Solid wood edging on plywood shelves?

Q:

I am using solid poplar strips to edge some 3/4" baltic birch plywood shelves that are about 18" deep by 4' long. I would prefer to glue and brad-nail the the strip to the edges of the plywood. However; I have heard that due to seasonal contraction and expansion, I should avoid using glue, and use only brad nails to allow the solid polar edge to "float"?

A:
I've never had a problem gluing edging on plywood. If you were using solid wood it would be trouble to glue across the grain, but plywood is made to be dimensionally stable. Each ply is layered against the grain of the ones above it. That means that any movement is offset layer by layer resulting in a stable board.

You will get some movement from the strips of poplar, but it will mostly be in the direction that is free to move. You are only gluing one edge, so the wood can move "around" that glued portion.

What you might find is that if you start with your poplar perfectly flush with your plywood that over the years it will sometimes be slightly raised and sometimes be slightly lower. However, even that isn't going to be a real issue because the top layer of the ply will also react slightly to moisture changes, so you might well not have any trouble there either.

So, that's a long way of saying don't worry about it. Glue and nail away.....


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