Ply or MDF for Cabinet Panels - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 18 Old 03-04-2015, 07:43 PM Thread Starter
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Ply or MDF for Cabinet Panels

Hello all.

I'm building some cabinet doors for my mud room built in, birch cope and stick frame with panel construction.

I have always used birch ply for the panels until now, but since I'm painting these doors, I could use MDF. I've never really considered using MDF for panels, but since it's less expensive, it could be a good option.

So, do y'all have any opinions as to why MDF would be a bad choice for painted panels?

Thanks!
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post #2 of 18 Old 03-04-2015, 07:47 PM
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As long as you keep the MDF dry it will work fine. The only thing I would recommend is sanding the face of it prior to finishing. Often there is such a build up of formaldehyde on the surface it screws with the paint.
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post #3 of 18 Old 03-04-2015, 10:48 PM
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its cheap and stable. I havent quite figured out the best way to paint a routed surface though.

I can paint the factory surface or a cut edge, but when I route a raised panel door and paint that exposed surface, it gets quite bumpy from the water in the paint and the "fuzzy" routed edge. Maybe you could sand it down after the first coat, but thats alot of finish work.
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post #4 of 18 Old 03-04-2015, 11:10 PM
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Excluding the stuff ways a ton the off gassing can go on for over a yr, some people are sensitive, others very. The only things I ever used it for was counter tops and my RAS table and jigs.

Work smart not hard!
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post #5 of 18 Old 03-05-2015, 08:36 AM
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I have found different qualities of MDF too. The HD MDF is pretty bad...and as mentioned above cannot be sanded well. At a local lumber store, I did buy some that was more yellow than brown. Cut edges sanded and held up way better. What I have most about MDF is the dust.
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post #6 of 18 Old 03-05-2015, 02:38 PM
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Being a carpenter your first thought is to always go with wood however mdf panels are more economical and stable. As mentioned some do gas and can cause a problem for some people. Ive never had a problem with them and as far as finishing the routed portion some mdf routs better than others so when I run across that problem I sand once with 150 and then apply hide glue sand again and for me does the trick.
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post #7 of 18 Old 03-06-2015, 08:54 AM
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MDF, or glorified particle board has some advantages and disadvantages.

Price is an advantage.

Painting is an advantage, provided you use a higher viscosity oil based paint. Using a woodworking finish, it will just soak right in and leave a rough surface.

It does not hold screws well, but if this will be your panel within the cope and stick frame, you should be OK.

It is very heavy, compared to ply, this will put a lot more load on your hinges.

Use an organic mask when cutting and sanding, the dust is bad news.

Pure mathematics is, in it's way, the poetry of logical ideas. - Albert Einstein.
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post #8 of 18 Old 03-06-2015, 06:16 PM
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Mdf was the choice for the cabinet shop I used to work for. We used the exterior grade mdf.
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post #9 of 18 Old 03-21-2015, 07:50 PM
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Main problem with MDF is its affinity for water, which causes it to swell.

I have just replaced a bathroom vanity unit which had a hot water flex hose fail inside it.

This happened in the early hours and we woke to steam throughout the house.

The vanity unit was a total wreck and soaked until the plastic covering peeled.

Hot water flowed out the bathroom sliding door which, was also a factory made MDF job

and whoever trimmed it to fit did not reseal the lower edge, which swelled and jammed the door.

I had to use a pry bar to get into the bathroom. So, be prepared for a bit of work if you use MDF

in a wet situation. I have replaced the vanity unit and the door with the same, as other materials

are just not available. I did make sure however that the new unit and the door had extra coats of

sealing where ever it had been worked. We can but hope that is enough!

If I could find cabinets made from marine ply, I would be very happy to invest in them.

Bobthequill
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post #10 of 18 Old 03-27-2015, 01:01 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone. I went with a 1/2" birch ply panel. It turns out that I had some left over from a previous project!
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post #11 of 18 Old 04-13-2015, 11:41 AM
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I had to use a pry bar to get into the bathroom. So, be prepared for a bit of work if you use MDF.
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post #12 of 18 Old 04-13-2015, 11:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cburdick1 View Post
Thanks everyone. I went with a 1/2" birch ply panel. It turns out that I had some left over from a previous project!
I am a little late, but here are a couple of pics. I built some cabinets for my mom's tiny kitchen. I used mdf for the drawer front panels, and skimmed the side of the cabinet facing the refrigerator with 1/4 inch mdf. They turned out pretty nice and she loves the drawers (she is 87).
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post #13 of 18 Old 04-13-2015, 02:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MT Stringer
I am a little late, but here are a couple of pics. I built some cabinets for my mom's tiny kitchen. I used mdf for the drawer front panels, and skimmed the side of the cabinet facing the refrigerator with 1/4 inch mdf. They turned out pretty nice and she loves the drawers (she is 87).
Nice MT Stringer. Quick question- on the drawer fronts, did you use 1/4" mdf as the panel in the rail/style grooves? If so, does that seem thick enough to support the drawer pulls? The cabinets look great btw.
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post #14 of 18 Old 04-13-2015, 05:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Masterjer View Post
Nice MT Stringer. Quick question- on the drawer fronts, did you use 1/4" mdf as the panel in the rail/style grooves? If so, does that seem thick enough to support the drawer pulls? The cabinets look great btw.
Thanks. After thinking about it, I realized that I used 1/2 inch and cut the back a little (rabbet) so the panel would fit in the cope and stick.

The drawer pulls are fastened through the mdf and the front of the drawer.

The drawers are built like this picture of our buffet drawer. Basic drawer box with the front attached.
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Last edited by MT Stringer; 04-13-2015 at 05:29 PM. Reason: Added info.
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post #15 of 18 Old 05-04-2015, 04:30 AM
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I built my entire kitchen using melamine caucuses. Then faced everything with different hard woods. We painted the cabinets white so it work fine.

Melamine is water resistant and super hard. The exterior white coating is tough to drill though even.
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post #16 of 18 Old 05-04-2015, 04:34 AM
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Melamine and mixed hard wood face frames and full over lay shaker doors.
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post #17 of 18 Old 05-05-2015, 12:24 PM
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Melamine is pretty much the standard for kitchens and bathrooms in my country and probably most of the E.U but a local furniture maker once told me that if you build something to last, you should use Sea Plywood, which resists water and is more sturdy than all the Melamines and MDFs. Of course you will seal it thoroughly as an extra reinforcement.

It comes in veneers too.

Anyone tried it?
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post #18 of 18 Old 05-09-2015, 09:37 AM
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We call it MARINE PLYWOOD. I have used it when making a boat.

Dale in Indy
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