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Forum topic by simeltzer posted 11-11-2018 03:31 PM 464 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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simeltzer

6 posts in 637 days


11-11-2018 03:31 PM

Hey guys, Im down here in Houston, which is moderately humid most of the year. I would like to use MDF for some shop jigs and other shop furniture. My garage is not climate controlled, unfortunately. Will the MDF hold up ok? Or is the humidity alone enough to make this impractical? Thanks for the tips….


13 replies so far

View BroncoBrian's profile

BroncoBrian

875 posts in 2374 days


#1 posted 11-11-2018 06:10 PM

Moderately humid? Have you been anywhere else? Houston is VERY humid, MOST of the time.

I was in The Woodlands for a long time. My garage cabinets had MDF (3/4”) doors and they warped over a few years. For small jigs it can be ok, but good birch (waxed) is better. Plus good birch is friendly to a router so you can make some really great jigs with it that won’t cut your fingers.

What shop furniture are you thinking?

-- A severed foot is the ultimate stocking stuffer.

View LesB's profile

LesB

2122 posts in 3859 days


#2 posted 11-11-2018 09:18 PM

Have you check to see if you local supplier carries Exterior grade MDF. That should solve your problem.

-- Les B, Oregon

View Mike_D_S's profile

Mike_D_S

595 posts in 2631 days


#3 posted 11-12-2018 12:37 AM

I’m in Houston, so I think about humidity some.

Small shop jigs, limited use jigs, or jigs where perfect stability is not necessarily critical then go nuts with the MDF.

Shop furniture and jigs I need to be right and stay right, then baltic birch is my go to. Bought in full size 5×5 sheets from the local lumber places, it’s not all that much more than MDF and you can use it for more stuff like internal bracing in furniture, etc where nobody will ever see it, but MDF is not going to cut it.

Mike

-- No honey, that's not new, I've had that forever......

View simeltzer's profile

simeltzer

6 posts in 637 days


#4 posted 11-12-2018 12:47 AM

Thanks for the replies fellas. You’re right Brian I sorta downplayed the humidity – its brutal. I was mostly thinking of like table saw sleds, miter saw fence, and maybe assembly table top. I am not really familiar with exterior MDF but could certainly look into it. I have never worked with Baltic birch yet, mostly maple ply and Purebond. I actually thought about getting some for a project last week though.

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Mike_D_S

595 posts in 2631 days


#5 posted 11-12-2018 12:55 AM

Baltic birch bought at a lumberyard (my normal place carries 3/4 BB in 4×8 or 5×5) is priced pretty competitively to just about everything else. Lack of voids, consistent thicknesses and strength makes it my standard for structural plywood in just about everything.

-- No honey, that's not new, I've had that forever......

View simeltzer's profile

simeltzer

6 posts in 637 days


#6 posted 11-12-2018 01:03 AM

Can you get true BB in 4×8? What does a 5×5 sheet cost you and where in Houston do you go?

View Mike_D_S's profile

Mike_D_S

595 posts in 2631 days


#7 posted 11-12-2018 04:02 AM

Well, I guess for certain values of “true” it may not be true baltic birch. But its void free, looks the same as the 5×5 sheets I buy and its tough to pick out which pieces in the scrap pile came from where.

This link goes to an older thread where some of the local Houston places are discussed. I listed my normal places there as well. You may find it helpful in general.

http://lumberjocks.com/topics/169626

Mike

-- No honey, that's not new, I've had that forever......

View Scap's profile

Scap

78 posts in 343 days


#8 posted 11-12-2018 01:14 PM

Check with Mason’s, on Tanner, they have been cheaper than Houston Hardwoods and Clark’s on most everything I’ve price checked them on.

The downside is they aren’t open on weekends, so you have to plan accordingly.

View DS's profile

DS

3184 posts in 2836 days


#9 posted 11-12-2018 01:22 PM

You might consider MDO (Medium Density Overlay).
It is a material used for road signs and is waterproof (resistant?).
This stuff is very stable an makes excellent shop jigs.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View Robert's profile

Robert

3434 posts in 1897 days


#10 posted 11-12-2018 02:35 PM

It will be fine.

I’m in Swampyville, FL I’ve never had a problem with humidity affecting MDF but it can mildew. Although of course water is a disaster.

I don’t like using it for sleds due to the weight, but I’ve used in in many other appliications like assembly tops. Keep a good coat of poly on it.

Yes, there are cheap grades out there, but IMO it is unnecessary to buy extremely expensive authentic baltic birch unless you just want to. My hardwood distributor sells different grades in 4×8 sheets. I’ve used the Russian stuff and it seems to be a very good product. IIRC its about $60 a sheet.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View Blindhog's profile

Blindhog

124 posts in 1465 days


#11 posted 11-12-2018 03:42 PM

Check with your local lumber yards (not BB stores) for waterproof MDF/O. It is heavy but makes excellent jigs, etc. and will not warp/mildew.

-- Don't let perfection get in the way of plenty good enough

View simeltzer's profile

simeltzer

6 posts in 637 days


#12 posted 11-12-2018 03:50 PM

Awesome advice from everyone. I know exactly where Mason’s is and Im not too far. Brian, the link you sent is also helpful. Im a longtime hobbyist and DIYer slowly migrating towards more focused woodworking. New to LJ and really appreciate everyones time and advice. This is a great resource

View ArtMann's profile

ArtMann

1396 posts in 1232 days


#13 posted 11-12-2018 04:26 PM

I live in Alabama, which has a similar climate to Houston. I used MDF to build a precision adjustable router table fence. I applied a couple of coats of old Minwax wipe on varnish after I was done. It has been in use for many years now and is still accurate. I prefer not to leave an MDF jig unfinished because of moisture absorption.

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