Ideas on plywood backing a custom built-in slightly wider than 48"

  • Advertise with us

« back to Designing Woodworking Projects forum

Forum topic by mahone posted 03-16-2018 06:38 PM 674 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View mahone's profile


5 posts in 847 days

03-16-2018 06:38 PM

Topic tags/keywords: cabinetry tips plywood back question

Hello All, I have a custom fully recessed builtin entertainment center that is 54” wide by 105” tall. The internal width between carcass sides needs to be greater than 51” to fit the customer’s TV. Normally when I build out cabinetry, everything is sized to fit standard sheet good sizes, but this one has me pondering how to apply the plywood back.

I feel that aesthetically this taller unit would benefit in keeping the plywood back vertical in orientation, but then I am short on width. I thought about running some 1.5” to 2” trim in the back corners of the unit as filler strips to make up the gap, but obviously this adds overall complexity with the horizontal shelving assuming I want recess the back panel.

I have run plywood backs horizontal on larger openings say 6 or 8’ ft wide by 40 to 48” tall (i.e. flat screen wall mounts) on larger built ins, and while running sheets horizontal here would be easier, I am not sure it is visually appealing.

Just thought I would check with those in this forum to see if any have run into this, and what methods/tips they applied.

NOTE: Plywood back is birch veneer.


-- Jesse, Texas, Willow Creek WoodWorking

10 replies so far

View bilyo's profile


1112 posts in 1878 days

#1 posted 03-16-2018 07:10 PM

This will be the back panel. Will it really be seen enough to make much difference?
It occurs to me that horizontal orientation might be better if the seams can be placed such that they will be hidden or obscured by the shelving. Otherwise, I would check if you can get the ply you are using in 10 lengths and then use two pieces with a middle seam. if you use a faux beadboard panel, the seams will not be obvious. Having said that, I think the corner moldings would also be a workable idea. I wouldn’t be concerned about trimming the shelf corners to fit. Again, that won’t be very visible anyway.

View 000's profile


2859 posts in 1674 days

#2 posted 03-16-2018 07:18 PM

I’ve done it a few different ways.
Glue equal size pieces of hardwood to each side, gives it a custom framed look. (down the sides)

Added a piece of hardwood just down the center with plywood on each side.

Also have glued a piece of plywood to the plywood edge to make it wider.
(need to be very accurate with getting faces flush) don’t want to sand through the veneer, it’s doable
And try to match up grain so that it’s not noticeable.

Never have liked backs with horizontal grain.

View mahone's profile


5 posts in 847 days

#3 posted 03-16-2018 08:51 PM

Thanks bilyo and jbay. All good ideas, and inline with my thoughts as well. I originally was thinking of the hardwood just down the center also, but was worried about the visual aspect. You’re right though that once it is filled with TV and other items, perhaps much of it is covered anyways. So perhaps I am overthinking this. The customer just requested lighting to be added so now I may lean toward one of the hardwood options and use it to conceal the wiring. Thanks again


-- Jesse, Texas, Willow Creek WoodWorking

View Kazooman's profile


1492 posts in 2728 days

#4 posted 03-16-2018 09:03 PM

Could you use Baltic birch plywood in 5’ x 5’ sheets? That would solve the width problem, but you would still have horizontal seams

View GR8HUNTER's profile


7570 posts in 1488 days

#5 posted 03-16-2018 09:15 PM

what is height of it ? JUST WHERE TV IS ? :<))

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

View mahone's profile


5 posts in 847 days

#6 posted 03-16-2018 09:22 PM

Tony (gr8hunter), The TV is up about 34” from floor, TV opening is 51” wide by 40” high. There is shelving above opening, and shelving and cabinets below.

-- Jesse, Texas, Willow Creek WoodWorking

View Breeze73's profile


102 posts in 1456 days

#7 posted 03-16-2018 09:28 PM

In that case a 5×5 sheet would do well for the back of the TV cabinet. You could then run the seem in the middle of the lower shelf, just above the TV. But, that doesn’t help you with running wires. If your gonna do the hardwood option, make it look like a faux frame, possibly 1/4” or 3/8” thick rails/stiles. IMO, 3/4” thick rails and stiles would look odd.

-- Breeze

View Kelster58's profile


759 posts in 1315 days

#8 posted 03-16-2018 10:41 PM

I had to build a built in that was 52”wide. I made the back out of 3/4 inch plywood so I could cut dados in the plywood to support shelves. The home owner had very large heavy books to put on the shelves and they didn’t want the shelves to sag. I cut two pieces of plywood and then crafted a lap joint in the plywood sheets to hold them together. I should have tried to book match the pieces better but there is a lot going on there between all the dadoes, grooves, and the lap joint.

-- K. Stone “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” ― Benjamin Franklin

View mahone's profile


5 posts in 847 days

#9 posted 05-28-2018 10:34 PM

Finally getting a chance to post a follow up. I went with a 1/2 inch thick center plate about 4” wide with a ridged round over bevel on the edges. It conceals a channel from top to bottom for any wiring. There are access points in the horizontal shelves to get wires from components to the center if necessary. There are also false backs in all of 3 lowest cavities that can be removed to access a 4+ inch cavity for power strips and such. Carcass is birch, and face is all solid hickory. Not a big fan of staining hickory, but whatever the paying customer wants :-).

Thanks again to those who contributed suggestions.


-- Jesse, Texas, Willow Creek WoodWorking

View clin's profile


1113 posts in 1771 days

#10 posted 05-28-2018 11:51 PM

Looks great. You did a nice job.

-- Clin

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics