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Hi, we are having a giant bookshelf built with 2 built in desks for the kids in our dining area. Money is tight but I really do not want to use MDF! Any ideas on cheaper wood we can use and would we need to varnish it? I like the look of natural wood. If I must varnish, any ideas on what to use that is safe? Its a big amount to varnish so again may affect cost.
All ideas welcome:)

To dare is to lose ones footing temporarily, to not dare is to lose oneself.

LETS number 137

If you don’t treat it at all it will quickly look scuffed and marked. We like Briwax because it enhances the wood and protects it, it comes in shades from clear right through to dark. Or Osmo, which is like a liquid wax and is eco, also comes in lots of colours and is easy to apply.

We used Ecos (, though quite pricey and you need lots of coats; it’s water based; they have clear too. There’s also Auro ( As for wood, we buy planks of pine from Homebase. You could ask around, some builders might have some left over planks of wood. Or you could ask on Freegle or Freecycle. We gave away wood and the Auro varnish we didn’t need, so it’s worth asking.

Attachment and travelling mama, home educating Toby, 17.02.2012. Vegs. Neither telly nor car. Brompton bikes. Live in Reading, Berkshire.
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Thanks for the ideas:) Great I will look into that. I also had a thought that I could look at the local reclamation yard.

To dare is to lose ones footing temporarily, to not dare is to lose oneself.

LETS number 137

Reclamation yards tend to charge higher prices now,thanks to certain tv progs! i second builders yards,we used to get loads of fire wood when dhs firm shared a yard with a builder as they have to pay to get rid of it,there was often,good wood,cut wrong or slightly marked that they couldnt use,we kept for home projects.also,if you dont mind a bit of extra work,breaking them up and sanding,there are lots of free pallets around industrial sites,dh picks up 6 to 10 a week for the fire,a company just leave them near the gate for free collection xx

LETS no42

We’ve found timber merchants cheaper than diy stores and with better quality wood (diy stores often have bowed or twisted pieces ime). I prefer waxing wood to varnishing personally as I don’t like the sheen of varnish and with waxed wood you can easily sand down scratches and rewax just that bit. I second briwax, you can use it for most things. An alternative would be bees wax but I think that can be a bit more expensive.

Mummy to 4 little pixies: Seren (feb 08), Merri (may 09), Nerys (june 11) & Lyra (April 13) My sister’s amazing bead shop

Great ideas/advice, thanks:)

To dare is to lose ones footing temporarily, to not dare is to lose oneself.

LETS number 137

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