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  • MDF... Screws or staples?

    I have some projects coming up that unfortunately require working with MDF. I am having trouble with mechanical fasteners either splitting or stripping IE:screws and 18ga narrow crown staples. Any ideas?

    Also what is the best glue to use, I heard that the standard PVA glues work OK but would like to know if there is a glue specifically designed for MDF that woul work better.
    Thanks,<br /><br />W. Blake<br /><br />FLATHEADFOOS.COM

  • #2
    McFeelys sells screws and step drill, with a long head shank designed for melemine, which I would think would work on MDF (yuck). Other than that, any pre-drilled screw would be better than staples--which at least on thin MDF, leave large puckers.

    PVA glue is the way I'd go---after all, you're bonding one layer of compressed sawdust to another. I've used it on my limited use of melemine and it's been fine.
    Dave

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    • #3
      McFeelys sells screws and step drill, with a long head shank designed for melemine, which I would think would work on MDF (yuck). Other than that, any pre-drilled screw would be better than staples--which at least on thin MDF, leave large puckers.

      PVA glue is the way I'd go---after all, you're bonding one layer of compressed sawdust to another. I've used it on my limited use of melemine and it's been fine.
      Dave

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      • #4
        Almost anything driven into the edge of MDF will split it. I made my first project using MDF this past summer and frankly, I don't think I will ever work with the stuff again....well, it probably will suffice as a cheap work table top! Basically MDF is a sandwich of wood dust waste, mixed with some vile chemicals and compressed under very high pressure so it's structure is sort of like sediment. It appears hard and is best when fasteners are driven through the surface and into some other, more sound, material. Anything driven into the edge will pry open the dust layers and trying to anchor a fastener into the surface is not unlike fastening to weak concrete; you run the risk of tear out. With chip, strand, and flake board there is some level of fibrous wood particles or chips that overlap and bond in a manner that gives strength to the end product, but with MDF the dust is so fine, there appears to be little integrity. Probably glue is the only way to fasten it without compromising it.

        You should also be concerned with outgassing of chemicals in MDF. Most of the stuff contains relatively high levels of formadahyde. MDF should be sealed either with a good paint or better still a laminate or other plastic coating like melamine.

        CWS

        [ 01-07-2005, 08:08 PM: Message edited by: CWSmith ]

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        • #5
          Hey Blake!!



          This is the kind of screws I use in MDF. If you use the right drill bit, you have no problems. They give a lot of grip.

          And you always have the Hettich connecting fittings made for MDF:



          At Hettich US

          Best

          Ari

          [ 02-03-2005, 01:59 PM: Message edited by: Ari ]

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          • #6
            I hope that you can find a way to utilize tongue and groove or rabbet joinery. Seems that everything I have read and talked with folks about suggest that you should limit your fastener choice to something that will hold the joint together until the glue takes hold. Maybe a dowel fastener would help too.

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            • #7
              I have the Kreg pro pack 2000 and have built several cab. with it(90 deg but joints) even a desk in melamine (poly glue). Their screws hold well,do not split ,self drill,prelubed, and no clamping after the screws are in . Titebond III is the best to use for MDF.

              If you must nail, drive them in like toe nailing to get better grip, but only to avoid clamping b/c the hold is weak.

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              • #8
                Hey Blake

                I work with MDF alot I use it to build subwoofer boxes because of the density. From my experience the best glue I use is regular yellow wood glue or liquid nails project. As far as mechanical fastner I use coarse drywall screws and a rule of thumb always predrill and countersink. Also don't use a highspeed drill, if you have a vairable speed drill go with the slowest speed or you will strip the holes and try to stay as far from the edge about 2.5-3.00" on the 3/4 side or it will split.

                Hope this helps

                Tim_ber

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                • #9
                  A biscuit joiner and glue works well on MDF. This is what biscuit joinery excels in.
                  Dick

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