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Old 07-13-2007, 12:30 PM   #1
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Recommended Wood For Cabinets

Hi! We're in the process of converting one of the twin beds in the back of our Airstream into a desk. We've got the plans all laid out (nothing particularly complicated), and since we've done a bit of woodworking in the house we are going to try to build the desk ourselves. However, I want to know if anyone has suggestions as to WHAT wood would be appropriate to use. When we go to Home Depot or Lowes, we see endless varieties of wood, and have no idea where to begin.

We're going to do the desktop itself in a custom laminate piece, so we only need wood for the body. Basically, wood for vertical supports and a flat surface underneath the desk that will enclose the exterior storage area and provide shelf space.

Obviously it needs to be light and strong. We're also going to paint it, so it needs to be something that can be finished smooth.

I can provide a sketch if needed, but if there are any quick recommendations for this, it would be appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 07-13-2007, 01:11 PM   #2
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wood

I do beleive any type of hard wood plywood would work fine. When we rebuilt our cabinets we used Birch and then lacquered it. You might even be able to use particle board, since your going to paint is. I would use nothing less than 5/8" on the hardwood and 1/2" on the particle board. Thats my opinion. Good luck
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Old 07-13-2007, 01:35 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1953 Flying
I would use nothing less than 5/8" on the hardwood and 1/2" on the particle board. Thats my opinion.
Sorry, but I have to disagree and would suggest staying with 3/16"-1/4" plywood at the most or 1/4"-3/8" solid wood. You don't need to make it super heavy duty, it adds way too much weight. Also, particle board is quite a bit heavier than plywood and not as durable. If you plan to paint it, I would consider a 1/8"-3/16" masonite with 1/4"-3/8" thick frame-type supports.

You don't mention the year of your trailer, but I would suggest looking at the construction of your existing cabinets in designing your new desk and use that as a guideline. You will most likely be surprised how light weight (& sturdy) it really is. I think, most people tend to over do it when remodeling their cabinets...and add unnecessary weight.

Shari
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Old 07-13-2007, 01:38 PM   #4
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Rivet Agreed

Quote:
Originally Posted by InsideOut
Most people tend to over do it when remodeling their cabinets...

Shari
Guilty as charged, the first time.

Go with plywood, it is lighter than particle board and the cabinet grade should paint fine.

Vaughan
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Old 07-13-2007, 04:07 PM   #5
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I suggest using what is called "baltic birch" plywood. It comes in a variety of thicknesses and usually in 5 x 5 foot sheets. It is void free and very durable so you can easily take InsideOut's advice and use thinner rather than thicker sheets. If you are matching wood veneer elsewhere in the trailer, you might be lucky enough to get interior grade plywood with one or two faces with the matching veneer. If that is not possible, you can usually possible buy just the veneer and glue it to the plywood you are otherwise using. Very often, scrimping on the cost of material can be a mistake when you consider all of the time involved in making new cabinets of any sort.
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Old 07-13-2007, 05:23 PM   #6
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You could frame it in 1x2 cedar strips and face it with any plywood you like. My trailer uses cedar for all it's cabinet, wall, and front setee framing. Unbelieveable the weight difference between it and pine.

Steve
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Old 07-13-2007, 05:40 PM   #7
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If your talking about "face frames" use Poplar. It's strong, light and takes paint well. and is mostly clear with no knots. For sides , bottom etc use 1/4" and 1/2" Birch Ply, it also takes paint well. True Cedar will tend to bleed through paint unless primed with "Kilz" first.
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Old 07-13-2007, 05:50 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by craftsman
If your talking about "face frames" use Poplar. It's strong, light and takes paint well. and is mostly clear with no knots. For sides , bottom etc use 1/4" and 1/2" Birch Ply, it also takes paint well. True Cedar will tend to bleed through paint unless primed with "Kilz" first.
I meant frame it with the cedar like studs in a wall, and screw, nail, or glue the plywood facing to it as it is done in my trailer.

Steve
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Old 07-13-2007, 05:51 PM   #9
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Totally agree with Craftsman. Popular is what I used for cupboard frame. Very light weight and clear. Matched a stain to the Ikea doors, two coats of varathane, and turned out great. Pics on my gallery.
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Old 07-13-2007, 06:07 PM   #10
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Steve, that would save some weight.Cedar in very light but strong.
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Old 07-14-2007, 10:05 AM   #11
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Many thanks guys! You've been very helpful... I have looked at the existing construction of our Airstream ('89 Excella) and did realize that the construction was thinner than I expected -- which is why I needed the advice since it looked a tad unfamiliar. Anyways, Thanks! Will post an image of the desk when it's finished...
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Old 07-14-2007, 10:42 AM   #12
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I framed in poplar, used cherry ply 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 depending on its location.

I also used solid cherry in some places, still working on it

I used a wash coat of shellac 80/20 to seal the grain then 5 coats.
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Old 09-05-2007, 07:40 PM   #13
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Wood choice

Does anyone know if Maple is too heavy? Wife wants Maple.
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Old 09-05-2007, 08:00 PM   #14
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This should help weight per 100

Ash, white 3500
Cherry, black 2900
Maple, silver 2750
Maple, sugar 3700
Oak, red 3700
Oak, white 4000
Pine, jack 2500
Pine, yellow (western) 2350
Poplar, yellow (tulip) 2350
Walnut, black 3250
So certain maples are light others are not.
Anything under 3000 is good.
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