mock west elm furniture

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Forum topic by wsievers posted 05-16-2016 02:28 PM 600 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 434 days

05-16-2016 02:28 PM

Topic tags/keywords: mdf confirmat plywood furniture question dresser west elm patchwork

Hi everyone. This is my first post on here. I’m a hobbyist with a little bit of skill. My girlfriend and I are looking for a new bedroom set and it seems like everything that we like is no where close to our budget or if we buy used we’ll have to put a ton of work into it anyways (which we would probably do normally). We have drifted towards the west elm “patchwork” style. I definitely cannot afford to spend several thousand on a designer set but I thought that looks doable for a lot less expense. It’s basically a box with shelves and some of those shelves have drawers that slide into or doors on them. The plan is to make 4 pieces: long dresser, tall dresser, and 2 night stands. My goal is to spend <=$500.

My internal dilemma lies in the material selection. The legs will be 2×2 and drawer structure will be 1x’s and 1/4” ply. The drawer fronts and doors will definitely be wood or plywood at least so I can stain them the different colors. The boxes will be painted white so I originally thought MDF but with the health hazards, weight, and tendency to split or have screws tear out. I’m not so sure and I don’t have much experience with MDF. I don’t really want fasteners to show on the exterior and I know you can’t counter sink those confirmat screws. However, dealing with plywood sanding, edge banding, finishing just to paint doesn’t make much sense to go through all of that hassle. I have read plenty of posts about the pros and cons of MDF vs plywood and how MDF doesn’t belong in fine furniture but nothing has made one or the other a super clear choice for me. I want the set to last for a long time and possibly pass on to our kids or another family. Not hundreds of years or anything but I definitely don’t want it falling apart in a few months or next year when we plan on moving, where I’ll finally have space for a proper shop :).

What are your experiences? Suggestions? Critiques?

5 replies so far

View Ger21's profile


1074 posts in 2825 days

#1 posted 05-16-2016 03:15 PM

If I was going to paint MDF, and wanted the best possible finish, I’d edgeband the MDF. So MDF or Plywood are basically the same amount of work.

I’d assemble the box with glue and rabbets. No need to use any fasteners. If you’re concerned, you can reinforce the joints with dowels, or glue blocks on the inside.

MDF is fine for this application.

-- Gerry,

View DrDirt's profile


4348 posts in 3436 days

#2 posted 05-16-2016 03:37 PM

Try MDO per panel it is more expensive, but you have the veneer cores of plywood for screws, with an waterproof MDF layer on the outside, that takes paint really well. Also that thin MDF ‘overlay’ has enough resin that it is weatherproof, so doesn bubble up if it gets wet.

Learned about it from Norm for painted projects, the surface is glass smooth, unlike the grain of plywood that always shows through.

-- 'Political correctness is fascism pretending to be manners' ~George Carlin

View jdmaher's profile


409 posts in 2273 days

#3 posted 05-16-2016 04:50 PM

Me, I like wood. Really, it ain’t all that more expensive for less than production quantities.

I’d use poplar for the carcase. I’d use clear maple for the drawer innards. I WOULD use 1/4” Baltic birch for cabinet back and drawer bottoms. And I’d go to town selecting just the right variety and boards for the drawer fronts and doors.

What the heck? You’re gonna live with it for the rest of your life and then pass it on to future generations. Why not do it as well as you can?

-- Jim Maher, Illinois

View wsievers's profile


2 posts in 434 days

#4 posted 05-16-2016 06:50 PM

Where do you go for MDO and other varieties of plywood? I live in Baltimore and they have a few plywood wholesalers around town but from what I can see they have a minimum orders or do not sell to the public.

View DrDirt's profile


4348 posts in 3436 days

#5 posted 05-17-2016 12:40 PM

I get 1/2 and 3/4 inch MDO at Menards… (a midwest version of Lowes/Depot supercenter). It is made in USA.

Before they opened here, I bought it at ‘Metro Hardwoods’ in Kansas City (independence, MO)

-- 'Political correctness is fascism pretending to be manners' ~George Carlin

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