MDF Treatment

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Forum topic by rockom posted 02-02-2010 04:00 PM 4796 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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134 posts in 4478 days

02-02-2010 04:00 PM


I was browsing through some old woodworking magazines last night and several projects in one of my “Small Shop” magazine editions use MDF for surfaces trimmed in hard wood. The MDF was darker than usual and I expect was treated somehow. Any idea what they may be using? One of the projects was for a table saw outfeed.

I’ve used MDF for surfaces before and I used past wax to seal it. It works well but needs to be re-applied a couple times a year. The stuff used in the magazine photos looks like it penetrates better than past wax.


-- -> Malta, IL -<

5 replies so far

View PetVet's profile


329 posts in 4095 days

#1 posted 02-02-2010 04:12 PM

I use shellac on it. It really soaks it up, but gives you a finish that provides some protection especially if you wax over the shellac. Maybe they were using an amber shellac?

-- Rich in Richmond -- Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3676 days

#2 posted 02-02-2010 04:39 PM

Over the years, I’ve made several cabinets for the shop that have included MDF (usually as banded tops). For the finish, I’ve used shellac, polyurethane, polycrylic, ........or whatever I have sitting around.

The MDF usually looks really nice – for a couple of months, anyway. Hey, they’re shop cabs, y’know. – lol

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View PurpLev's profile


8554 posts in 4256 days

#3 posted 02-02-2010 05:02 PM

poly will darken the MDF considerably. gives it a uniformed ‘stone’ countertop look – pretty nice to be honest. and also makes it super smooth and slippery. very good as outfeed tables, or anything that requires smooth surface to pass materials on (fence faces, zero clearance inserts, etc).

wouldn’t avoid doing that on a workbench that requires some friction to hold your work pieces to it though

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

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134 posts in 4478 days

#4 posted 02-02-2010 05:11 PM

Oil or water based poly?


-- -> Malta, IL -<

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

6789 posts in 3802 days

#5 posted 02-02-2010 06:37 PM

Greetings, Rocko:...... I’ve built about 5 work benches, 2 made with MDF tops (my main work bench is one). I put about 2—3 coats of danish oil on first, letting each coat dry for an hour or so before the next coat. Once dry. I put on 5—6 coats of a fast-drying polyurethane.. Makes it darker, look good, and protects the tops. Here is a picture of my work bench with it on there….. you can see the difference it makes…... later.

-- " There's a better way.....find it"...... Thomas Edison.

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