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MDF Cabinet Facings ???????

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Forum topic by Dollarbill posted 2735 days ago 3187 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Dollarbill

91 posts in 2764 days


2735 days ago

I have been hired to reface a lot of cabinets and think that I will use MDF. I have never used MDF but I understand that it works very well. The rails and stiles will be MDF and the center panel will be the existing plywood that the customer has on the old cabinets to save a few bucks.

I understand that I can glue up the intire assembly because the MDF and the plywood do not have an expanision problem and the panel does NOT have to float.

I will e-mail anyone a big hug that can give me any advice on this matter.

Thanks,

Bill

-- Make Dust


4 replies so far

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dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 2940 days


#1 posted 2735 days ago

Most of the MDF doors I’ve seen are solid panels routed out to look like a raised panel door. I would not use MDF rails and stiles because of the lack of strength. I have used poplar rails and stiles with MDF panels. You can pick up or build your own MDF doors dirt cheap. I assume you are painting the project. Don’t forget the hug!

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

765 posts in 2800 days


#2 posted 2735 days ago

Bill,

Some tips on using MDF:

MDF really sucks up glue, so you’ll have to apply it to your glue areas in two coats, otherwise you’ll have glue-starved joints. First start by applying a bead of glue to your gluing surface and spread it out with your finger. Assemble the two pieces and then pull them apart. You’ll probably see that most of the glue was soaked up. So now add that second coat and again, spread it out with your finger, and then assemble the joint for good.

If you’re ever using screws, make sure to countersink the part where the screw comes OUT of the first board and into the other, as well as the normal countersink; that way, if you get a little bit of mushrooming, it will go into the countersink and won’t interfer with the two boards coming together.

Also remember to drill shank-sized holes in both boards you are screwing together and, if possible, use screws specifically designed for MDF. They have deeper threads for a better bite into the material and are straight-shanked, as opposed to tapered. A standard tapered screw can split MDF.

For painting MDF, let me quote from Vol. 15 Issue 86 of ShopNotes, page 23 – an excerpt from an article on using MDF to make a thickness sander…

“Just like glue, the edges of MDF readily absorb paint. What you can end up with is a noticeable contrast between the smooth faces and rough edges… To solve this problem, I take a couple of simple steps. First, I seal all the exposted edges with drywall joint compound… It looks like a mess, but it actually goes on easily with a putty knife or even your finger. And when dry, the excess sands off with a minimum of effort. Then, before applying the topcoat, I seal everything with a coat of primer. The top coat will then build quickly to a smooth durable, film.”

Also remember to use the best lung protection you have available when cutting it with power tools. MDF has lots of nasty stuff in it that you definitely don’t want to inhale.

Oh, yeah, and what Dennis said… if possible, consider using a solid piece of MDF and routing out the “panel” with profile bits on your router. Once you get a template or two made up, it shouldn’t be much trouble.

Hope that helps. Good luck, brother.

-- Ethan, http://thekiltedwoodworker.com

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Bill

2579 posts in 2787 days


#3 posted 2734 days ago

I have also read that MDF is not good for areas subject to lots of moisture. The MDF will absorb it readily, and end up swelling up and becoming brittle. Probably not a good thing around sinks and such.

-- Bill, Turlock California, http://www.brookswoodworks.com

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Mopardude

11 posts in 2786 days


#4 posted 2727 days ago

MDF is a cheap way of doing it alright! I agree don’t do the stiles and rail approach, route it to look like panel doors. I have never been a fan of painted MDF doors for a kitchen application because over time the paint cracks and the doors split from moisture.

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