need MDF advise

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Forum topic by Karda posted 03-01-2020 06:06 AM 671 views 0 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2195 posts in 1283 days

03-01-2020 06:06 AM

I have a plywood work bench and the surface is starting to wear, would MDF be an acceptable material to use to resurface it. This bench get used but i don’t use it that hard. thanks

28 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6164 posts in 3222 days

#1 posted 03-01-2020 12:09 PM

MDF is used on a lot of benches, but usually in multiple layers, or as a covering on something. One of it’s weaknesses is the flexibility it has, if you lay i between 2 sawhorses it will sag badly….so it’s needs support. Consider just putting a piece of it over the plywood you now have.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Don W's profile

Don W

19608 posts in 3296 days

#2 posted 03-01-2020 12:27 PM

I’d prefer a piece of plywood. Oak faced would be nice but a piece of AC would do

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View ChefHDAN's profile


1596 posts in 3578 days

#3 posted 03-01-2020 02:05 PM

Take a look at tempered hard board. I’ve built a few benches that I top with an 1/8th tempered hardboard sheet, (runs like $20 for a 4’x’8 sheet) You can cut the sheet to nearly the size of the top. Secure the top with a few pieces of 2x sided carpet tape and then use a flush trim bit in the router to get it exact size. I then use a hardwood to wrap the edges flush to the top of the hardboard, and put a slight roundover on the hardwood edge. This works well to give a smooth even top for the bench that is easily replaceable when worn. You just use the existing as a template and get the flush trim bit in the router again and it’s simple to get an exact match.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View tvrgeek's profile


937 posts in 2378 days

#4 posted 03-01-2020 02:16 PM

MDF is very soft and absorbent. Two of my benches I top with Mealimine PB as it is pretty cheap and gives a nice bright smooth surface that you can wipe spills off of. I have also done as ChefDan says. A quick coat of poly makes it more durable, but very dark.

View JackDuren's profile


1127 posts in 1688 days

#5 posted 03-01-2020 02:40 PM

I used a 3/4 piece of particle board on my work bench for 15 years. Never had a problem. I only changed a year ago when I got a free 3’×7’ 8/4 hickory butcher block. Every once I a while I would coat it with Johnsons paste wax to keep the glue from absorbing. .....

View LittleShaver's profile


650 posts in 1348 days

#6 posted 03-01-2020 03:24 PM

+1 on Tempered hardboard. Slap a coat of shellac on it and a coat of wax. Glue will pop right off and it’s any easy surface to renew.

-- Sawdust Maker

View Karda's profile


2195 posts in 1283 days

#7 posted 03-01-2020 05:07 PM

thanks for the hard board I hadn’t thought of that. This is not the bench top it is a cover. The bench top is layered 3/4” plywood

View BattleRidge's profile


149 posts in 945 days

#8 posted 03-01-2020 06:17 PM

I recommend tempered hardboard too and it makes a great surface to work on, is quite durable and easy to replace. Mine is fastened with double sided tape and surrounded by modified oak trim.

-- ~Art~

View pottz's profile


9362 posts in 1713 days

#9 posted 03-01-2020 07:43 PM

another vote for hard board ive used it for years and really takes a beating,i coat the top with paste wax so glue is easier to remove.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View Karda's profile


2195 posts in 1283 days

#10 posted 03-01-2020 08:38 PM

ok thanks

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5275 posts in 4689 days

#11 posted 03-01-2020 09:01 PM

Just a suggestion:
Use Extera or any other exterior rated MDF. Stuff is strong, water resistant, and very stable. I’ve used it on several outdoor apps as well as jigs, fences for tooling, etc. Money well spent in my estimation.

-- [email protected]

View Karda's profile


2195 posts in 1283 days

#12 posted 03-01-2020 09:06 PM

ok thanks

View gerrym526's profile


285 posts in 4537 days

#13 posted 04-06-2020 09:51 PM

I’ve built worktables and workbenches using MDF for the tops. Like the weight and flatness of 3/4” MDF, but be prepared to wrestle 80lb sheets. If you want to use lighter material, I’d recommend 1/2” MDF over some plywood underlayment. If the top is going to get dinged from use, I’d screw it down so it’s replaceable when you need to.
As far as finish, I’ve simply coated the tops with 2-3 coats of paste wax. The surface is slick and easy to wipe dust from, the wax protects against most stains, and if you use the workbench for glue-ups, the paste wax keeps the glue from sticking to the top.

-- Gerry

View Karda's profile


2195 posts in 1283 days

#14 posted 04-07-2020 03:18 AM

thanks MDF or hard boardis probably what I will go with

View WoodenDreams's profile


1028 posts in 640 days

#15 posted 04-07-2020 08:47 AM

all of my work benches are premium high density MDF board. my assembly/glue-up station is 2”x2’x8’ MDF with double sided melamine from Menards. It does take much effort to screw another sheet of MDF or it if needed, and the double side melamine work bench top I can flip it over to the other side if needed.

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