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I have some adjustable wall shelves I am installing on my wall. I am using the double slotted standards and adjustable brackets. See photo of the wall standards in place. After pricing out solid walnut I learned it would cost me well over $1,500 just for solid walnut for five 1" thick boards that are 12" deep and 84" long. If I buy melamine at the dimensions I need it will cost me $90 and I can buy two 4'x8' veneer sheets of walnut for just over $200.

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I thought about buying a 4'x8' piece of birch plywood that I can rip into 12" wide planks and then I'd attach my walnut veneer onto the birchwood. But there isn't any in stock at my local store. But they have melamine shelving in the exact dimensions I am looking for available which sounds a lot easier and works out to be a few dollars cheaper than buying a 4'x8' piece of birch plywood.

Is there a process to prime melamine to accept a wood veneer? Such as sanding and priming? If so, what are the step? From my reading online I learned that it's best to remove the melamine material but if that's the case I see no point in going that route.

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    Can it be glued? - yes. Will it stay glued? - dubious. Note that you can buy narrower boards that may cost a lot less (or not, lumber prices are nuts) and glue them together, rather than buying more expensive (normally) 12" wide boards. Or you could buy MDF rather than birch ply (though birch ply is better) which would probably be the same stuff your melamine is glued onto.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jun 10, 2022 at 17:27
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    Lots of questions here: How thick is the walnut veneer? Is it an actual wood product or a laminate? If you go with the melamine, you should lightly sand it (rough it up a bit) to remove any sheen and give the adhesive something to grab onto. Depending upon what you're planning to put on the shelves, it seems as if you have pretty good support now. If I were doing this, I'd get 3/4 MDF glue down the veneer and then trim it with a 1" piece of walnut to give it a robust look. In either case, what do you plan on doing on the bottom side of the shelves? paint? Jun 10, 2022 at 17:30
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    You'll want to veneer both sides to keep the shelf stable, ideally. Treat both sides exactly the same (veneer, number of coats of finish, etc.) or there's usually problems with the board moving with moisture changes.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jun 10, 2022 at 17:40
  • Here is the veneer I purchased: amazon.com/gp/product/B0009V6URC/… I planned on doing the entire board in the veneer (all sides covered). Looks like MDF is the recommended suggestion. I guess I'll go with that option. Thank you, all.
    – Adrien
    Jun 10, 2022 at 18:43
  • As you notice the "melamine" feels like greasy material. So glueing to it is always a challenge.
    – Traveler
    Jun 10, 2022 at 19:08

2 Answers 2

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Melamine sheetstock has a shiny plastic skin that won't accept glue or contact cement. You'd have to sand down the glossy surface until it's all matte. Then the glue/cement will stick.

You'll do better getting basic particleboard or flakeboard sheetstock. That can accept glued veneers without needing surface prep.

Even better, get pre-veneered Walnut sheetstock. You might need to go to a cabinetmaker to get 1" Walnut veneer sheetstock. It is available (or was when I was working in a cabinetmaker shop a few years ago). Such material will cost, not nearly $1500, maybe a bit more than the veneer and stock you have now, but it's already veneered, and time is money too.

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  • @ Triplefault -This was a great suggestion! Thank you! I found what you recommended at a big box store. I could buy three of these and it'll cost me less basically a third of the $1500 figure I threw around earlier. Plus, the ad says they'll do custom cuts for me for free so I could buy three of these and just have them cut them in half length-wise to my specifications: homedepot.com/p/…
    – Adrien
    Jun 11, 2022 at 22:12
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    Glad you found somethin that will work, @Adrien! Walnut iron-on edgebanding can be purchased, too, that will give a finished look to that raw ply edge. Jun 12, 2022 at 13:09
  • @ Triplefault - Thank you! I will look for it.
    – Adrien
    Jun 12, 2022 at 13:15
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Yes you can certainly glue, but know the challenges.

Glueing thin foil to a board was always challenge for me.

I could newer get it perfectly straight on it, so it had to be bigger, so I can trim the edges.

Beside properly preparing the surface, the poly coated boards are nightmare. They feel like teflon, and nothing sticks to teflon.

Apply pressure with hard rubber roller during glue curing.

Overall it takes skill and experience, so start practicing.

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