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James555

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I'm making a simple bookcase out of 22mm MDF.
I would like to avoid screwing into the sides, for aesthetics, and wonder if dominoes and glue would suffice.
If going in an alcove i'd screw for sure, but this is freestanding.
Cheers.
 

robgul

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I would suggest that it depends on the size (especially width of the shelves) and whether there is a back in the bookcase to keep it together and square - and subject to the finish (paint?) could you cut rebates for the shelves to sit in rather than dominoes? - if the material is 22mm that should work.
 

James555

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Hi.
Will be a painted finish.
900mm wide, 300mm deep.
No back.
Did think about rebates but keen to avoid if possible.
 

TheTiddles

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There’s no way that’ll work well unless you have significant drop edges on the shelves or make them as torsion boxes or also fasten into a backboard whatever fastening you use into the sides you’ll have sagging shelves and they will pull the joints apart. If you’re painting you should be able hide any fastenings used
Aidan
 

Droogs

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i would suggest you watch Peter Millards current video series on 10 minute workshop
 

petermillard

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Yes, dominos will be fine for that, well glued and clamped. But as others have said, 22mm MR at that span with no back support - I wouldn’t personally. Step it up to 25mm shelves, and add a solid timber lipping front and back, and you should be OK, but I’d test it first. Any particular reason why there’s no back?
 

robgul

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. . . as an alternative to an overall back panel what might look quite good is for each shelf to have a low back, say 1/3 of the height of the shelf space, which would a) stop books falling through the shelves, and b) if fixed to the shelves and the sides afford some strength and stability. The public library (remember them?!) where I used to live had free-standing shelving like that - although it was made in oak!
 

James555

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Thanks all.
I did run the dimensions through the sagulator website, but you cant beat 'real world' experience.
There's no back as it will be in front of a 'feature wall'.
Beefing it up to 25mm + lipping might be prudent.
I like the idea of the low back, but going for very clean lines......and ideally no sag!
 

johnnyb

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mdf is just a cheap and nasty fill material. use 18mm birch ply but wood... real honest to goodness timber is best.
 

robgul

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mdf is just a cheap and nasty fill material. use 18mm birch ply but wood... real honest to goodness timber is best.
Agreed - but @petermillard may have some comments! - it's horses for courses . . . if it's painted then the saving on cost for MDF against Birch ply is worthy of consideration (having tested other ply qualities anything less than Birch is not great for furniture in my view)
 

johnnyb

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I even find the flat lifeless surface of mdf to be unpleasant to look at. if im painting i like Ash veneered mdf. but as a woodworker I'm interested in working wood. but as an amateur I wouldn't use it unless there were no alternatives. It raises as many issues as it solves
 

Droogs

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For us in the UK where we don't have particularly large humidity swings through the year and nearly all homes have central heating of some sort, the practical reality is that MDF/Ply are the best option for making most of the furniture items we need. Also the fact that we are increasingly aware of our ecological impact on our environment MDF faced with veneer gives us the best use of resources.
As many of the things I normally make (when I am fit enough to work properly) also involve housing internal components that can and do generate a lot of very dry heat when being used, as much as I would love to make things "properly" with deal and as much solid wood and accents with veneer as I could, availability, cost, practicality and a desire for a livable profit mean that is just not possible. So the solution is to use MDF for the lower cost items and properly decent furniture grade ply for the top end.
As I put a final veneer surface on nearly everything I make (either a solid field or a marquetry image) I just buy un-veneered MRMDF and if possible create a lipping of the wood the final veneer will be, usually 20mm deep, on each component part that is applied to the edge before the final finish veneer is put on and take the time to get the join as invisible as possible to prevent telegraphing of any kind and then once done, any edge detailing is put on. For ply I still buy the highest grade I can with the best face surface even though it won't be seen but makes a massive difference once the final veneer is applied. Each component made out of a man-made material is cut to size taking the lippings application into consideration and only becomes a completed part after the lipping is applied and worked. By this I mean the edge lipped part is treated as if it is a solid timber once the lip is on. This gives me the best stability factor and allows the use of traditional tools without too much wear on them that is normally caused when working sheet goods etc.

So MDF and Ply do not need to be featureless characterless material if used with a bit of aforethought. Of course my way of working means you need to do a lot of veneering yourself but hey the core material is much cheaper and you get the exact final effect you want by putting on your own veneer.

edit typos
 
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robgul

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I'm in an "exposed plywood edge" phase of furniture making . . . so far a dining table, a matching console table and a storage unit to sit beside our coffee machine - a 4 drawer chest is in the design stage.
 

TheUnicorn

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i don't like mdf much, but that aside, I'd run a rebate side to side across the width of the shelves (underside) , into which I'd glue a batten of wood, side on so the thickest side of the wood is running vertically, essentially making a t cross section, that should do something to minimise the inevitable sag on the shelves. as far as joints I'd be looking to dowels or domnoes if you don't like the idea of rebates on the side
 

johnnyb

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its going to be painted so use wood or ply and screw it together then fill.totally invisible. use biscuits as locators if you want. I've made bookcases with wedged through tenoned housing joints in solid.
 

hedgelayer

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For us in the UK where we don't have particularly large humidity swings through the year and nearly all homes have central heating of some sort, the practical reality is that MDF/Ply are the best option for making most of the furniture items we need. Also the fact that we are increasingly aware of our ecological impact on our environment MDF faced with veneer gives us the best use of resources.
As many of the things I normally make (when I am fit enough to work properly) also involve housing internal components that can and do generate a lot of very dry heat when being used, as much as I would love to make things "properly" with deal and as much solid wood and accents with veneer as I could, availability, cost, practicality and a desire for a livable profit mean that is just not possible. So the solution is to use MDF for the lower cost items and properly decent furniture grade ply for the top end.
As I put a final veneer surface on nearly everything I make (either a solid field or a marquetry image) I just buy un-veneered MRMDF and if possible create a lipping of the wood the final veneer will be, usually 20mm deep, on each component part that is applied to the edge before the final finish veneer is put on and take the time to get the join as invisible as possible to prevent telegraphing of any kind and then once done, any edge detailing is put on. For ply I still buy the highest grade I can with the best face surface even though it won't be seen but makes a massive difference once the final veneer is applied. Each component made out of a man-made material is cut to size taking the lippings application into consideration and only becomes a completed part after the lipping is applied and worked. By this I mean the edge lipped part is treated as if it is a solid timber once the lip is on. This gives me the best stability factor and allows the use of traditional tools without too much wear on them that is normally caused when working sheet goods etc.

So MDF and Ply do not need to be featureless characterless material if used with a bit of aforethought. Of course my way of working means you need to do a lot of veneering yourself but hey the core material is much cheaper and you get the exact final effect you want by putting on your own veneer.

edit typos
I like what you say Droogs but I've never done any veneering. Have you got any tips/pointers as to how to get started on that ? (eg Veneer suppliers, method, tools, veneer press etc)
 

Jacob

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....... Also the fact that we are increasingly aware of our ecological impact on our environment MDF faced with veneer gives us the best use of resources.
........
Not really. MDF and Ply are not durable - things made with them are likely to end up as landfill or firewood quite quickly and hence increase our carbon footprint. Also energy is taken up manufacturing them. Burning or landfill degradation release CO2, formaldehydes from the glue, dust and ash into the atmosphere. IKEA worst in this respect - the lifespan of their products can be very short.
Whereas solid timber items last indefinitely, given good design/construction, reasonable care and maintenance, and they effectively sequester carbon for the duration.
A climate change policy should include something like the wartime utility standards where furniture was made to a high standard, to lengthen the life cycle and reduce material consumption. Now we have the added imperative; to sequester carbon.
 
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