Question about finishing MDF

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Forum topic by Derby posted 06-24-2009 01:42 PM 1548 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Derby's profile


27 posts in 3236 days

06-24-2009 01:42 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tip question finishing

I am about to start working on a base cabinet for my tablesaw that will incorporate an Norm Abram-ish router table/cabinet and extra storage for feather boards, pushsticks and all of the other oddments that are required when using a TS. I am having a difficult time finding a decent source for lamenant materials so my question is:

Has anyone ever sealed/finished raw MDF and, if so, how did it turn out?

I have played a bit with Tongue oil and carnuba wax. They look OK but I’m unsure of how well these finishes would stand up as a tablesaw side/outfeed table surface.

Please help!



-- "Lumber is just sawdust in 'solid' form!"

9 replies so far

View Chiefk's profile


163 posts in 3734 days

#1 posted 06-24-2009 02:16 PM

Derby, I recently used MDF to make a small childs bookcase. Because I was going to paint it, I coated in Shellac; and then lightly sanded. I then put two coats of a spray paint on the bookcase. I used 600 grit wet dry-sandpaper between coats. As a top coat, I sprayed two coats of lacquer. I am sure you will be get better ideas, but this is my experience. pkennedy

-- P Kennedy Crossville, TN

View sry's profile


147 posts in 3571 days

#2 posted 06-24-2009 02:35 PM

I’ve used MDF for the top of my workbench and a drill press cart I just finished, and it seems to be holding up really well with a few coats of wipe on poly then wax. I would think the wax would be key to performance both as a router table and outfeed table, to reduce friction.

View MrWoody's profile


320 posts in 3738 days

#3 posted 06-24-2009 02:48 PM

I’ve used MDF for a couple of my shop cabinets. and here.
I did cover the edges with hardwood strips. Then a couple coats of poly.
They have stood up well.

-- If we learn from our mistakes, I'm getting a fantastic education.

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1141 posts in 3954 days

#4 posted 06-24-2009 03:40 PM

Tongue Oil!!!

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

View SteveB's profile


57 posts in 4021 days

#5 posted 06-24-2009 03:40 PM

I’ve used MDF for a couple of projects for clients—a large set of bookshelves and a TV cabinet. It worked well for both.

I primed it with two coats of water-based Kilz, sanding in between, then two or three coats of semi-gloss interior paint thinned with Floetrol.

I seal the edges of the MDF with wallboard mud before the primer. Otherwise the edges soak up a ton of finish and look rough.

-- Steve B - New Life Home Improvement

View Derby's profile


27 posts in 3236 days

#6 posted 06-24-2009 10:01 PM

Thanks to everyone for all of the input.

-- "Lumber is just sawdust in 'solid' form!"

View gerrym526's profile


274 posts in 3771 days

#7 posted 06-24-2009 10:27 PM

I’ve sealed MDF cabinets in my workshop with any water based poly that happened to be around at the time. Worked fine, since the cabinets didn’t need to have the look of heirloom furniture-LOL! If the surface of the router table isn’t slick enough to your liking after the poly, you could apply a couple of coats of paste wax.

-- Gerry

View PurpLev's profile


8534 posts in 3612 days

#8 posted 06-24-2009 10:32 PM

poly – 3 – 4 coats , looks great, smooth like Baby’s a$$. make sure you apply enough finish though cause this thing will suck it all up.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1092 posts in 3358 days

#9 posted 06-26-2009 03:36 PM

The word, Sir, is spelled: TUNG!


-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

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