks for all the help so far.


joecaption 08-28-2012 11:21 PM

Unless you plan on storing concrete blocks or brick on the shevles, 3/4 thick is enough if you face frame.

Look at your kitchen cabinets shelves, see anything 1-1/2 thick. Go in any furniture store or libray and look at how thick the shelves are.

wanny 08-29-2012 12:09 AM

So you saying to use 2 1/2" or smaller sheets of plywood instead of the 2 3/4"?

joecaption 08-29-2012 12:21 AM

No, 1, sheet of 3/4 cabinet grade plywood. There is no need to layer anything.
Cabinet grade means more plys, so it's stronger then reguler 3/4 plywood.

wanny 08-29-2012 12:26 AM

Ok so I want the thick look. Idealy 1.5". So either 2 ply of 3/4 inch or smaller sheets with some type of spacer on between them. I am thinking I may as well just laminate the 2 3/4" sheets.

joecaption 08-29-2012 12:50 AM

This is what a face framed shelving unit looks like.
See how the front of the shelve look thick, there not it's the frames that make it look thick.
Making it two layers will only double the cost of building them.

PaliBob 08-29-2012 05:53 AM

1 Attachment(s)

Originally Posted by wanny (Post 998025)
.....I want to mimic the finish on the fireplace which has that smooth white glossy finish.........

Mike, that is a Melamine Finish. The attached pic is not that great but take a look at melamine at your plywood stores.
Melamine is a plastic resin that is attached to particle board and then referred to as melamine panels or just melamine.
The most common melamine color is that frosty white but it also comes in
black and a whole rainbow of colors.
When 4 x 8 sheets of melamine are cut down to smaller sizes the resulting
panels particle board core is covered with melamine edge banding. This is
a DIY project that only requires a household iron to melt the attached melamine heat sensitive glue.
The most common DIY edge banding tape is sized for ” thick panels but there is a wider tape sized for sandwiched 1-” panels that I bought at Andersons.

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