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MDF - glued, screwed, then what?

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Forum topic by A10GAC posted 1011 days ago 1154 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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A10GAC

189 posts in 1675 days


1011 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: question workbench mdf glue-up screws

I’ve been looking at a lot of workbench designs over the past couple of days; quite a few of the smaller ones use a multilayer MDF glue up for the top. Most pre drill a truckload of holes, spread the glue, and then drive screws through the layers of MDF to act as clamps.

This is where my question comes up…no one ever mentions what happens to the screws after the glue dries. Are they still needed for structural support? Is there any reason why you couldn’t remove the screws giving yourself a metal free workbench top?

Murphy’s law being what it is; (i.e. it usually applies full force in my shop) I can picture myself drilling dog holes and hitting screws left & right.

-- Men have become the tools of their tools. - Henry David Thoreau


6 replies so far

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ShaneA

5245 posts in 1195 days


#1 posted 1011 days ago

Avoid driving screws in the areas that are to be drilled later. Should have a pretty good idea where you want the dogholes, just stay 8-10” from there. Maybe use clamps and cauls in that area.

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willie

456 posts in 1051 days


#2 posted 1011 days ago

If you don’t glue the top you will be able to turn it over and use the other side when the first side gets worn out. Just use enough screws to keep the top in place or wood dowels can be used instead so you won’t have to worry about finding screws with your tools.

-- Every day above ground is a good day!!!

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doordude

1085 posts in 1579 days


#3 posted 1011 days ago

why not just buy a 3/0×8/0×1-3/4 solid core birch door,then your not reinventing the wheel, and no screws or a bunch of holes to contend with.

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Don W

14606 posts in 1164 days


#4 posted 1011 days ago

I agree with doordude, but if you’re insistent on the mdf, drill the dog holes in the top (or bottom) layer first. Then you’ll know where they are going to be.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

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MrRon

2716 posts in 1840 days


#5 posted 1011 days ago

To answer your question; No! the screws are no longer needed. The screws are just to hold the MDF together until the glue sets. For a bench top, you really don’t need any screws at all if you are using MDF. It is flat enough and heavy enough that glue alone will hold them together. Just put some clamps at the edges and some weight in the center. Bricks, cement blocks, sandbags work well. Just make sure the MDF is well supported from below so you don’t cause it to buckle or bend from the weight.

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A10GAC

189 posts in 1675 days


#6 posted 1011 days ago

MrRon: Thanks, my last MDF glue up involved granite cobblestones and wheel weights off the tractor. It worked fairly well, but I ended up running a few screws into the MDF anyway. Kind of a belt & suspenders thing.

Don W & doordude: I don’t know if insistent is quite the right word; I had considered a door, but, due to space constraints the length of the bench will be considerably shorter than a standard door so it seemed like a waste to buy a door and chop off a foot & a half. I also already have some MDF laying around from a past project.

Don W: Good point…I’m not sure why drilling the holes before the glue & screw never occurred to me.

cjwillie: Thanks for the idea, I like the thought of predrilled dog holes and locating dowels with a reversible top.

ShaneA: I thought about laying out a grid for the screws, but then I started to think about 10 months down the road when the grid had worn off. I was trying to future proof it, but I might be overthinking it.

-- Men have become the tools of their tools. - Henry David Thoreau

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