MDF core plywood, good or bad choice for an entertainment center

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Forum topic by canoecraig posted 12-24-2014 04:26 PM 1795 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10 posts in 1771 days

12-24-2014 04:26 PM

Topic tags/keywords: mdf cabinet carcass plywood

i live in northeast Indiana and have no place to purchase cabinet grade plywood from. I am have two choices veneer core or MDF core plywood from a national retailer. I had checked with a local lumber yard and they are unable to get cabinet grade plywood and they don’t stock any hardwood plywood. So I am stuck saving big money! The plan is build the carcass from plywood, the doors and face will be solid. I have read about the screw issues while working with MDF, I have never worked with any MDF, so I am reaching out for some advise.
What is going to be the best for workability and strength? Thanks for any advise

7 replies so far

View Rob's profile


704 posts in 3066 days

#1 posted 12-24-2014 04:46 PM

A while back I picked up a heavy-duty bookstore magazine display off the curb. When I took it apart for the materials I found that the internal structure was made from 3/4” shop-grade plywood and hardwood cleats, with 3/4” MDF-core plywood glued and nailed around the outside.

-- Ask an expert or be the expert -

View pintodeluxe's profile


5654 posts in 2808 days

#2 posted 12-24-2014 04:51 PM

I try to avoid the MDF core plywood when possible. While it is usually flat and stable, it is true that it doesn’t take screws well.
Also do some finishing samples on the plywood before assembly to make sure the plywood will stain the same color as your hardwood.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4981 posts in 2488 days

#3 posted 12-24-2014 04:55 PM

You could dado and glue the carcase together, MDF glues very well, although it takes a bit more than veneer core ply. Then put the face frames on with biscuits. Screws will work, I usually use slightly longer ones and stay away from the corners where the MDF may split even more easily….goes without saying that it needs to be predrilled. The case will be extremely heavy, to me that would be the biggest downside. But MDF core ply is very flat and smooth, and the appearance of the case will not be different. One suggestion, if you still want to pursue cabinet grade plywood, call Columbia Forest Products and ask them for a local dealer in their products (or: States Industries). Sometimes the local vendor’s clerks do not know whether they can get something.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Kazooman's profile


1005 posts in 1947 days

#4 posted 12-24-2014 06:14 PM

The L. L. Johnson Lumber Company in Charlotte, Michigan has great materials and they deliver to Indiana. Check out their website, or better yet take a road trip up to their place.

View Yonak's profile


986 posts in 1516 days

#5 posted 12-24-2014 07:05 PM

My experience is that screws hold pretty well in MDF through the face of the sheet but not well into the ends. The screws will tend to depress into the material a little when tightening so keep your countersinks shallow.

View canoecraig's profile


10 posts in 1771 days

#6 posted 12-25-2014 12:42 AM

Thanks Kazooman for the info, I had actually been to the Johnson’s Workbench store in South Bend, the location in Charlotte is an hour and a half from me. I think it might make a road trip next week

View Kazooman's profile


1005 posts in 1947 days

#7 posted 12-25-2014 01:57 PM

It’s a bit over an hour for me and still worth the trip. Be certain to talk to them and explain your needs for lumber. Ask them if they will show you around the storage facilities so you can get an idea of what they carry. The main store has a selection of planed and jointed lumber, and the attached warehouse has some raw wood. However, most of the stuff is off in other buildings. Don’t be fooled into thinking that what you see in the main building is all that they have in stock. Grab a catalog.

Johnson’s is one of the few places that I go to where they will grab a forklift and move several bundles of wood to let you get at what you want. They will then help you sort through the pile for “just the right pieces”. I can’t fit a full sheet of plywood in my Wife’s SUV and they have always been happy to break them down into smaller pieces (rough dimensions) for free. They used to have a bit larger selection of power tools, but that seems to change every time I visit. I did get my SawStop there. Great place to do business.

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