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mdf vs plywood for cabinet bases?

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Forum topic by Bill Szydlo posted 03-02-2017 10:28 PM 1312 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Bill Szydlo

64 posts in 2521 days


03-02-2017 10:28 PM

I am starting a kitchen project and am considering using mdf for the lower cabinet sides/top/bottom. These cabinets will be a frameless construction and will be composed entirely of drawers, no doors to look inside. They will be edged with 3/8” solid wood. I am aware of the problems with mdf (weight, dust, moisture) but I like its stability (and cost). From what I have read there appears to be a lot going for mdf in this application but I keep wondering if I should invest in the plywood or is it a toss up?
I would appreciate any insights more experienced individuals are willing to share.
Thanks,
Bill


19 replies so far

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firefighterontheside

16901 posts in 1690 days


#1 posted 03-02-2017 10:33 PM

I wouldn’t do it for two reasons. First is the weight. Second is that it is hard to get screws to hold without splitting the mdf. Use the plywood. Your back will be happier.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

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papadan

3584 posts in 3202 days


#2 posted 03-02-2017 10:33 PM

I would not suggest MDF for frameless cabinets, the weight will cause sagging over time. Any cabinet that can get wet should be ply instead of MDF also.

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TheFridge

8287 posts in 1319 days


#3 posted 03-02-2017 10:43 PM

Ditto and ditto

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

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DS

2820 posts in 2254 days


#4 posted 03-02-2017 10:55 PM

For the best of both worlds consider a Classic Core plywood. It is medium weight with the stability and paintability of MDF with the screw staying power of plywood.
It is a little more $$$ but well worth it for a good project.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

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MT_Stringer

3115 posts in 3064 days


#5 posted 03-02-2017 11:18 PM

Not bad – $40 for 3/4 inch plywood.
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Sande-Plywood-Common-3-4-in-x-4-ft-x-8-ft-Actual-0-709-in-x-48-in-x-96-in-454559/100037820

3/4 inch mdf.
http://www.homedepot.com/p/MDF-Panel-Common-3-4-in-x-4-ft-x-8-ft-Actual-0-750-in-x-49-in-x-97-in-988547/206512588

For the $10 dollar difference, it is a no brainer for me.

BTW, I hate mdf, and the dust it rode in on.

Good luck with your build.
Post some pics. We like pics.
Mike

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

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Rick_M

10605 posts in 2213 days


#6 posted 03-02-2017 11:19 PM

If cost is your main concern, we all face challenges, use pine plywood and build in place. The cabinets in my house were all built in place of pine plywood in 1960, painted, and remained strong until I bought the house and started replacing them almost 40 years later. John Heisz on youtube just built all new kitchen cabinets of pine and they look great. Building in place will save dollars as it takes less material. Some people are unfamiliar with built in place cabinetry, what it means is you don’t build boxes and screw them to the wall, instead the wall becomes part of the structure and you build off it. Unfortunately I don’t have a web reference and you may have to go to the library and look up an older cabinetry book. It was the standard way of building cabinetry before mass production.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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GR8HUNTER

2949 posts in 546 days


#7 posted 03-02-2017 11:58 PM

guess you got your answer ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
all are correct USE PLYWOOD :<))

-- Tony Reinholds,Pa. REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

View Bob Collins's profile

Bob Collins

2466 posts in 3517 days


#8 posted 03-03-2017 12:09 AM

Agree with all above, I would use Plywood every time.

-- Bob C, Australia. Your best teacher is your last mistake.

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kocgolf

267 posts in 2011 days


#9 posted 03-03-2017 01:16 AM

MDF or Melamine only for occasional shop projects, but for anything I really care about, definitely ply. HD has a nice PureBond brand that I have used with great success and consistency. They claim it’s better for you, no formaldehyde, but who knows. I know it works well.

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Bill Szydlo

64 posts in 2521 days


#10 posted 03-03-2017 01:29 AM

Thanks for all the help and it looks like plywood wins. I appreciate all the links from Home Depot but the nearest HD to me is 30” one way. Sadly, the only store I have local is Menards. I was just on their website and the list a 7 ply D3 plywood. I’m not up on my plywood grading but for the cabinets that will not be seen it seems the D3 will be fine. Here is the link http://www.menards.com/main/building-materials/panel-products/specialty-panels/hardwood-panels/3-4-x-4-x-8-d3-natural-maple-veneer-core-plywood/p-1444445025105-c-13334.htm?tid=7958673062394043621&bargainStoreId=3177.
The other item I was considering was using a pre finished birch plywood and am curious what your thoughts are.
Thanks again.

View firefighterontheside's profile

firefighterontheside

16901 posts in 1690 days


#11 posted 03-03-2017 01:35 AM

I much prefer menards plywood over any other store. MDO is a great choice too, but it’s expensive. Prefinshed is a great choice too, but it can be difficult to glue to.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

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Bill Szydlo

64 posts in 2521 days


#12 posted 03-03-2017 01:36 AM

Would melamine glue work on prefinished panels?

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firefighterontheside

16901 posts in 1690 days


#13 posted 03-03-2017 01:42 AM

I have no idea Bill. I’ve never used it. If your making cabinets though. You can use screws from the outside and they will never be seen

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

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MT_Stringer

3115 posts in 3064 days


#14 posted 03-03-2017 03:11 AM

Here ya go, Bill.
Plywood grades
http://www.ezwoodshop.com/plywood/plywood-grades.html

I looked at the Birch plywood I normally buy for shop cabinets and paint grade cabinets. It is designated C3.
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Columbia-Forest-Products-3-4-in-x-4-ft-x-8-ft-PureBond-Birch-Plywood-165921/100077837

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View Loren's profile

Loren

9604 posts in 3481 days


#15 posted 03-03-2017 04:03 AM

I say go for it. MDF and melamine are more
similar than different compared to plywood
and melamine is pretty standard for commercially
produced frameless cases.

The main drawback for the small shop is the
weight. Ultralight MDF is available but it doesn’t
stay as flat… still it probably stays flatter than
ply as a rule.

Your small-shop frameless cases are probably
going to screw together a little out of square…
that’s what the back is for, to shift the out
of squareness to the rear so so front is square.

All said, though, ply being lighter I prefer working
with it to MDF and I suppose ply holds screws
a little better.

showing 1 through 15 of 19 replies

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