LumberJocks

Opinion on MDF as a table top Core

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by dan_fash posted 04-14-2015 04:22 PM 843 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View dan_fash's profile

dan_fash

62 posts in 2893 days


04-14-2015 04:22 PM

Topic tags/keywords: table top mdf oak distressing

I have a new comission for a dining table, 42×76 top, in oak. All of my previous table tops have been pine. I am contemplating starting with a 1/2 or 3/4 sheet of MDF, wrapped in 3/4 oak. This table is for a military couple who will be moving to alaska, and then overseas afterwords, and they want something to hold up over many moves, climate changes, and possible long harsh storages.
I was thinking the mdf would give me flatness and stability, while the thicker oak (as opposed to just a veneer) will give durability, plus allow for some significant, deep distressing (clients request)

Am I way overengineering this? is the mdf and oak going to make this a monster to move? Can I reliably attach the trestle base to the mdf underside?

Opinions appreciated

Ive attached a few pics that show the depth of distressing I do, a you can see why I need the real wood.

-- "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most logical explantion is that I was made for another world." -C.S. Lewis


18 replies so far

View pjones46's profile

pjones46

986 posts in 2110 days


#1 posted 04-14-2015 04:30 PM

IMHO, Skip the MDF and go with thicker live edge white oak.

-- Respectfully, Paul

View timbertailor's profile

timbertailor

1592 posts in 891 days


#2 posted 04-14-2015 04:33 PM

MDF is too susceptible to damage from water\humidity. Also does not take screws or nails very well. And, it is a mess to work with and not good for your health.

I would use birch plywood for stability and to avoid all these problems instead.

-- Brad, Texas, https://www.youtube.com/user/tonkatoytruck/feed

View DrDirt's profile

DrDirt

4169 posts in 3209 days


#3 posted 04-14-2015 04:49 PM

Use solid wood.
MDf is great if you are trying to veneer rare species etc.

But if you goal is not to compete with IKEA making “wood skinned paper” as furniture…. don’t do it.

As Brad mentioned… the wrap sounds good until it gets wet in storage..

-- 'Political correctness is fascism pretending to be manners' ~George Carlin

View WoodNSawdust's profile

WoodNSawdust

1417 posts in 643 days


#4 posted 04-14-2015 04:59 PM

MDF does not expand or contract with changes in humidity. So how will you fasten oak to it so that the oak can expand and contract without problems? Plus MDF is heavy!

-- "I love it when a plan comes together" John "Hannibal" Smith

View firefighterontheside's profile

firefighterontheside

13520 posts in 1323 days


#5 posted 04-14-2015 05:12 PM

I’m thinking skip the MDF as well. I have used it on desks along with oak ply, but not with solid wood. As woodnsawdust said it will not expand with the rest of the top. If you are looking for thickness you can make the breadboard end and the outer pieces thicker and the rest be 1”. You can have some supports going from apron to apron to help with stability as long as they are attached to top with some sort of moving connector.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View Dutchy's profile

Dutchy

2022 posts in 1635 days


#6 posted 04-14-2015 05:13 PM



MDF does not expand or contract with changes in humidity. So how will you fasten oak to it so that the oak can expand and contract without problems? Plus MDF is heavy!

- WoodNSawdust

Also Mdf expand and contrct with changes in humidity but different than solid oak.

-- My englisch is bad but how is your dutch?

View dan_fash's profile

dan_fash

62 posts in 2893 days


#7 posted 04-14-2015 05:16 PM

so then thoughts on using the birch plywood? The budget on this is part of why I’m thinking about a core. As for the contracting, I know that exterior doors are frequently solid wood rigidly affixed to a non-expanding substrate like mdf or plywood, so I was hoping that this would be the same. basically eliminating the expansion of the oak.

Am I wrong on this?

-- "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most logical explantion is that I was made for another world." -C.S. Lewis

View dan_fash's profile

dan_fash

62 posts in 2893 days


#8 posted 04-14-2015 05:19 PM

There will not be any aprons on this top. It is a trestle style

-- "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most logical explantion is that I was made for another world." -C.S. Lewis

View firefighterontheside's profile

firefighterontheside

13520 posts in 1323 days


#9 posted 04-14-2015 05:24 PM

On those the oak outer layer is thin and you can stop that movement, just as in plywood. If you are talking about 1x oak on bottom and top, it won’t stop that.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View firefighterontheside's profile

firefighterontheside

13520 posts in 1323 days


#10 posted 04-14-2015 05:32 PM

Ok. Perhaps if you sandwich the birch between the top and bottoms of oak, screw through the bottom into the top piece but not actually into the birch. There would be big enough holes in the birch for the screws to pass thru and allow movement. The on the ends you can either make some sort of bread board or put in small pieces of end grain between the top and bottom if you know what I mean. Then when you attach the top to the trestles be sure not to go thru into the birch. This is just my brainstorm. Never tried it.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View pjones46's profile

pjones46

986 posts in 2110 days


#11 posted 04-14-2015 05:49 PM

By the time you screw around with all the extra labor in trying to put the table together you could have bought solid wood to construct the table unless your labor is worth nothing.

I have never seen an exterior door as you have described. I only use solid wood doors, insulated fiberglass doors, or insulated metal doors and my customers and architects would flip out if I tried to pawn one of those doors on them.

Some cheaper flat face interior doors are made with wood skins laminated over a frame of solid wood/engineered material, or embossed Masonite skins…..not for exterior use.

-- Respectfully, Paul

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

4036 posts in 1818 days


#12 posted 04-14-2015 05:57 PM

Forget MDF. You don’t want to mix a stable material w/ wood. Oak is relatively cheap I’d just go solid as it is the most durable. Just remember the allow for movement and the table should last for many years and moves. Your top requires~ 33 bf*, 5/4 red oak sells for 5.50/ bf = $183. A sheet of MDF is $45 = you are going to need a bunch of oak to go with it so say $100. The difference is only $83, with all of the extra work to try to join it to the MDF and maybe still get less than satisfactory results; why would you even consider it if you value your labor and want to put your name on it?

  • I used local prices for 5/4 red oak and allowed 20% waste factor.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View GregD's profile

GregD

783 posts in 2603 days


#13 posted 04-14-2015 05:57 PM

A1Jim described one method of making exterior doors. The core is butcher-block out of a secondary wood that is then wrapped in 1/4” thick layer of primary wood. I have done this myself for a 4' wide frame-and-panel door. It is a lot of work and eats up a lot of material. There will be movement with humidity changes, but it likely won’t warp.

I would do the oak top the same as you’ve done your pine tops.

-- Greg D.

View BinghamtonEd's profile

BinghamtonEd

2281 posts in 1836 days


#14 posted 04-14-2015 05:58 PM


By the time you screw around with all the extra labor in trying to put the table togeatheer you could have bought solid wood to construct the table unless your labor is worth nothing.
- pjones46

I’m in agreement with this. Unless the top is going to veneered, it seems like this is overcomplicating the potential expansion/contraction issue. I’d suggesting grabbing some 6/4 or 5/4 oak and making a solid top. Allow for expansion/contraction where the top fastens to the base. Use breadboard ends, if desired.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View dan_fash's profile

dan_fash

62 posts in 2893 days


#15 posted 04-14-2015 06:42 PM

Thank you all, I appreciate the view point and the wisdom of the Lumberjocks. Solid wood it is.

-- "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most logical explantion is that I was made for another world." -C.S. Lewis

showing 1 through 15 of 18 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com