Make Great Projects with MDF

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Make Great Projects with MDF
An Affordable Alternative
MDF is sold in large sheets like plywood, but MDF is made differently. While plywood is made from layers of wood veneer, MDF is made from fine wood pulp that gets pressed into sheets. MDF is often made from sawdust generated from other lumber milling operations, which helps keep the price reasonable. A 4x8 sheet of 3/4"-thick MDF sells for about $35, while a sheet of birch plywood may cost $45-$50.

Dense and Durable
MDF shouldn’t be mistaken for particleboard, which is made from coarser particles. MDF is much stronger than particleboard, and a superior material for your projects. Plus, the sheets are very flat, have a consistent thickness, and are free of any internal voids that can be found in plywood.

Sheets of MDF are heavy, with a full sheet weighing in at about 90 pounds. But this weight means the material is very dense. That makes MDF great for building bench tops, among other things. Glue two layers of 3/4" MDF together, and you’ll have a durable bench top that can stand up to abuse.

Easy to Work With
Other than being a bit challenging to move around due to the size and weight of the sheets, MDF is easy to work with. It’s easy to cut and can be routed to add grooves and even decorative edge profiles. MDF glues up well, and holds screws reasonably well, too.

Working with MDF does generate a lot of fine dust, so you’ll want to use a shop vacuum or dust collector to help cut down on the mess. It’s also a good idea to wear a dust mask to prevent breathing in the fine dust.

Dress it Up
Dress up the edgeWhile raw MDF might look a little dull, it takes on a surprisingly nice look with a clear finish. That dull color goes away, leaving a deep, pleasant color that you can work to a nice sheen with a few extra coats of finish. You can stain MDF, as well. To dress up MDF even more, cover the exposed edges with solid wood.

MDF also takes paint very well, which is one of the reasons it’s great for built-ins, and for projects in the workshop or garage. The edges are quite porous, though, and wick up paint like a sponge. So, if the edges will be exposed, fill them with a hardening putty first. It’s available at most hardware stores. Sand the filler smooth, and then brush or spray on a coat of primer before you add the color.

Fill it up with putty Apply a coat of primer Apply the colored paint

Univeral Bench


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From Kreg and Woodsmith Magazine
2012 August Home Publishing

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