Another alcove shelves post...

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sams93

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I have got to make 4 alcove shelves in the next month or so. She wants them to be oak to match the oak alcove units I made below.

1232mm long, 300mm wide. They need to be about 40mm no thicker, maybe slightly less at 35mm. They might hold a bit of weight with some books etc, but probably mostly ornaments and some pictures. I am thinking of using MDF to make the shelves, then veneer the top and bottom with oak veneer, and use a 12-20mm oak edging for the front.

I can attatch battens to the walls and at the back to support (the shelves can be slid onto them) which I think makes most sense. Of course to make life easy my 1880 house has walls curved like bananas.

I have never glued on veneer sheets before, I know a veneer press or vaccum press is the ideal thing to use, but I will probably have to use just some sheets of ply to press them (I might be able to use one of our 'vaccum storage bags' - the things for clothes, not sure if that's a good idea or not!

I'm interested in advice on the shelf construction. It should be well supported at the sides and back with the battens as described, I was going to make them with 9 or 12mm MDF, hollow with some brace pieces to space the two sheets out to get the right total thickness. Would the hardwood edging at the front be sufficient for structural rigidity or would it be worth trying to embed something more rigid in the construction somewhere.

I'm on a budget approach to them.

Thanks in advance for any wisdom or expertise anyone can share.
 

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Mostly the faced MDF i can find is on both sides, it seems a bit expensive to waste a side each time if i am using 2x pieces per shelf.

I can get a 2500 x 600 sheet of Oak Veneer for £32,

Per shelf I need Two 1250 x 300, so I can make two shelves per sheet of that. Two sheets of that (£64) would do the whole job.
 
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I managed to come into another solid oak kitchen worktop which I think I will just use for these shelves.

It is an oak stave worktop, 40mm thick.

I plan on attaching some 18mm square battens to the three sides of the alcove wall it will contact, then routing a corresponding groove into the edges of the shelves. Then hopefully I can just slide the shelves onto the battens and that will hold it.

I would welcome any thoughts on this plan.
 
MDF has no structural strength and I think you would at least want to glue a 40 x 40 solid wood batten on the front edge to avoid sagging. You could veneer over it to hide it.
I prefer to use a cheap flush door cut down to size for alcove shelving now. It can be painted or veneered over.
 
MDF has no structural strength and I think you would at least want to glue a 40 x 40 solid wood batten on the front edge to avoid sagging. You could veneer over it to hide it.
I prefer to use a cheap flush door cut down to size for alcove shelving now. It can be painted or veneered over.
Sorry I should have been clearer with my latest post, i'm making from solid oak stave board now
 
Should work. I would make the battens 17 mm thick for an 18 mm groove in the staveboard. There is bound to be some warpage in the board or slight misalignment when screwing the battens to the wall.
 
Should work. I would make the battens 17 mm thick for an 18 mm groove in the staveboard. There is bound to be some warpage in the board or slight misalignment when screwing the battens to the wall.
Good shout, I maybe should go for 15mm battens and a 18mm groove even to give me a bit of play... 2mm isn't a lot over a 1200mm span
 
I did some big shelves like this with in Maple these were about a metre deep as the alcove was massive it was for home office equipment and stuff.
I will try to explain the method. I made up ladder type frames from solid wood which were screwed into the walls, then I made up sandwiches from maple veneered mdf with a solid maple front which was rebated to accept the veneered board , I think I used 12mm for the top and 6mm for the bottom these were then slid over the ladder frame and screwed from below with just a couple of small screws right at the back on the top, the botom shelf stuck out an extra 500mm so they could stand on it to reach the top shelf so they had to be strong.

Ollie
 
Like this
I have done this (with some shelves made up of a sandwich over a ladder frame).

Two things:

a) I would keep the batten and housing groove in the boards at the lower part of the 40mm, thus maximising the thickness of wood actually holding the weight.

b) make a template for the shelves - you need to do this anyway - and check if you can actually slide the shelf in. In my case I referred to, for one of the shelf positions the opening was narrower at the front than at the back - I had to ,are up some little tapered slips that I glued in position after sliding the shelf in.

Cheers
 
I have done this (with some shelves made up of a sandwich over a ladder frame).

Two things:

a) I would keep the batten and housing groove in the boards at the lower part of the 40mm, thus maximising the thickness of wood actually holding the weight.

b) make a template for the shelves - you need to do this anyway - and check if you can actually slide the shelf in. In my case I referred to, for one of the shelf positions the opening was narrower at the front than at the back - I had to ,are up some little tapered slips that I glued in position after sliding the shelf in.

Cheers
That's helpful to know. I feel a bit stupid now that I hadn't considered making a template... I have just measured and was intending to trim to fit at the end...

I know the opening is narrowest at the back and widest at the front which is the ideal way round!
 
I have done this (with some shelves made up of a sandwich over a ladder frame).

Two things:

a) I would keep the batten and housing groove in the boards at the lower part of the 40mm, thus maximising the thickness of wood actually holding the weight.

b) make a template for the shelves - you need to do this anyway - and check if you can actually slide the shelf in. In my case I referred to, for one of the shelf positions the opening was narrower at the front than at the back - I had to ,are up some little tapered slips that I glued in position after sliding the shelf in.

Cheers
Forgot to mention about making sure they slid in, an important detail !
I didn't do a template but measured carefully and tested and adjusted until they were just right.
If the alcove tapers significantly and is tighter at the front it might be that you have to do the top and bottom faces separately and lay them on rather than slide them in.

Ollie
 
Just on templating - this does make the whole job much easier all round.

My technique is to use strips of 6mm plywood or mdf - say 50mm or more wide. I scribe a piece to fit each side, obviously with a straight piece for the front. I then join the pieces in situ with small overlapping offcuts hot-glued. For the shelves you would want to template at the actual shelf position as all walls are wonkier than they look(!), so support the strips whilst fitting them.

Then you have a template that you can use for routing the shelf or whatever to fit exactly.

Cheers
 
Just on templating - this does make the whole job much easier all round.

My technique is to use strips of 6mm plywood or mdf - say 50mm wide. I scribe a piece to fit each side, obviously with a straight piece for the front. I then join the pieces in situ with small overlapping offcuts hot-glued. For the shelves you would want to template at the actual shelf position as all walls are wonkier than they look(!), so support the strips whilst fitting them.

Then you have a template that you can use for routing the shelf or whatever to fit exactly.

Cheers
 
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