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Forum topic by K9Guy posted 01-15-2016 08:42 PM 1597 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 891 days

01-15-2016 08:42 PM

I did a search and couldn’t find my answer, so I apologize if its already been asked..
I’m brand new to wood working.. I have always worked with steel. But there are a few things I’d like to build for my garage out of wood.

I am wanting to make an assembly table, with cabinets and drawers for the base.

Here in Canada, it gets hot and very cold… I was reading that types of wood can expand and shrink, however MDF is stable in the different temps.

Usually when I see cabinets made, they are made from ply wood .. is there a reason, other then it looks nicer?

Why don’t I see more MDF used, its a lot cheaper too!


PS. Lots more questions to come!

10 replies so far

View Simpleman1775's profile


38 posts in 1479 days

#1 posted 01-15-2016 08:52 PM

MDF is terrible with moisture. I would only use it indoors. I only use plywood or solid wood myself.

View dday's profile


153 posts in 1457 days

#2 posted 01-15-2016 08:57 PM

MDF is good indoors , as said. And I’d use it cabinet sides but not shelves, it tends to bow with weight….

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5001 posts in 2521 days

#3 posted 01-15-2016 09:12 PM

A sheet of 3/4” MDF is almost 100#, compared to plywood at somewhere around 60#. It has some uses, but also some distractions (once you saw a sheet apart you’ll see a big one). I prefer plywood for cabinets, though like I said: MDF does have some uses. I used fit for my assembly table, it’s a torsion box with a 1/2” plywood web and 3/4” MDF skins. Worker out well. But my table sits on a plywood stand, I don’t want MDF anywhere near the concrete floor (moisture).

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View SawdustTX's profile


265 posts in 2352 days

#4 posted 01-15-2016 09:23 PM

MDF is more stable from a temp/humidity perspective and very flat. But as others have said ply is lighter and stronger. I don’t use MDF unless forced too, even with the quality of plywood declining.

View conifur's profile


955 posts in 1180 days

#5 posted 01-15-2016 09:51 PM

I would use the MDF for a nice flat top, as long as it is supported well and a coat or 2 of poly rolled on.

-- Knowledge and experience equals Wisdom, Michael Frankowski

View HokieKen's profile


5276 posts in 1166 days

#6 posted 01-15-2016 09:56 PM

MDF makes great tops provided they’re well supported and properly sealed. For cabinets, I’d go with ply. It’s very stable and will eliminate your expansion/contraction concerns and is superior to MDF for structural support and for shelves where it’s not fully supported.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View bondogaposis's profile


4770 posts in 2379 days

#7 posted 01-15-2016 10:03 PM

Wood primarily moves w/ changes in humidity, temperature has little effect except how it influences humidity. Cabinets are generally made from plywood because of its excellent screw holding ability and moisture resistance and it is much lighter in weight than MDF. MDF can be used to good effect on horizontal surfaces like assembly tables, if you can protect it from moisture. I’m building an assembly table now w/ a plywood base and a MDF top. You can build cabinets from MDF and I have done it but plywood is easier to work with.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View gwilki's profile


203 posts in 1502 days

#8 posted 01-17-2016 06:23 PM

Someone may as well buck the tread. :-) I’m in Ottawa, so I get the “canadian” hot and cold part of your equation. I built shelf units for my garage, each about 30” wide, 7’ high and 12” deep, all out of MDF. Other than a center shelf, all the other shelves in the units are pull outs, using full extension slides.

I built all of these out of 3/4” MDF 13 years ago when I moved in. They are still all there.

Now, I don’t hose down my garage floor to clean it, and the slush from the cars in winter doesn’t touch the bottoms of the gables on these units. However, it does get damp in the garage in winter.

I’m not arguing with anyone who has posted otherwise. I can only relate my experience and that of my neighbours that I built units for.

-- Grant Wilkinson, Ottawa ON

View DrTebi's profile


267 posts in 3295 days

#9 posted 01-17-2016 07:06 PM

One reason why some people don’t like MDF is simply because it is so heavy. Handling 3/4” 4×8 sheets is a pain. Another reason is, that they create a lot of dust, especially when you use a router on them. And that dust is more that just wood dust… so it’s worse for your lungs.

View cracknpop's profile


295 posts in 2377 days

#10 posted 01-17-2016 08:32 PM

Have built a few cabinets as well as an expanding assembly table on casters out of MDF. Liked it because it was smooth surface and cut easily. Used biscuit joints to glue them together. Several years (5-7) down the road, no moisture related problems. However, I see glue joints starting to fail. I believe it is simply the fibers of the MDF pulling apart.

I also built a larger top to attach to my table saw with MDF, and incorporated a router plate as well. Used contact cement to attach a formica top/bottom. It didn’t do well. The formica would release. I believe the contact cement would simply pull the surface fibers of the MDF loose.

It is for the above reasons all recent cabinets built as well as my new assembly table (currently in the SketchUp design phase) will be made of plywood with the exception of sacrificial top of MDF.

-- Rick - I know I am not perfect, but I will keep pressing on toward the goal of becoming all I am called to be.

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