Using MDF for furniture style projects

  • Advertise with us

« back to Designing Woodworking Projects forum

Forum topic by MT_Stringer posted 03-21-2013 06:15 PM 3802 views 0 times favorited 32 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View MT_Stringer's profile


3183 posts in 3738 days

03-21-2013 06:15 PM

Just wondering what y’alls thoughts are about using MDF for furniture type projects?

Personally, I don’t are for it…and it is really messy with the dust (even with dust collection).

I have several projects ahead of me to build (and give price quotes). One of which is similar to this.

One will be stained and one will be painted (YUK!).

I have access to just about any kind of material I need from a local hardwood lumber yard. No doubt, cost is a factor so it would be beneficial if I can keep the cost of materials down. My thinking is if I build one, I will probably get requests for more so I want to make sure I get it right the first time. :-)

Your thoughts appreciated.


-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

32 replies so far

View ratchet's profile


1391 posts in 4294 days

#1 posted 03-21-2013 06:28 PM

I stay away from it all costs.

View higtron's profile


253 posts in 3185 days

#2 posted 03-21-2013 06:30 PM

It’s great for painted projects I built some pantry shelving units for some friends they turned out great I was able to do all the cutting and, routing outside with a stand fan pushing the dust away fom me. You have to think about sagging for the shelves themselves I added stiffeners across the fronts and a cleat at the backs.

-- A friend will help you move, a good friend will help you move a body

View ChrisK's profile


2037 posts in 3589 days

#3 posted 03-21-2013 06:32 PM

If you are making a lot of something it might be beneficial cost wise to use MDF or other low cost material in areas where it does not make a difference. However, I found that unless you can replace several sheets or board feet of pricier material it is not worth the effort.

I have used MDF on a lot of projects that are painted, because it is less cost and paints easier. Other than the weight I like the way it machines.

-- Chris K

View upinflames's profile


217 posts in 2669 days

#4 posted 03-21-2013 06:53 PM

In my neck of the woods it’s cheaper to get paint grade plywood than it is to get MDF. Even if you paint MDF, the least amount of moister to get in at a scratch or dent, it’s headed for the burn pile.

View MT_Stringer's profile


3183 posts in 3738 days

#5 posted 03-21-2013 07:14 PM

Good answers. That’s kind of what I was thinking also.

I think for sure I am going to make one of those kitchen islands out of white pine with pine beadboard and stain it. That’s is what my sister in law wants. Cutting board top shouldn’t be a problem for me to make. I have made some before.

The other SIL probably wants hers painted white. UGH! I will have to research what paint to use and how to get a smooth finish. Prolly paint the beadboard first, then install it.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View Marty5965's profile


161 posts in 2453 days

#6 posted 03-21-2013 07:19 PM

I would have not considered MDF for furniture either…..until I saw this guys work:

To be fair, he uses plywood as well but his stuff is beautiful.

I guess it’s not necessarily about what it’s made out of, but how it looks.

-- Marty, Wilmington, OH, learning every day....

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3666 days

#7 posted 03-21-2013 07:35 PM

It’s heavy. That, more than anything, makes me not want to use it for furniture.

-- jay,

View Woodknack's profile


12905 posts in 2888 days

#8 posted 03-21-2013 07:49 PM

For kitchens use plywood. I built a nightstand from MDF, painted it. I really didn’t think it would last long but I built it around 10 years ago and my daughter is using it now, it’s as solid as the day I built it. The biggest downside was all the dust.

-- Rick M,

View RockyTopScott's profile


1186 posts in 3986 days

#9 posted 03-21-2013 08:42 PM

Marty5965, I have watched all of Andy Pitts videos. He is an unreal craftsman.

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

View fstellab's profile


86 posts in 2593 days

#10 posted 03-21-2013 09:12 PM


MDF is not allowed in my shop any longer. I creates really nasty fine dust that is very had to clean, it some places its almost like a paste. I am sure it not any good for you lungs and nose.

I cut 2 shallow dados for a table saw sled, the packed dust got every where, its like a fine dirt. I am still finding in places.

I might use MDF if it really fit the project, but I will not rout or cut it in doors.

-- Fred Stellabotte ([email protected])

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


5974 posts in 2916 days

#11 posted 03-21-2013 11:07 PM

I used it form making the tops for my workbenches, glued two 3/4” pieces together and lamainated. It works well for this but I am not much to work with it for much else. It has some good uses but if I make a piece of furniture I want to show off the wood, not paint. Maybe it is just me…. (laughing)

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View shipwright's profile


8380 posts in 3305 days

#12 posted 03-21-2013 11:57 PM

MDF is an excellent substrate for marquetry and veneering in general as it is very flat and uniform and unlikely to move. Many fine furniture pieces are made with an MDF base but you’d never know it. For utilitarian pieces however I’d go with good paint grade birch.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View runswithscissors's profile


3071 posts in 2533 days

#13 posted 03-22-2013 12:44 AM

I’m imagining archeologists in a few hundred years or more running into particle board and mdf furniture. Will any of it still be intact? If moisture gets to it, seems they would find only clumps of brown sludge, maybe with a marquetry overlay.

Could anyone ever regard a well-aged piece of Ikea furniture as a valuable antique? I suppose so (sigh). Stranger things have happened.

Maybe even particle board stuff with wood-grain contact paper will be looked on with admiration. (gag)

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View Woodknack's profile


12905 posts in 2888 days

#14 posted 03-22-2013 08:06 AM

Any furniture will degrade over time if you don’t take care of it.

-- Rick M,

View TheRoux90318's profile


30 posts in 2679 days

#15 posted 03-22-2013 08:27 AM

Made shelving for pantry and a couple low profile show racks for the Bride using MDF…all painted. Not worth much of any other use IMHO.


showing 1 through 15 of 32 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics