Glad I caught my mistake! Does Poplar and MDF paint up about the same? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 07-24-2020, 11:31 PM Thread Starter
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Glad I caught my mistake! Does Poplar and MDF paint up about the same?

So I am building my first cabinet and it is fairly simple. It is part of a custom sized built in that is going in an odd sized alcove. It will have doors on the bottom with a single wide (but shallow) drawer on the top. I have finished the main panel box and it looks really good (in my humble opinion, of course) and it fits really well in the space. I used 3/4 MDF for the panel box and the stretchers. For the stretchers, no worries on sagging because they will have face frame rails along each of them, so that will prevent that.

I was about to make, what I now realize, is a potential bad mistake. I had planned on using MDF also for the face frame rails and stiles. I was thinking it over, about to cut the pieces and then it dawned on me that I had decided to go with Blum 39C's and that would require me screwing them to the edge grain of the MDF. Maybe it would work, but I am thinking it isn't the best idea if I intend the doors to stay on the cabinet!

For the doors, I plan on making fake rail and stile (I guess this is synonymous with shaker-style, but a more correct term?) doors. I planned on using 1/2" blondewood plywood for the main door panel and glue up some 1/4" MDF for the rails and stiles.

I plan on making the drawer box out of 3/4" MDF and will using either a regular or locking rabbet (haven't decided yet), glued and pinned, with a 3/4" MDF front. (That being said, it is entirely possible I will actually use 3/4" oak plywood for the box mainly because I will enough for it that I have been trying to do something with for half a year now.

I will be painting it all with a sprayer, after sealing the MDF and priming appropriately, of course.

I live in a rural area and my choices of hardwood are fairly non-existent and I only have the pretty crappy options at Lowes for hardwood; rather, something other than SPF. As I have been making other things and learning, I have really become comfortable with poplar and it has looked really great on a desk and some floating shelves I made. It is still way more expensive than it should be since it is coming from Lowes, but way cheaper than the other hardwoods.

So, while I know Poplar isn't necessarily the best option for the face frame rail and stiles, but is is certainly better than MDF, I will assume. All that said, will painting the MDF and poplar lead to a mostly uniform appearance?

I may have made some of you folks cringe with what I am doing, but again, this is a learning experience and it just needs to be "good enough" and work well. Just trying to finish this up but not spend a ton of money since this is in the house we have lived in for 16 years, but are remodeling so that we can sell it later on.
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post #2 of 4 Old 07-25-2020, 01:32 AM
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Poplar should be fine for holding the doors, especially if the hardware has a 2 hole mount instead of the 1 hole to the frame. Its a very smooth wood, so it should paint well.

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post #3 of 4 Old 07-27-2020, 04:03 PM
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Building with MDF will require some strength as MDF is very heavy also.

Tony B Retired woodworker, among other things.

"Strive for excellence and settle for completion" Tony B
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post #4 of 4 Old 07-28-2020, 10:51 AM
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Actually, poplar and soft maple are the two best woods for painted cabs and face frames. Don't worry about dark areas in poplar. I recommend 2 coats of a shellac based primer (BIN) sand with 220 between coats will give you an excellent result.

Plywood doors are prone to warping or bending you might want to reconsider that.

I would also reconsider building the drawers out of MDF.

1/2" ply is, again probably the most used material for the drawers.

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