MDF - glued, screwed, then what?

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Forum topic by A10GAC posted 10-16-2011 02:47 AM 1615 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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191 posts in 2918 days

10-16-2011 02:47 AM

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

View ShaneA's profile


6865 posts in 2438 days

#1 posted 10-16-2011 03:24 AM

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.

View willie's profile


533 posts in 2294 days

#2 posted 10-16-2011 07:44 AM

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!!!

View doordude's profile


1085 posts in 2823 days

#3 posted 10-16-2011 08:15 AM

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.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18524 posts in 2407 days

#4 posted 10-16-2011 02:35 PM

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.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View MrRon's profile


4497 posts in 3083 days

#5 posted 10-16-2011 06:14 PM

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.

View A10GAC's profile


191 posts in 2918 days

#6 posted 10-17-2011 02:00 AM

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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