• We invite you to join UKWorkshop.
    Members can turn off viewing Ads!

Birch plywood bookshelves - Finishing

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

Fern

Member
Joined
16 Aug 2020
Messages
8
Reaction score
1
Location
Maidenhead
Hi all,

I’m looking for some help choosing the right finish for a pair of birch plywood bookshelves.
First time doing a project that will be visible in our home and I’ve not had much experience with oils..

I’ll be integrating the bookshelves into our kitchen, with one to go under an island and a second floor-to-ceiling next to the oven.
They will be used for cookery books and potentially storing things like a kitchenaid and will have toddlers grubby fingers all over them.

I’m planning on using birch plywood B/BB with the end grain exposed and I want to try and preserve the raw light colour and grain of birch, whilst also protecting against those grubby fingers.

Is birch ply a challenge to Oil? Any guides or tips to get a clean finish?
Any products I should use or steer clear of? (OSMO’s polyx-oil, Liberon Finishing oil, danish oil)

Any help would be appreciated.
 

thetyreman

Established Member
Joined
4 Mar 2016
Messages
3,130
Reaction score
318
Location
North West
never use oil on shelves that have books on them, the smell will penetrate into the pages, I'd only use something like de-waxed shellac or wiping varnish, I think it always improves the look with a layer of de-waxed shellac as a sanding sealer even when varnishing, especially under water based varnishes which can look cold without it.
 

Jake

Established Member
Joined
5 Apr 2004
Messages
5,243
Reaction score
119
Location
London
I'd just go for water-based if you want to keep the light raw colour, even then it will yellow/amber with time as the timber itself does.
 

sunnybob

wysiwyg
Joined
11 Oct 2014
Messages
8,399
Reaction score
162
Location
cyprus
Shellac is an extremely hard wearing finish for birch ply.
I made some corner shelves of birch and applied three coats of blonde shellac. It gives a nice warm tone but does not shine or affect anything. I use this shelf for a laptop, and am amazed that over 4 months worth of my hand and the mouse sliding around a small area has not marked it in any way.

I will take a couple of pics in a while.
 

Fern

Member
Joined
16 Aug 2020
Messages
8
Reaction score
1
Location
Maidenhead
Thanks all!

I've always found choosing the right finish daunting as it's so easy to muck it up..

So should I be doing 3 layers of
Blonde Dewaxed Shellac Flakes mixed 1:4 with methylated spirits?

Only one side will be seen for the most part but I assume it needs to be applied both sides for stability?
Anything else?
 

sunnybob

wysiwyg
Joined
11 Oct 2014
Messages
8,399
Reaction score
162
Location
cyprus
Hey! I havent even taken the pics yet! (lol)
I put one coat on the underside, and then waited till each top coat dried (not very long at all in hot weather, before deciding whether to add another.

Give me 10 minutes.........
 

sunnybob

wysiwyg
Joined
11 Oct 2014
Messages
8,399
Reaction score
162
Location
cyprus
excuse the camera shake, but I think you can see the overall effect. Factor in that the right side has had my sweaty hand and the plastic pads of a mouse scraping around I am absolutely amazed how well its worn
IMG_2981.JPG
 

Fern

Member
Joined
16 Aug 2020
Messages
8
Reaction score
1
Location
Maidenhead
Thanks Sunnybob,

looks like it’s relatively matt, draws the grain out well, and will hold up nicely.

I'm excited to get started. Got some time off next week for this project.

Last question for now, any ideas on the coverage 250g mixed with 1l of meths would do? (Assuming that is the right ratio)
Ive got a surface area of roughly two and a half 8’x4‘ sheets to do.
 

sunnybob

wysiwyg
Joined
11 Oct 2014
Messages
8,399
Reaction score
162
Location
cyprus
Whoa mule! thats enough to coat the empire state building! :oops:
I use a litre of meths in about a year,
I use a small jam jar with a good screw lid, A couple good pinches of shellac flakes and about an inch of meths. You might want to double that if youre doing a lot, but it really goes a long way. Once its in the jar, shake it well. Keep coming back to the jar and shaking every once in a while until there are no more flakes to be dissolved. Its not instant, I find It takes a day to dissolve fully. If you see you dont have enough, just mix up a second batch, but take care to not run out half way across a board.
The real beauty of shellac is that its so easy to apply. I just wipe it on with a small piece of clean rag. keep wiping until there is no more liquid on the wood. Then walk away. Drying time is completely dependant on temperature. Here in Cyprus, at this time of year, its drying before I've finished a coat.:cool:. Its sticky, so I wear throw away gloves when applying, although you can just use washing up liquid to free up your fingers afterwards..
DO NOT force a second coat too quickly. if its sticky to the touch, leave it alone till its dry.
If you have some left over, just close the jar lid. I have found it lasts for several weeks, even in my temps.
 

Fern

Member
Joined
16 Aug 2020
Messages
8
Reaction score
1
Location
Maidenhead
Good to know that’ll last me through a fair few projects then!
Next up after this, with all the working from home, I’ve decided my desk needs an upgrade from a pair of sawhorses and a sheet of plywood laid over the top to a nice solid walnut desk.

Thanks for the tips sunnybob.
 

Fern

Member
Joined
16 Aug 2020
Messages
8
Reaction score
1
Location
Maidenhead
Mixed some Liberon blonde dewaxed shellac with meths to the ratio it described in the packet. Shaken the jar every few hours.
should there be any solid residue left?

About 50% of the shellac has dissolved, but the remainder has merged together into a large block of shellac in the jar..
 

thetyreman

Established Member
Joined
4 Mar 2016
Messages
3,130
Reaction score
318
Location
North West
Mixed some Liberon blonde dewaxed shellac with meths to the ratio it described in the packet. Shaken the jar every few hours.
should there be any solid residue left?

About 50% of the shellac has dissolved, but the remainder has merged together into a large block of shellac in the jar..
that sounds about right, for the first hour I shake it every 10 minutes or so for a good full minute, then the next few hours every 30 minutes, usually by about 3-4 hours there are no more visible flakes, if there are just get a clean piece of wood and stir it so its unstuck, if you just leave it 24 hours it should dissolve anyway, I usually wait 24 hours before first using it.
 

sunnybob

wysiwyg
Joined
11 Oct 2014
Messages
8,399
Reaction score
162
Location
cyprus
If there is un-dissolved shellac, then you have reached saturation point of the meths in the jar. If the colour is suitable, use it and then add more meths to to dissolve whats left. If its too dark just add more meths and shake again. Make a note of the proportions you used and adjust the next time so that you get the colour you want without any gunk in the bottom of the jar. Throwing away perfectly good and costly shellac is wasteful.
 

Fern

Member
Joined
16 Aug 2020
Messages
8
Reaction score
1
Location
Maidenhead
Thanks both,
I'm going to test it on some offcuts today and if required dilute accordingly.

This project plus the next two I'm just starting prep have a surface area of roughly 140 sq ft.

The pack said 250g to 1 litre of meths.
This website gave me a surface coverage: "For general woodworking, like cabinetry, bookcases, tables,
chairs, and so on, 1 lb. of shellac in 1/2 gallon denatured alcohol

(a two pound cut) will easily cover 160 - 200 sq. ft."

So given the surface area to cover over the next few weeks I took that ratio and mixed 100g to 400ml of meths..
Probably a mistake to mix that much given what you said Sunnybob, but I figured as a starting point I should follow the packet instructions..

Felt like a lot.. But I figured that it would be best to complete all coats of the entire bookshelves & desk with the same ratios.
 

sunnybob

wysiwyg
Joined
11 Oct 2014
Messages
8,399
Reaction score
162
Location
cyprus
I have never coated that much in one go. The good thing about it is if you have made too much for the first coat it will keep in a screw top jar for weeks.
Good luck. :cool:
 

skood1

New member
Joined
5 Sep 2019
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
Location
Queenstown
Hi all,

I’m looking for some help choosing the right finish for a pair of birch plywood bookshelves.
First time doing a project that will be visible in our home and I’ve not had much experience with oils..

I’ll be integrating the bookshelves into our kitchen, with one to go under an island and a second floor-to-ceiling next to the oven.
They will be used for cookery books and potentially storing things like a kitchenaid and will have toddlers grubby fingers all over them.

I’m planning on using birch plywood B/BB with the end grain exposed and I want to try and preserve the raw light colour and grain of birch, whilst also protecting against those grubby fingers.

Is birch ply a challenge to Oil? Any guides or tips to get a clean finish?
Any products I should use or steer clear of? (OSMO’s polyx-oil, Liberon Finishing oil, danish oil)

Any help would be appreciated.
I make a fair bit of furniture using birch plywood. My recommendation is to use osmo prolyx... Easy to apply, eco friendly and food-safe. If you want the shelves not to yellow, apply a first coat of osmo prolyx Raw. Your second coat can either be another coat of Raw if you want a blonder l look, or one of the other prolyx products.... We use the Prolyx semi-mat over raw when not using two coats of raw. A light sand between coats and you'll have a silky finish that's very hard wearing. And saliva proof of your toddler is going to be goobering on it! There some good photos of our products that show the finish at www.thecusp.nz or the photo attached is of a so fitout we're doing at the moment that's entirely birch plywood finished this way
 

Attachments

profchris

Established Member
Joined
14 Jun 2015
Messages
855
Reaction score
95
Location
Suffolk
100g will have made a big blob, which will be slow to dissolve. Give it a good stir to break up the blob, then leave it a few hours longer.

Like Bob I'm dissolving a few grams each time, thus small blobs and quicker dissolving.

If it's any help, around 10g of shellac will put a dozen coats on a guitar.
 

Fern

Member
Joined
16 Aug 2020
Messages
8
Reaction score
1
Location
Maidenhead
Nice skood1, particularly love the moulin side table, my wife and I had been toying with a similar style as a stool

ProfChris, good know I've definitely overcooked it.
I've tested the colour/finish I'm getting with the current dissolved ratio so I'm going to finish this piece with the current mix leaving the blob in place and then will work on blob for the next piece..
Many lessons learnt.
 
Top