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Community and Q&A

Closet and pantry shelves – no/low VOC material

user-894335 | Posted in Green Products and Materials on

I am looking for materials to build closet shelves. The biggest wood board I can find is 11 1/4″ deep which is not deep enough for closet shelves. I can use those for high pantry shelves.

For plywood, the only low VOC plywood I found is Columbia Forest PureBond plywood. If I use PureBond, what low VOC edging material can I use to cover up the edge?

Any other options?


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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    Buy a bottle of white glue and glue two boards together -- now you are up to 22.5 inches. (Get some pipe clamps if you don't have any...)

  2. gusfhb | | #2

    I like poplar. it is stiffer than pine and not much more money. You cannot reach to the back of a really deep shelf anyway. so 20 inches is the max really

    Save money on the hardware and use wood screwed to the walls instead of adjustable shelf standards. gallon jugs, 2 liter pepsi, and Cap'n Crunch are a predictable size.

  3. Expert Member

    You don't say what size the spaces are but if you have a bit of flexibility I'd recommend these metal shelving units. They are used extensively in restaurants and commercial kitchens. I have them in my pantry, closets and shed. They are $99.00, which is cheaper than even the shoddiest materials you could buy and involve no labour.

  4. user-659915 | | #4

    Edge the plywood with a 1/4" rip of 1 x white pine. Pin & glue.

  5. user-894335 | | #5

    Since both Martin and James recommended using glue. The next question is what type of glue would work well without off gas VOC? I assume you don't mean regular household Elmer's white glue.

    Regarding polar board, the local lumber yard does not have anything bigger than 11 1/4".

    BTW, I found another option. Using IKEA cabinet doors as the board for building shelves - they have 18" wide doors and I plan to ask my contractor if he can cut it down to make 15" deep shelves. shelves. I am not sure if he would go for that.

  6. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #6

    If you glue two boards together with regular household Elmer's glue, the bond will be stronger than the bond between the wood fibers. Once the glue is dry, the wood is more likely to split between the wood fibers than at the glue joint.

  7. gusfhb | | #7

    Boy, Malcolm has a point. in poplar it would run you at least 28 bucks per 4 foot shelf, without supports. Not many VOCs from chrome[least not in your house]

  8. user-659915 | | #8
    Elmer's glue has a VOC rating of 11g/litre and you will use about .001litre of glue per shelf, so releasing about .01g of VOC. Most people would consider this an insignificant amount but you may well be able to find a lower VOC rated wood glue if you try. For comparison, typical household paints run 50 -150 g/litre and will release up to 1 kg of VOC when painting an average room. Unless I've got my math seriously wrong that's about a million times as much.

  9. Expert Member

    As James said - and the VOCs released by the glue are very much front end loaded so that by the time the shelf is installed most have already dissipated.

  10. Siffe | | #10

    Rian, check out Titebond. We had it used on an island and laminate countertops. 5.5g/l VOC.

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