Didn’t get a chance to work on this last night, so I headed home with a purpose tonight. Started by getting everything prepared for cutting the MDF – I’ve read the dust can be nasty so I opened my garage door and put a fan behind me to blow out. I also got some dust masks out, unfortunately not the best but I figured better than nothing, and with the fan blowing the dust away from me I thought it’d be sufficient for now.
I propped up the off-cut side so it wouldn’t slump down on the cross-cut, and setup my fence to cut. My poor circular saw did not like cutting this stuff. At even only 1/2” thick, if I tried to keep the saw to tight to the fence, it started bogging down – and burning MDF. So, I let it take the path of least resistance and ended up about an 1/8th of an inch off my pencil line. No big deal, I’m cleaning it up with a router later anyway. Same thing went for the long cut, but in the end I nearly had a perfect 1/2” overhang on all sides.
Here’s a quick pic of the weights I plan on using to hold the skin tight to the frame:
It was a decent workout just hauling all these up from the basement…
On to the drilling: I sank holes all around the perimeter, figuring I could either back them out later when the glue dried, or just fill them in with wood putty or epoxy. I didn’t want screws in the center, thus the weights above. My plan was to lay a couple of 1×4’s on top of the sheet after gluing and putting screws in the corners, then I’d pile the weights on and finish screwing in the perimeter.
This is when I hit a snag… I couldn’t find my caulk gun. Being too lazy to run up to the store to buy another one, I opted to just glue the top down with the Gorilla glue I bought. No guts no glory, and I need to learn to work under a clock when gluing anyway, right?
So, on with the glue! Mental note: have a wet rag handy before starting to glue. I had glue all over my hands from trying to get the top centered, and the glue started holding the MDF in place making it damn near impossible to slide anymore. I managed to get the overhang correct on the front and back, but the sides were off a bit, a fact I found out when I tried to put a screw in the side and it came out of the 1×4 underneath. I just decided to skip putting screws in the sides, and grabbed 2 more 25lb weights from downstairs to put nearer the ends. The rest of the screws for the front and back edges went in without a hitch, and I wiped down the excess (not a lot of it, hoping I didn’t skimp on the glue…). I felt I had a pretty decent bead squeezing out most of the way around the table, and tightened a few screws down around the edge and adjusted the weights where I thought it wasn’t putting enough pressure.
I really hope glue isn’t dripping down the inside and locking the frame to my makeshift MDF table top… I’ll flip it over tomorrow morning and find out! If it’s screwed up in some way, I’ll just put screws into the cross members and use that side as the bottom of the torsion box.
So, a question for the pros: How well does MDF handle routing on the edges? I’m kind of afraid it’s going to fuzz and shred, so I’m likely to pick up a jigsaw tomorrow and trim up as much as possible before cleaning up with the router. Also, is there any kind of sealant I can put on the edges of the MDF to try and keep moisture out?
-- The difference between being defeated and admitting defeat is what makes all the difference in the world - Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"