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MDF and Drawer Slides #1: What screw type or method is best to fasten slides to MDF core plywood carcase?

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Blog entry by HappyHowie posted 04-08-2015 04:30 PM 5611 reads 0 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I recently changed my mind about hand fitting these drawers to the dresser I am making. I decided in order to quickly finish this project that I would use side mounted drawer slides. The dresser is primarily MDF core maple plywood with maple hardwood trim on its edges. I followed the plan I purchased for joining the panels with biscuits. Originally I was going to follow the plan to hand fit the drawers by precisely fitting the drawer parts by using bench planes.

Recently I decided to use metal drawer slides to finish this project quickly. I have made those drawers and I am now ready to fasten the metal drawer slides. I am still using bench planes to fit the drawers and they closely fit into the dresser, but I am letting the drawer slides do its work.

The issue I have is with using screws into the MDF core plywood. My experience with screws and MDF is that the MDF will tear-up. I want to avoid that. I will experiment with alternatives.

What I have researched on the net is that special screws are recommended for fastening MDF. SPAX screws are one of the recommended screw types for use in MDF. I will be purchasing some of these soon; like #6 and #8 about 5/8 and 3/4 inch long. I have heard others use drywall screws. I have those and will experiment with them, but I am inclined not to use those on this project. I have also seen on the internet a relatively new screw called Nuvo. They are made in Europe, probably France. The trouble is I cannot find a store that sells them here in the United States. Also I have read that someone pre-drills the screw holes and fills it with wood super glue, lets it harden over night and then fastens the screw into it. That seems to be an interesting option. I will test it.

If any of you have mounted metal drawer slides to MDF material, I would like to know what has worked best for you. What do you recommend for my application?

Thanks in advance.

-- --- Happy Howie



20 comments so far

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waho6o9

7176 posts in 2043 days


#1 posted 04-08-2015 06:23 PM

Confirmat screws are recommended for MDF.

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Dutchy

2020 posts in 1634 days


#2 posted 04-08-2015 06:36 PM

The Spax M screw is made for MDF connection, what means MDF to MDF in a 90 degrees angle.

I don,t know the NUVO screw

-- My englisch is bad but how is your dutch?

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waho6o9

7176 posts in 2043 days


#3 posted 04-08-2015 07:02 PM

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HappyHowie

330 posts in 1411 days


#4 posted 04-08-2015 07:46 PM

Thank you both for your prompt replies. That was a great link on SPAX and Conformit screws. I will keep those in mind when I have an application for joining two panels of MDF together at 90 degree angles.

I just returned from a trip to Home Depot and Woodcraft where I got two very different views or advice. The first guy told me any type of screw would work for fastening my metal drawer slides to the MDF core panel walls of my dresser. I did find the display of SPAX screws. I bought the following #6 – 1/2” pan head screws and #8 – 3/4” pan head screws. No other SPAX screws less than an inch were available.

Then I drove to Woodcraft. A woodworker salesman there assisted me. Conformit screws were available but only two sizes were being sold. One size for joining two 1/2” MDF panels together and a larger size for joining two 3/4 MDF panels. However, he had Highpoint screws that he said would work well with MDF. I think they were expected good for this application because they were self starting and the threads were wider than normal wood screws. I bought two sizes: #6 – 1/2” Fh and #6 – 3/4” Fh. He recommended the 3/4” long screws since the drawer’s metal slide would occupy about 1/6” and my dresser panel with MDF is 3/4 inch thick maple plywood. The Woodcraft saleman also stated something I found interesting. He stated that the screws that came with the slides are made so they can be used in MDF. That surprised me. I did not tell him where I bought my drawer slides, nor the brands I bought. Either he is assuming a certain brand Woodcraft sells or knows from personal experience that all manufacturers supplies screws that can work well in MDF.

He also sold me self-centering drill bits for #6 and #8 and #10 screws. He said I would never pre-drill holes with self-centering feature again. I would like it that much.,

I am going to test three methods today. I will drill the SPAX and the Highpoint screws in pre-drilled MDF, I will also fill a pre-drilled hole with my wood super glue and let that harden over night. Then I will drill one or both screws into it. Somehow I will judge how well the MDF reacts to the screws being drilled into it. If it pulls up or crumbles, then that is something I wlll avoid.

I’ll post my results.

Thanks again.,

-- --- Happy Howie

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NoThanks

798 posts in 995 days


#5 posted 04-08-2015 08:02 PM

Iwud like to see one of those spax’s in a 5/8” Please post a pic when you get one.

I’ve always just used #6 or #8×5/8” Coarse thread screws.
Maybe not the best, but never had any trouble. I think the main thing is don’t over screw it and strip it.

Edit: just read you could only get 1/2 and 3/4. Does it have a shoulder and all the wazoo threads like the picture above?

-- Because I'm gone, that's why!

View Dutchy's profile

Dutchy

2020 posts in 1634 days


#6 posted 04-08-2015 08:46 PM

Howie,

The industrial users in europe use EURO srews (of course :)) for mounting drawer slides. They use this screws in different materails, also MDF. First they dril holes of 5 mm at a distance of 32, 64, 96 and so on. I think your slides will also have this screw distance, but not made for EURO screws.
Drilling is mostly done on a CNC machine.

My advise to you is: “use standard chipboard screws” I never had any problem using this screws in MDF or maybe IKEA can sell you slides to use with EURO screws.

GOOD LUCK

-- My englisch is bad but how is your dutch?

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HappyHowie

330 posts in 1411 days


#7 posted 04-09-2015 04:30 AM

I have taken some photos of the screws I am testing in MDF. I will post the results, my judgments and the photos tomorrow. I plan to drill all three screws into the epoxy filled pred-drill holes. After I take a photograph of that test I will make my post here.

I can say that drilling into MDF without pre-drilling pilot holes that all three gave bad results; the MDF was pushed up and crumbly. Generally, using pre-drilled holes gave good results. The SPAX #6 – 5/8” stopped early because I did not countersind it. A bit of the MDF did push up a bit on the SPAX screw.

-- --- Happy Howie

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HappyHowie

330 posts in 1411 days


#8 posted 04-09-2015 02:44 PM

Here is the. Nuvo website.

”:Nüvo™ Screw: The Most Technologically Advanced Screw for Panels and Hard…: https://youtu.be/6XowGTbp3wA

-- --- Happy Howie

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HappyHowie

330 posts in 1411 days


#9 posted 04-09-2015 02:58 PM

The pan head SPAX screw seemed to perform the best in MDF. Only using pre-drilled holes worked well. Epoxy filled in the hole worked well. I kind of like the idea of the screws threads holding on to the hardened epoxy inaddtion to the MDF fibers.

In my case I do not know if I can get access to the predrilled hole in order to drop or pour epoxy into it. this This a large dresser ccabinet that is standing upright; not standing on its side so gravity can do its thing.

SPAX pan head screws will be used if there is room for the pan heads without obstructing the slides or the drawer action.

Back row is the SPAX screws. Center row is the square head Highpoint screw. Front row is a common screw with it Phillips flat head. Left most column were not predrilled holes, but the other two columns were.

Conclusions: predrilled holes and SPAX screws work best of these three in MDF. Highpoint screws in predrilled holes comes next. Also you must predrilled holes when using MDF.

-- --- Happy Howie

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HappyHowie

330 posts in 1411 days


#10 posted 04-09-2015 03:03 PM

The pan head SPAX screw seemed to perform the best in MDF. Only using pre-drilled holes worked well. Epoxy filled in the hole worked well. I kind of like the idea of the screws threads holding on to the hardened epoxy inaddtion to the MDF fibers.

In my case I do not know if I can get access to the predrilled hole in order to drop or pour epoxy into it. this This a large dresser ccabinet that is standing upright; not standing on its side so gravity can do its thing.

SPAX pan head screws will be used if there is room for the pan heads without obstructing the slides or the drawer action.

Back row is the SPAX screws. Center row is the square head Highpoint screw. Front row is a common screw with it Phillips flat head.

-- --- Happy Howie

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HappyHowie

330 posts in 1411 days


#11 posted 04-09-2015 03:25 PM

Here is photo that shows the threads on these screws.

-- --- Happy Howie

View Dutchy's profile

Dutchy

2020 posts in 1634 days


#12 posted 04-09-2015 07:10 PM

But how does it go when a metal slide is screwed to the MDF?

A pre drilled fitting is always stronger and better. I also use a

-- My englisch is bad but how is your dutch?

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Dutchy

2020 posts in 1634 days


#13 posted 04-09-2015 07:38 PM

After some thinking I couldn,t understand. So I give it a try whitout predrilling and counter sinking and I made a picture after it was done.
The used screws are the standard particleboard Torx 20 and 30 mm. Price about $ 8,00 per 1000.

When you like I send a few to you.

-- My englisch is bad but how is your dutch?

View HappyHowie's profile

HappyHowie

330 posts in 1411 days


#14 posted 04-10-2015 01:14 AM

Dutchy,

You got an excellent result with your SPAX M screws; especially since you did not pre-drill nor countersink the holes. Thanks for your test and the photo of your result.

I now see that the SPAX screw I bought yesterday at Home Depot was not the same SPAX M screw for MDF that you recommended and provided a photo and a link to. Although my SPAX screw did well in my test by simply drilling into MDF with a pre-drilled hole, I am sure your SPAX M would probably have done even better.

I have found your recommended SPAX M screw on Amazon. The link I have given below is for #8 – 3/4” screws; the size I most likely will use with my drawer slides.

Amazon.com.

I am going to order eight boxes that has quantities of 35 per box. I should have them here by Saturday or Monday. Thank you though for your offer to send me some. I will have plenty leftover after mounting eight pairs of metal drawer slides so I can use them on other projects, later on.

I did not countersink my screws during my test because I will not be countersinking the screws I will be using with the drawer slides I will be mounting. If these SPAX M screws will hold fast to the core MDF plywood panels I have built the dresser with, then I am sure the drawer slides will hold up fine.

Thank you again.

P.S. The image below is the dresser and drawer boxes I will be mounting with the drawer slides I bought. I have some nicely figured cherry hardwood that I will make the false drawer fronts with.

I bought my side mount drawer slides from my local Lowes store. I believe the Richelieu manufacturer of the slides I bought for this dresser is the same company that makes Accuride slides that I am using for a walnut nightstand I am building.

Eight Drawer Dresser: maple with cherry drawer fronts..

Walnut Nightstand:

-- --- Happy Howie

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HappyHowie

330 posts in 1411 days


#15 posted 04-10-2015 01:18 AM

Someone asked me for a close up view of the SPAX screw I bought and used in my test. I found a good image here for that. I hope this helps. The SPAX screws are the ones on the right…

-- --- Happy Howie

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