Plywood is Great for Storage Shelves and More
Plywood is simply an odd number of layers of wood veneer in sheets bonded together with each layer’s grain running cross-grain to
the layer opposite to to it. Shelf plans will frequently recommend the use of layered plywood for storage or book shelves. The layers may be of hard or soft wood or some
combination, but it is the alternating or crossing the grain the layers that ensures a solid and durable product.
The quality of the outer veneer layer can vary widely from very clear to extremely knotty. The appearance isn’t of much consequence if you are building some shelves for the the garage, but its clarity will be of keen importance if building some shelves for inside your home.
Because of the layering, finishing the edges can be a challenge when using plywood for a bookshelf. See the illustration for a bull nose
finish for plywood shelves which adds not only a nice finish, but also support
for the shelf. Plywood is likely to bow under heavy weight, so where practical, a batten board for support all the way around the shelf will help prevent sagging. A batten board is simply a small board used to hide joints or to shore up a board’s weight bearing capacity as it runs the length of the outside of the board.
Here is a final example of batten boards used for support in pantry shelving which allows for heavy loads of canned foods and for the weight of kitchen appliances and other heavy kitchen utensils. You will note the batten boards in this illustration run the complete length of the shelf to prevent sagging from the weight.
Unlike the bull nose finish, the batten boards form their support underneath the outside edges of the shelf. It is important to stress
theuse of batten boards for shelves which hold considerable weight as compared to the length of the shelf.
A good set of shelf plans will provide instruction as to the purpose of the shelves and the type of shelf support necessary. Without the batten board support, these shelves can eventually sag to the degree the support at each end gives way sending the shelf’s contents down in the process. These heavier objects could pose great danger to anyone in the vicinity.
Safety First, is our motto, which is key when you are building home woodworking projects that require attention to safety. Shelving is certainly one of those kinds of projects. You just never know who might be near or maybe even climbing on the things you built when your back is turned.