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  • Mdf?

    I plan to build a platform bed for my daughter. The structure will incorporate both shelving and storage. I will most likely paint it white. So my question is, would MDF be a suitable choice? And if not, what do you suggest?

    Thanks

  • #2
    MDF is okay for non structural elements. I have used it to make moldings for a remodeled kitchen as I knew I was not staining the trim. Be careful using screws; its easy to split mdf if the pilot hole isn't matched to the screw pretty closely. I've seen mdf used in cabinetry for things like door inlays for recessed or raised panel doors, but surrounded with real wood stiles and rails. And three more things: it's heavy, makes a lot of dust and may be harder on saw blades than a softwood like pine.
    there's a solution to every problem.....you just have to be willing to find it.

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    • #3
      i made a basic shelving system with mdf. the corners chip like crazy, the shelves sag, and the screws are releasing. i have yet to rationalize what this product is for.
      Last edited by CheekyMonkeyWrench; 08-02-2006, 01:41 AM.

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      • #4
        I've made only one project with MDF and frankly, I really don't like it at all. I know some of the posts I've read have lead me to believe that I'm using the wrong fastening techniques, etc., but overall, I've found MDF to be pretty poor for anything but workbench tops and perhaps simple projects where strength and/or ridgidity isn't of any concern.

        My project entailed a rather simple wall unit with a couple of storage areas in the bottom with hinged doors. The upper portion would be open shelves for some of my referance books. I started off thinking MDF for the whole project, but quickly discovered that the doors wouldn't hold hinges without splitting, so I made those out of pine. Also, I knew the shelves couldn't be too wide, so I made them only 20 inches and provided a support across the back. They still sagged, not drastically, but enough to be noticeable. The sides also buldged outward (like a pear), even though I used screws to tied the top, bottom, and middle together with fixed shelves at those locations, as well as wall mounted bracing in the back. Overall, a big disappointment, and I've vowed never to use the stuff again.

        MDF isn't much more than dust that is mixed with some kind of resin and then pressed together. As such, it has great "compression" strength, but very little tensile or shear strength. It also bends or sags over time. Screws directly into the ends or sides will cause it to spit and if threaded directly into the surface, they can pull out under stress. So, you need to eather bolt the stuff together using inserts to hold the screw or bolt threads or else use anchors that will sandwich the MDF between the anchor and the head of the fastener. Also, because MDF is mostly glue, you need to seal everything with paint or sealer to minimize out-gassing.

        For what you describe (painted), I'd go with pine or a combination of pine and plywood. It will be lighter in weight and much easier to work with. Poplar would also be a good choice, but it is somewhat more expensive.

        I hope this helps,

        CWS

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        • #5
          Originally posted by CheekyMonkeyWrench
          i made a basic shelving system with mdf. the corners chip like crazy, the shelves sag, and the screws are releasing. i have yet to rationalize what this product is for.
          Cheeky-- I have found it makes very good firewood.

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          • #6
            Pipestone,

            Actually it doesn't make good firewood at all. The chemical makeup of the glue often contains formaldahyde which is a carcinogin. There may also be other chemicals that are not healthy.

            I have asked my local HD for a datasheet on this stuff, but they don't have a clue. They are supposed to keep these handy for customers (I believe it's a legal requirement), but they don't.

            CWS

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            • #7
              Here's a copy of a MDF MSDS, http://www.norbord.com/MSDS_MDF_Eng.pdf
              Teach your kids about taxes..........eat 30 percent of their ice cream.

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              • #8
                Don't be knocking MDF! It is great stuff for making dispossible jigs and fixtures for the shop.

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                • #9
                  It is also a necessary evil for building speaker cabinets. I use rabbets for all edge joints and dadoes for all interior partitions. All joints are glued and screwed with course thread screws, course thread drywall screws also work. I hate the stuff but there is nothing better for speakers. I always wear a respirator (not just a dust mask) and use a dust collector

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                  • #10
                    CWS, You are so right. What I was saying (tongue- in- cheek) was that was the only good thing I could think of for a use and you reminded me that it isn't even good for that.

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                    • #11
                      I think poplar would be a better choice than pine, and probably cheaper than a decent grade pine too.

                      Poplar

                      General Description
                      The sapwood is creamy white and may be streaked, with the heartwood varying from pale yellowish brown to olive green. The green color in the heartwood will tend to darken on exposure to light and turn brown. The wood has a medium to fine texture and is straight-grained; has a comparatively uniform texture.

                      Working Properties
                      A versatile wood that is easy to machine, plane, turn, glue and bore. It dries easily with minimal movement in performance and has little tendency to split when nailed. It takes and holds paint, enamel and stain exceptionally well.

                      Physical Properties
                      A medium density wood with low bending, shock resistance, stiffness and compression values, with a medium steam-bending classification. Excellent strength and stability.
                      ---------------
                      Light is faster than sound. That's why some people seem really bright until you hear them speak.
                      ---------------
                      “If I had my life to live over again, I'd be a plumber.” - Albert Einstein
                      ---------
                      "Its a table saw.... Do you know where your fingers are?"
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                      • #12
                        Related Question

                        Wow Bob D. Where do you find info on wood like that? Is there a website you could recommend? Or a book?

                        Originally posted by Bob D.
                        I think poplar would be a better choice than pine, and probably cheaper than a decent grade pine too.

                        Poplar

                        General Description
                        The sapwood is creamy white and may be streaked, with the heartwood varying from pale yellowish brown to olive green. The green color in the heartwood will tend to darken on exposure to light and turn brown. The wood has a medium to fine texture and is straight-grained; has a comparatively uniform texture.

                        Working Properties
                        A versatile wood that is easy to machine, plane, turn, glue and bore. It dries easily with minimal movement in performance and has little tendency to split when nailed. It takes and holds paint, enamel and stain exceptionally well.

                        Physical Properties
                        A medium density wood with low bending, shock resistance, stiffness and compression values, with a medium steam-bending classification. Excellent strength and stability.

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                        • #13
                          I don't know if it's your source, BD, but I found this by Googling the above paragraphs:

                          The Center for Wood Anatomy Research at http://www2.fpl.fs.fed.us/

                          Tax dollars at work!

                          ps - I guess I gotta change my login name, based on some of the posts in this thread....

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                          • #14
                            Thanks for the input guys!
                            Dana

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                            • #15
                              Same issues with Melamine?

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