Fat Shelf Concepts

Construction ideas for thick torsion-box shelves. January 24, 2006

My customer wants 2" to 3" thick shelving, somewhat like in the image below. The top and bottom of the shelf is flush with the faceframe. I'm not sure how these are constructed. Should I use 1/4" plywood over a frame like a torsion box, or thicker plywood? It seems like too much work. What's the best way to make something like this?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor H:
I have done this using 1/2 " ply and box.

From contributor T:
Have you thought about veneering some built up mdf?

From contributor R:
I would suggest trying quick-n-qleen, vbag or press half inch skins over two inch eps. They are light, strong and fast.

From contributor P:
There a couple of problems with MDF - at 3 inches thick it is going to get darned heavy, and if you make the shelves longer than about 36 inches it will have a tendency to develop a droop over time (at least 32mm/ 1-1/4in stuff does). An MDF torsion box with a 9mm (3/8in) skin and 19mm (3/4in) faces will be a lot lighter, more rigid and less expensive.