MDF Cabinet Facings ???????

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Forum topic by Dollarbill posted 02-25-2007 04:35 AM 3963 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Dollarbill's profile


91 posts in 4373 days

02-25-2007 04:35 AM

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.



-- Make Dust

7 replies so far

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4549 days

#1 posted 02-25-2007 06:53 AM

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

767 posts in 4408 days

#2 posted 02-25-2007 07:04 AM


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,

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 4396 days

#3 posted 02-25-2007 08:50 PM

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,

View Mopardude's profile


11 posts in 4395 days

#4 posted 03-05-2007 04:03 AM

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.

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

6343 posts in 3429 days

#5 posted 06-15-2018 02:48 AM

This is an old post from 2007….I doubt very much that this guy’s still around on LJs….I may be wrong about that..!!

-- " At my age, happy hour is a crap and a nap".....!!

View johnstoneb's profile


3070 posts in 2407 days

#6 posted 06-15-2018 02:54 AM


-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View Rick S...'s profile

Rick S...

10925 posts in 3267 days

#7 posted 06-16-2018 01:58 AM

YEP! The last time he was on here was Feb/21/2008! The “Answers” are also from 2007

This is Him from April 22, 2007 With his one and only Project which he also got a “Daily Top Three” for.

Who put this on here and HOW?


-- Made In Ontario, CANADA

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