+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 9 of 9
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Posts
    4

    Default Recommended wood for living room built-in bookcase and cabinet

    We are renovating our house and I have asked the contractor for custom built-in bookcase and shelves in our living room. Our designer recommends paint grade maple, our contractor says it will be hard to find 18" maple (which will be needed for sides of middle of bookcase). I grew up in CT and am accustom to cabinet makers using the best quality products. I didn't pick this guy, my boyfriend did, I don't want him to make our built-in cabinet, but after 1 year and 2 months its that last thing he needs to do and then I never have to see him again EVER. He used poplar wood for our wainscoting, after I told him numerous times to use oak or an oak veneered plywood, so I am less then impressed. After we move in I am going to have the wainscoting redone by someone else. But, the bookcase has not been built yet, so I just want to make sure the right wood is going to be used, at the very least, because I can't really afford to redo that again just so we are polite.

    We will be painting the bookcase, so I understand it will be paint grade wood. I would very, very much appreciate suggestions on real wood type and grade recommended to use for a real wood built-in bookcase. If I have seen exactly what I want and like in every New England state, NY, NJ, Pennsylvania, I really have a hard time believing it doesn't exist in Illinois or can't be shipped here.

    Thank you very much for your time and suggestions!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    nova scotia, canada
    Posts
    1,522

    Default Re: Recommended wood for living room built-in bookcase and cabinet

    if its going to be painted, poplar is the best choice. its both economical and hard enough to take abuse.. if you go with a diffent hardwood your just throwing money away. as oak and maple are meant to be stained or clear coated. to get a 18" wide shelf good 2 side maple plywood is perfectly fine as it has the smoothest grain pattern..

    most contractor wont give the option of using hardwood if things are being painted. they'll just go straight to mdf as its the most economical
    fire up the saw and make some dust

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Recommended wood for living room built-in bookcase and cabinet

    thank you so much for your reply. I will look at 2 side maple plywood to see if that is what I am use to seeing and what I like. I definitely do not want mdf, and you are 100% right, that is what he showed me today. The product looked like a glossy veneered kitchen cabinet and is exactly what I do not want.

    Thanks for the recommendation, I will go to the old school lumber yard tomorrow and ask them to show me the 2 side maple plywood.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    central pa
    Posts
    98

    Default Re: Recommended wood for living room built-in bookcase and cabinet

    i personally would use maple or birch ply or a high quality mdf trimmed in poplar. mdf gets a bad reputation but it is a good product if it is used proplery. it should not be used if there is any woisture and it doesnt hold fasteners well but it paints beutifully and is the most stable. but ply is usually the better chioce mdo is the best of both it gives you the strenght and fastener hold of ply but has a thin layer of mdf on the surface so it paints like mdf but it is expensive.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Recommended wood for living room built-in bookcase and cabinet

    Thank you for your information. Not being in the industry I can see the difference but don't know all the different grades, types of wood etc. I called the carpenter/cabinetmaker who renovated my parent's house 20 years ago and asked what wood he used. He used furniture grade wood. Finally! Now I get it! There is no comparison in quality, feel and final product look. I understand there are tons of other options that rely on the painter doing his magic to make the wood look like something it is not. I have been telling my contractor over and over again I want real wood, now I have the term to speak in his language. I don't care if other people think it is a waste, if I am willing to pay for a traditional, solid wood built-in cabinet and that is what I want as the customer, I don't understand why I have to have plywood, poplar or manufactured stuff.

    I've decided to put the project off until the contractor is out of our house and have a real cabinetmaker make the built-in for me using furniture grade wood.. Thank you for your help and information.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    nova scotia, canada
    Posts
    1,522

    Default Re: Recommended wood for living room built-in bookcase and cabinet

    you can still get cabinets made of real wood but your going to pay through your teeth. most cabinets today are made of melamine with a hardwood veneer.. high end cabinets are made of good two side plywood and the doors are made from solid wood. the cost difference is about 3x more though
    fire up the saw and make some dust

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Recommended wood for living room built-in bookcase and cabinet

    Thank you and I do understand the cost difference, but I also understand the quality difference too. There is no comparison.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    central pa
    Posts
    98

    Default Re: Recommended wood for living room built-in bookcase and cabinet

    actually plywood is better than solid in many ways. most of the time i will try to talk a customer out of using solid wood for the body of the cabinet because it is unstable it expands and contracts allot it warps it cracks. Now a good cabinetmaker can minimise the risk of all those things but with solid wood the chance is always there. with high quality plywood there is very liitle risk of any of those things. Also a large percentage of highend furniture and cabinetry is made with plywood bodies and just about everything used plywood shelves. there is just no reason to do otherwise unless you want raised panels on the sides of you book case. Also poplar is the choice for most cabinetmakers for paint grade stuff because it is the best wood for the job not just because it is cheaper. it is still a hard wood machines beautifully is very stable has no tannins to blead through paint and has a nice almost closed grain that paints beautifully. if you want to pay for a completly solid maple cabinet go ahead but you will probably not be getting a superior product at all just paying more.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    1,195

    Default Re: Recommended wood for living room built-in bookcase and cabinet

    15" wide side panels sounds like a job for plywood. If this was to be clear finish, then the top-drawer material would be a veneered lumber-core stock. But for paint work, plywood is in many ways better than solid wood because it's not going to be prone to humidity-cycle shrinking and swelling. In cabinetry, stability is evrything.
    If you used raised panel and frame construction, you could keep the panel size reasonable, but that is a different look and more pieces and steps. But it can be very stable. Since I don't have drawings in front of me, very hard to say.
    Casey
    Remove not the ancient landmark, which your fathers have set.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •