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MDF veneered shelf with contrasting lipping?

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Darren D

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I'm very much at the beginners end of the talent spectrum and would like to run an idea by you before I get myself into trouble. I want to make some simple built in bookcases from 18mm maple veneered mdf. To add some interest, I was planning to make the face frame in walnut as a contrast - I've seen this combination a few times and liked it. I visited my local woodyard yesterday and they don't stock walnut but do have sapele instead - in it's rough sawn state it certainly looks like a nice dark wood but it is difficult to visualise the finished piece. I realise this is down to personal opinion but would maple and sapele make a nice combination? I'm happy to hear negative thoughts now as I haven't splashed out yet.

The second issue is less subjective. The bookcase will be around 300mm deep and 800mm tall and we intend to put a TV on the top. To keep costs down I was planning to use veneered mdf for the top of the bookcase too and then lip it with hard wood. I quite like the idea of using contrasting wood for the lipping as well. Is this a bad idea - I'm worried that there will be a very clear line in full view and so any inaccuracies in my work will be plainly visible. Any thoughts?
Darren
 

Freetochat

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As to how the finish would be - I would get and offcut of sapele and make up a sample to see if 'you' like it.

The TV part I think needs more info. If you are going to use 18mm, I would be concerned with sag in the top shelf which would be very noticeable as a view point. This all depends on TV weight/size, and how the shelf is to be strengthened.

This something I am looking at. Was round the electrical retailers measuring TV's and getting weights at the weekend.
 

Scrit

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Hi Darren

Taste is very mush a subjectivething, but I will say that in the Art Deco/machine modern period (late 1920s to early 1940s and a favourite of mine) maple was often combined with either walnut or mahogany/sapele, so its not such an unusual combination. You might consider staining the sapele with a mahogany stain to bring-up the colour and lustre of the wood (and increase the contrast). If you can get hold of a copy from the local library I'd suggest borrowing Herbert Edlin's "What Wood is That?" which has a set of 50 or so actual veneer samples at the front (including maple and sapele). The publisher, Stobart-Davies (
http://www.stobartdavies.com/system/index.html), used to sell these sample kits on their own (without the book) at one time and they are a very useful accoutriment (the book is still available at £18.95). You can also get sapele hot-melt veneer edgebanding from mmany DIY shops to experiment with (staining, etc)

As to lipping in a contrasting wood I see no problem, although personally (and not having seen the design) I'd probably use the same material as your face frame. The best way to deal with a lipping is probably to treat it as a thick edge banding and trim it off with a guide-bearing template bit, then you won't need to worry about inaccuracies so much. One point I will mention is that MDF is not a particularly rigid material and will tend to sag if used in shelves longer than about 550/600mm. If carrying the extra weight of a TV you might like to give this some consideration.

Good luck!

Scrit
 

Darren D

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Thanks Scrit, nice reply. I quite like art deco stuff so if it was good enough for them, that's very reassuring. Nice tip about experimenting with the banding too - sadly I don't have an offcuts box to speak of and was wondering how to get some scraps to play with.
Freetochat - I've had a play with this fantastic Sagulator that someone posted recently and think that if I have a solid top to my bookcase carcass, plus another piece of mdf on top of that, it will hide all the joins between bookcases and give me a 36mm thick surface which, if the sagulator is to be trusted will work out fine (I'm allowing 30kg for the TV).
 

Adam

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Darren D":27ecu5vt said:
Thats excellent! I;n a big fan of contrasting timbers and don't think you will have any problems with the maple and walnut
Adam
 

Darren D

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Scrit":3i3rqxsg said:
If you can get hold of a copy from the local library I'd suggest borrowing Herbert Edlin's "What Wood is That?" which has a set of 50 or so actual veneer samples at the front (including maple and sapele).
Well would you believe it, a quick check on the web and a pop to my local library and I now have a copy of this book in front of me. The samples are great and actually I'm in two minds now. The sapele is redder than I expected and I much prefer the walnut. I might look a little harder into sourcing that instead.
 
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