Age old debate - mdf versus pine/poplar - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 17 Old 03-04-2014, 01:07 PM Thread Starter
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Age old debate - mdf versus pine/poplar

Doing a recessed panel wainscoting project. The inside of the panel will be finished with some small trim but there will be a slightly exposed edge of the stiles and rails.

You should never factor in cost for quality but it's not hard to see that I can rip (using prices from Lowes because the prices are easy to find with a quick internet search) a MDF sheet into say ten 3/4 x 4 x 8 inch strips (accounting for screw ups, LOL) for $34 but to get the same number of 1 x 4 x 8 poplar boards would cost $120.

I am leaning towards poplar (or clear pine) but am I being too tough on mdf? All casings would definitely be done in poplar (with a backband) because i suspect those corners get beat up more than just wall paneling. But could I get away with MDF for rails and stiles?

Thanks for any input.
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post #2 of 17 Old 03-04-2014, 01:17 PM
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Can you deal with rough sawn poplar, 32 bd. ft. of it would costs $52 ($1.65 bd. ft; 4/4, selects and better) at my sawmill. That aside, I don't poo-poo the possible use of MDF for what your doing, but I would try finishing the edge of a sample and seeif you get the look you want. MDF can be a pain to paint and get a smooth finish on a cut edge.

"I long for the days when coke was a cola and a joint was a bad place to be" (Merle Haggard)
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post #3 of 17 Old 03-04-2014, 01:37 PM Thread Starter
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I'd prefer not to have to "prepare" the wood myself (planing, etc).

I am definitely going to mess around a bit with some samples of mdf first to see how it might look painted, etc. I planned on experimenting with some various technigues I've read on sealing the edge (glue sizing, shellac, drywall mud, etc). In the end, the amount of time prepping the mdf rips for painting might drive me insane and the extra cash spent on poplar or pine might be worth it for my sanity. LOL.

Last edited by mikey1973; 03-04-2014 at 01:42 PM.
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post #4 of 17 Old 03-04-2014, 02:07 PM
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Hi Mikey - I'm having a tough time visualizing just what you are doing. Are you putting the flat panel up and then installing the rails and stiles over them?
I just put up a short section about 6 months ago with MDF raised panels and pine rails/stiles. Just rabbeted the back edges of the R&S to accept the panels. The problem I've had with MDF molding is the smaller it gets, the more likely to break while handling. I'm thinking anything less than about 3/4 x 3/4 would be an exercise in frustration.
You could also put a profile right on the edges of the R&S to break up the look.
Good Luck

John

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post #5 of 17 Old 03-04-2014, 02:17 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jschaben View Post
Hi Mikey - I'm having a tough time visualizing just what you are doing. Are you putting the flat panel up and then installing the rails and stiles over them?
I just put up a short section about 6 months ago with MDF raised panels and pine rails/stiles. Just rabbeted the back edges of the R&S to accept the panels. The problem I've had with MDF molding is the smaller it gets, the more likely to break while handling. I'm thinking anything less than about 3/4 x 3/4 would be an exercise in frustration.
You could also put a profile right on the edges of the R&S to break up the look.
Good Luck
Not exactly............... the rails and stiles go up first and then either flat mdf or plywood panels cut to the fit in between each "box". Then the edges of the box will have a simple profile (and will obviously cover the edges of the panel put inside each box). Any detail (profiles, shoes, etc) will be wood, not mdf.

I got this idea from a cbuddy who is a carpenter who did something similar for a couple who wanted a "shallower" recessed panel if that makes sense.
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post #6 of 17 Old 03-04-2014, 02:27 PM
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I had a custom cabinet shop for many years and love wood,but.If it is to be painted MDF is a uniform thickness,Does not move and is easily paintable to a smooth finish.
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post #7 of 17 Old 03-04-2014, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by mikey1973 View Post
Not exactly............... the rails and stiles go up first and then either flat mdf or plywood panels cut to the fit in between each "box". Then the edges of the box will have a simple profile (and will obviously cover the edges of the panel put inside each box). Any detail (profiles, shoes, etc) will be wood, not mdf.

I got this idea from a cbuddy who is a carpenter who did something similar for a couple who wanted a "shallower" recessed panel if that makes sense.
Hi Mikey - OK, I see what you are doing.... Occurs to me that you are needing some pretty small molding (1/2" quarter round maybe?) that will be tough keeping intact with MDF. Good Luck

John

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post #8 of 17 Old 03-04-2014, 03:21 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Mikey - OK, I see what you are doing.... Occurs to me that you are needing some pretty small molding (1/2" quarter round maybe?) that will be tough keeping intact with MDF. Good Luck
Thanks.

I have some pine (or poplar, can't remember) small molding that will fit on the edges of the mdf. Going to glue and throw a couple of pin nails in there and hoping that holds. It might not, we'll see. LOL.
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post #9 of 17 Old 03-04-2014, 03:45 PM
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If you put an applied molding on it, will any part of the edges be exposed? Sounds to me like they might be completely covered....should mean "problem solved"?

"I long for the days when coke was a cola and a joint was a bad place to be" (Merle Haggard)
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post #10 of 17 Old 03-04-2014, 03:50 PM Thread Starter
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If you put an applied molding on it, will any part of the edges be exposed? Sounds to me like they might be completely covered....should mean "problem solved"?
It's close. I have few molding options. One basically covers......... the other is a small quarter round and doesn't. Of course the wife likes the small quarter round because she likes the clean, simple look. Hahahaha.

But as stated by you or someone above, I am going to throw together a sample or two just to see how it looks, etc before slapping things on the wall.
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post #11 of 17 Old 03-04-2014, 04:01 PM
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I am not sure if I get what you are doing. But if you are making panels with trim applied to it, I would look into having a cnc cut the entire panel or at least cut the stiles, rails, and trim as a solid piece and then attach the flat panel to it.
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post #12 of 17 Old 03-04-2014, 05:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikey1973 View Post
Doing a recessed panel wainscoting project. The inside of the panel will be finished with some small trim but there will be a slightly exposed edge of the stiles and rails.

You should never factor in cost for quality but it's not hard to see that I can rip (using prices from Lowes because the prices are easy to find with a quick internet search) a MDF sheet into say ten 3/4 x 4 x 8 inch strips (accounting for screw ups, LOL) for $34 but to get the same number of 1 x 4 x 8 poplar boards would cost $120.

I am leaning towards poplar (or clear pine) but am I being too tough on mdf? All casings would definitely be done in poplar (with a backband) because i suspect those corners get beat up more than just wall paneling. But could I get away with MDF for rails and stiles?

Thanks for any input.
Either I am reading your post wrong, or my math is wrong or something. The way I calculate it I can easily get ten each 4" by 8" pieces out of one board that is 5" wide by 8' long. That certainly would not cost $120.

George
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post #13 of 17 Old 03-04-2014, 06:40 PM Thread Starter
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My apologies if I confused you, George. I had a typo in my first post - not ten 8 inch boards, but rather ten 8 foot boards.
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post #14 of 17 Old 03-04-2014, 07:27 PM
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I used 1/4 inch mdf for the panels used to make drawer fronts, and to skin the end of the cabinet that is exposed. It turned out nice. And I hate mdf sawdust. UGH!

Sorry but I just can get a grip on what your are attempting to do. I used the table saw to cut the tenons and grooves in the rails and stiles for the drawer fronts.
Good luck.
Mike
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post #15 of 17 Old 03-04-2014, 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by MT Stringer View Post
I used 1/4 inch mdf for the panels used to make drawer fronts, and to skin the end of the cabinet that is exposed. It turned out nice. And I hate mdf sawdust. UGH!

Sorry but I just can get a grip on what your are attempting to do. I used the table saw to cut the tenons and grooves in the rails and stiles for the drawer fronts.
Good luck.
Mike
Hi Mike - The way I understand it (mikey, correct me if I'm wrong here), is that he is planning to attach the rails and stiles to the wall first. Then, he is going to cut the panels to fit the openings in the rails and stiles. Lastly, he is going to apply molding over the panels, inside the R&S, to hide any error in the cut edges of the panels. At least that's the way I read it.

John

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post #16 of 17 Old 03-04-2014, 08:28 PM
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Thanks. That makes sense.
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post #17 of 17 Old 03-04-2014, 09:20 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jschaben View Post
Hi Mike - The way I understand it (mikey, correct me if I'm wrong here), is that he is planning to attach the rails and stiles to the wall first. Then, he is going to cut the panels to fit the openings in the rails and stiles. Lastly, he is going to apply molding over the panels, inside the R&S, to hide any error in the cut edges of the panels. At least that's the way I read it.
That's it exactly.....
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