I've never done any woodwork in my life but I wanted to try.

I thought about making a simple shelf consisting of a few small crate-like boxes (Each box being 60cm in Length, 15cm in Width and 20cm in Height and the shelf itself would be about 120cm tall, or 6-crates tall) and was think about having a 2cmX2cm long vertical square "pole" at the corners and a 1cmx2cm rail instead of a full side for each crate that would meet at the corners in a channel carved in the poles and touch in a 45º edge to the other rail of a corner. Something like this:

enter image description here

(Left to Right: 2cmX2cm pole with the 2cmX1cm channel cut through, the side rails in place, topside view of the join area ignoring the rest of the pole that would be on top of the joint)

My Idea for each crate would be something like this: enter image description here

(Top-down and Side views of each crate, respectively)

I'd like to know if I use solid wood for the poles and plywood for the rails and bottom of each crate, in the dimensions mentioned, would it be strong enough? Do I need thicker plywood/wood for the structure to be able to hold?

I imagine this can be hard to predict, but I hoped someone experienced would have a better view on that and maybe point some obvious mistake I can't see.

Thank you very much for the attention!

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    This might be a bit too broad for SE sites, as you are asking a lot of related questions, and any answer is likely to be incomplete. That is, with what you have given here, the answer to the question in the title is "probably, yes". But then there are a whole bunch of related questions that might change that... It'll be hard to give you a full and complete answer.
    – user5572
    Feb 26, 2019 at 15:30
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    @MartinBonner I'm not sure I understand what you mean. I'm talking about a question that has over 3 semi-related questions, many of which impact each other. I know WW.SE is more forgiving of such questions but it will be hard to come up with one comprehensive answer that isn't an essay with lots of caveats. Like, just considering what to say about the choice of 2x2cm "poles" is an answer in itself. Most wood poles of that size will end up being twisted hockey sticks over time in any reasonable situation.
    – user5572
    Feb 26, 2019 at 15:49
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    Like, I really want the answer to be "let's redesign most of this based on what you want it to look like, and how you expect it to be used over time". For example, maybe a light frame of round hardwood poles with pegs or pins that allow a number of box-shelves to be placed along the length like bookshelves? Then the boxes can be moved as needed, and build for stiffness and material without have to worry about them being part of the overall construction. But, of course, this does not answer any of the questions here.
    – user5572
    Feb 26, 2019 at 15:53
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    I've just had a look at the revision history for the Question and see what you want this for, light duty in the kitchen. Given that 6mm plywood will be absolutely fine. You could even go thinner and get away with it — I would have no hesitation in building something like this using 3mm hardboard for the bottom!
    – Graphus
    Feb 27, 2019 at 8:19
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    The idea was to use 2cm solid wood for the poles and 1cm plywood for the rails and bottom. Since I never done any work with wood ever I wouldn't know if something like this would hold, especially having a tall structure. The motivation to use thinner plywood comes from the limitation of space I have on where I plan to place the finished shelf, as I have a tight constraint on width, each cm in thickness on the sides of the boxes would "eat" away the inside space since the finished box cannot exceed 17cm. Thank you very much for your kind comments, Charlie Kilian, Graphus, jdv and Martin Bonner. Feb 27, 2019 at 15:57

1 Answer 1


I am not sure of the metric sizes but 1/4" baltic birch* ply with a frame of 3/4" x 1 1/2" of a construction grade wood has worked for me on a crate about 24" x 12" x 5" was shipped several times. Sorry for the imperial measurements we should in the US have gone metric many years ago.

*lauan plywood will also work although not nearly as durable

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