Would MDF work?

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Forum topic by Tedstor posted 03-21-2017 01:20 PM 548 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Tedstor's profile


1678 posts in 2781 days

03-21-2017 01:20 PM

So I need some sort of securable work space for my home office. This design should work pretty well.

The free plan calls for 3/4” plywood….however I happen to have 1.5 sheets of 3/4” MDF already on-hand.
This plan calls for pocket hole joinery which I’ve used on several projects in the past…....but never on a piece this large and never with MDF.
So- any reason I couldn’t (or shouldn’t) use MDF to build this secretary desk?

To add: I’m not looking for a hierloom quality piece, and I’d be thrilled if I got 10 years of service out of it. So longevity and durability need to be ‘reasonable’.....but not infinite.

8 replies so far

View rwe2156's profile


3094 posts in 1629 days

#1 posted 03-21-2017 01:23 PM

Go buy yourself some poplar plywood.

1. Pocket screws will not work with MDF.

2. Its also quite heavy.

3. It doesn’t glue well.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View Tedstor's profile


1678 posts in 2781 days

#2 posted 03-21-2017 01:28 PM

Go buy yourself some poplar plywood.

1. Pocket screws will not work with MDF.

2. Its also quite heavy.

3. It doesn t glue well.

- rwe2156

Thats what I figured. I’ve used pocket holes/mdf on a few small projects, but never for any sort of joint that was meant to support any meaningful weight.
Oh well.

View BoxO's profile


33 posts in 965 days

#3 posted 03-21-2017 02:06 PM

rwe2156 is right on.
Pocket screws will work but with movement they may loosen the grip.
You can glue, but the nature of MDF the glue does great but the MDF it self, will eventually pull apart with stress from the weight.
If you are using the drop down to write on you might want to use a harder {plywood}, I love popular but it is soft. Maple or birch may be better for it.
Good luck I hope you post a picture when you are done.

View dhazelton's profile


2789 posts in 2445 days

#4 posted 03-21-2017 02:17 PM

So don’t use pocket screws. Drive ordinary drywall screws into predrilled countersunk holes and fill before you paint. You aren’t making an heirloom piece and just want a few years use so use the mdf you have for the carcass and substitute something nicer for the writing top. Where you have hinges you’ll have to backup the material with real wood.

View DrDirt's profile


4464 posts in 3890 days

#5 posted 03-21-2017 02:48 PM

No pocket screws in MDF.

MDF will work, and stay flat, but you will need/want to dress edges – and get creative with the joinery, as screwing into the edge of MDF is not very strong, and it realy wants to split out

I wouldn’t do it, the biggest investment will be your time. and Time spent fighting this stuff won’t be fun, and it is so heavy.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View pottz's profile


3170 posts in 1132 days

#6 posted 03-21-2017 05:36 PM

i agree with the above not a good idea,it splits easily and yes is heavy,its just not made for something like this.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3796 days

#7 posted 03-21-2017 06:20 PM

I would do it. I’d use biscuits instead of pocket
screws and put drywall-type screws in, countersunk
from the outside of the joints for clamping
and reinforcement.

You can always throw it out and build another
one out of ply if it turns out bad or doesn’t hold

View Ted78's profile


401 posts in 2148 days

#8 posted 03-21-2017 06:30 PM

It could certainly be done, lots of cheap furniture from the big box stores is mdf, they even make super course threaded screws specifically for the stuff, but if you are going to the trouble of building something, even something utilitarian, I’d spring for something a bit nicer to use, and work with.

-- Ted

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