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Finish for MDF benchtop?

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Forum topic by Llarian posted 1664 days ago 10862 views 1 time favorited 42 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Llarian

128 posts in 2108 days


1664 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: question mdf finishing

I just wrapped up an MDF topped workbench and figure I need at minimum something to protect it from water just in case I spill something on it. MDF being what it is, I suppose its sacrificial to some extent, I doubt I’ll be able to protect it from nicks (and I don’t think I’d want to anyways since I suspect a built up finish would be too slippery).

Anybody have any suggestions? Possibly just Danish Oil or something like that?

-- Dylan Vanderhoof - General hobbiest and reluctant penmaker. http://llarian.etsy.com


42 replies so far

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

3253 posts in 1696 days


#1 posted 1664 days ago

I have a couple of suggestions for you: I built one of my workbenches with a 3” MDF top. I hand-rubbed 3 coats of Danish oil on first, letting each coat dry for about an hour. But you can brush it on if you like. When it was dry, I brushed on 4 coats of a fast-drying poly, letting each coat dry good between for a couple of hours, and the last coat over-night. Don’t worry about slick—it won’t be bad, and will protect the top pretty good from scratches, too. I done this(except the Danish oil) to my t.s. outfeed table and to 2 assembly tables(these were birch ply). Any protection you can put on is good. My 2 cents. Good luck, and happy w.w. It’s fun!!!

-- " I started with nothing, and I've still got most of it left".......

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AaronK

1387 posts in 1966 days


#2 posted 1664 days ago

i wouldnt spare danish oil on it – use whatever is cheapest really. I used some cheap poly. It will soak in like crazy and really boost its hardness and durability – you dont need to resort to danish oil to get the finish to soak in since it’s so absorbent anyway. I basically dumped it on and wiped it around. a squeegee would be more appropriate for all but the final coat.

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Llarian

128 posts in 2108 days


#3 posted 1664 days ago

That’s a good point about the absorbing capabilities of MDF, didn’t think about that. I figure some cheap Minwax poly would work well enough then. Would you even bother thinning it if it were wiped on by rag or squeegee? Or just use it full thickness and wipe off the excess after a few?

-- Dylan Vanderhoof - General hobbiest and reluctant penmaker. http://llarian.etsy.com

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AKWoody

55 posts in 1664 days


#4 posted 1664 days ago

I have been thinking about how to treat the MDF on my bench, I will be using poly as recommended

View AaronK's profile

AaronK

1387 posts in 1966 days


#5 posted 1664 days ago

nah – wouldnt bother thinning it at all. You’ll see how fast it gets absorbed – especially on the edges. sucks it right up. So i’m not sure how much excess you’ll be wiping away!

View Moron's profile

Moron

4666 posts in 2395 days


#6 posted 1664 days ago

just a suggestion or an idea

why bother putting anything on it ?..........its inexspenive and readily available. I put an MDF on top of the solid maple top on my bench and I can, and do write on it, I screw into it, drill into it, bang it bump it and who cares what it looks like….........Its a work bench…........then I sand off the writing, stain, glue etc and its brand new again

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

3253 posts in 1696 days


#7 posted 1664 days ago

Hey AaronK, now I remember why I suggested using the oil before poly. I had some oil left over from a previous project and wanted to use it up, cause it was getting old. Sorry ‘bout that, Llarian. Aaron is right—no need for the oil. But I found out one thing—the oil sure made the first coat of poly “glide” on smoother. Didn’t have that drag on the brush on the first coat of poly—went on a lot easier.

roman: it’s your bench—do whatever you want to do to it. Not me—mines 3” thick, glued and screwed, and bound with Douglas fir. Do you draw plans on it also—that might work.

-- " I started with nothing, and I've still got most of it left".......

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8473 posts in 2150 days


#8 posted 1664 days ago

I think roman was just suggesting that since it’s a relatively cheap material, and easily replaced in most cases – then the extra work/money you’d invest in finishing it up is actually more than it would take to replace the top of the bench. he has a valid point. may not be suitable for all situations, but for most I think it does. OR you could always top the bench with a replaceable layer of Masonite.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

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AaronK

1387 posts in 1966 days


#9 posted 1664 days ago

rick – oh yeah – definitely. Whenever i’ve got a bunch of finish-soaked rags left over I always wipe the top of my bvench with them. It soaks up the excess, which helps the benchtop and makes them safer to dispose of as well.

purplev – yeah, i agree with the masonite. I wouldnt loved to do that, but my borg wasnt carrying it at the time (Wtf!?).

In general i definitely think spilling on a bit of cheap poly is the way to go – even if MDF is cheap, it’s still a PIA to cut some new stock to size and attach it. and I hate working with mdf… ugh.

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

3253 posts in 1696 days


#10 posted 1663 days ago

roman: My mistake again on your suggestion/idea. I didn’t read the line where you have a solid maple top on your w.b. You would most certainly want to cover up a nice top like that and get no damage to it. I’m gonna have to learn to read slower, or get some glasses.

PurpLev and Aaron: 2nd the masonite: I have one work bench that has masonite to cover the bench top. When it gets banged up, take it off, throw it away, and get a new piece, start over. It’s cheap insurance.

-- " I started with nothing, and I've still got most of it left".......

View Mark's profile

Mark

1787 posts in 1775 days


#11 posted 1663 days ago

anylight oil is even fine…hell go in your kitchen n use veggie oil and put a very light coat on it

-- My purpose in life: Making sawdust

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Mark

1787 posts in 1775 days


#12 posted 1663 days ago

whatever water resists to..thompsons watersealer on the edges will work

-- My purpose in life: Making sawdust

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dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 2816 days


#13 posted 1663 days ago

Sawdust!

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Kindlingmaker

2653 posts in 2028 days


#14 posted 1663 days ago

...and if the top gets too battered just sand and put another layer of MDF on…

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View Moron's profile

Moron

4666 posts in 2395 days


#15 posted 1663 days ago

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again.

It’s far less important of what goes into your bench and far more important of what comes “off” your bench…...ie., ...projects

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

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