Durable finish on MR MDF MFT-Router table surface

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bp122

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Hello all
I am about to start my MFT-Router table, well, I say "start", I am just making the top and then attaching the short legs on to my mobile base where my table saw used to sit.

Anyway, I have 25mm MR MDF cut to size and everything.
This will be a Router table with MFT capabilities along with Matchfit dovetail grooves on it so it can also work as my assembly table. (Ambitious, I know :D) - Inspired by the table of Dennis from Hooked on Wood.

I am a bit confused as to what finish to go for it. Ideally I would have liked some sort of laminate on it, but I don't know if it is a good idea or not, easy to do or not, what laminate and where to buy the stuff.

My other option was to coat it and seal it with something. some people say Osmo works best. Others swear by some sort of thin varnish (but don't give their secret recipe for the spirit-varnish mix)

My requirement is that the finish is durable to last a few years, and that glue doesn't stick to it too much and can be cleaned easily.

Any advice would be very much appreciated.
P.S - I will be applying the finish before machining the holes and the grooves as per suggestions from online users and some on here as well.
 
Go with the HPL (high pressure laminate) idea applied to both sides for balance. White or an alternative single pale colour is probably best for easiest viewing of the surface for things that might get in the way, e.g., build up of dust, chips that might block progress of the part(s) being machined, and so on.

Places like this sell it if you're not able to find a local source for small offcuts, e.g., a local kitchen manufacturer in or near Thame. Slainte.
 
Thank you for the response. How does the HPL machine? Does it leave a jaggered edge when cut with a router (dovetail grooves and edges)?
 
Does it leave a jaggered edge when cut with a router (dovetail grooves and edges)?
No. But a straight bearing guided router bit will leave a sharp edge that often benefits from softening a bit with a file. Alternatively, you might choose to use a chamfer profiled or an ovolo/round over bearing guided bit to reduce the sharpness. Slainte.
 
I have just finished a similar project and went round the houses on finishing the MR MDF! I ended up just going for multiple coats of sanding sealer and de-nibbed between coats.

Potentially will consider varnishing at some stage depending on wear.

From the research i did, the HPL is an ideal solution... if you can find some at a reasonable cost!
 
Hi all,
On a similar vein I am planning to build some mobile workbenches for my new workshop, so this thread is helpful. I have considered the same sort of things. The HPL route on top/btm of MR MDF is a good one however expensive i.e., £40 /m2 for the white 3mm HPL. I got a quote for a sheet of Formica (10' x 5") which was £106, circa £25 /m2 so nearly half the cost of the HPL.
Alternatively, this link, suggests using a waxed shellac to seal the MDF along with edge banding to provide a more resistant finish. Can You Put Paste Wax On MDF? (What You Really Need To Know)
If you are assembling with glue, then the Formica might be a better option (but seal the holes).
The jury is still out for me but then I am still building my workshop so not pressured yet to make a decision lol.
 
Hi all,
On a similar vein I am planning to build some mobile workbenches for my new workshop, so this thread is helpful. I have considered the same sort of things. The HPL route on top/btm of MR MDF is a good one however expensive i.e., £40 /m2 for the white 3mm HPL. I got a quote for a sheet of Formica (10' x 5") which was £106, circa £25 /m2 so nearly half the cost of the HPL.
Alternatively, this link, suggests using a waxed shellac to seal the MDF along with edge banding to provide a more resistant finish. Can You Put Paste Wax On MDF? (What You Really Need To Know)
If you are assembling with glue, then the Formica might be a better option (but seal the holes).
The jury is still out for me but then I am still building my workshop so not pressured yet to make a decision lol.
I forgot to update the thread. I contacted a mate if mine who happens to with for a company who bond hpl to any substrate you can think of.

He did the table top for me on both sides and it didn't cost my mortgage, so that worked out and saved me the hassle as they did it on their industrial press.
 
Are you planing on the Incra positioner like Dennis has used so you can hang it up when not in routing mode?
Yes, but the DIY kind which has just over 100mm adjustment using the incra locking teeth bits, so I can position it accurately using the parf holes layout. It will be a lot smaller than the incra for that matter but won't be as nice.
 
I forgot to update the thread. I contacted a mate if mine who happens to with for a company who bond hpl to any substrate you can think of.

He did the table top for me on both sides and it didn't cost my mortgage, so that worked out and saved me the hassle as they did it on their industrial press.
That sounds like a good mate indeed. Are able to let me have the name of the company?
Jackie
 
I realise you now have this solved but for the benefit of anyone else with the same dilemma ….

I too couldn’t make up my mind how to finish my workbench with built in router lift and spent far too long trawling the internet for the perfect solution. I think that there are many solutions with equal credibility but I decided to go with Medite MR MDF coated with 3 coats of hard wax oil. After the final coat I went over it with a fine sanding pad on my ROS then changed the pad for a non abrasive white pad, again on the ROS. The finish came up like glass and in the couple of weeks I’ve been using it I am very pleased. Of course I can’t vouch for the longevity yet but should it need it I can sand back and reapply.

I will at some point get round to posting a thread on the workbench build.
 
I realise you now have this solved but for the benefit of anyone else with the same dilemma ….

I too couldn’t make up my mind how to finish my workbench with built in router lift and spent far too long trawling the internet for the perfect solution. I think that there are many solutions with equal credibility but I decided to go with Medite MR MDF coated with 3 coats of hard wax oil. After the final coat I went over it with a fine sanding pad on my ROS then changed the pad for a non abrasive white pad, again on the ROS. The finish came up like glass and in the couple of weeks I’ve been using it I am very pleased. Of course I can’t vouch for the longevity yet but should it need it I can sand back and reapply.

I will at some point get round to posting a thread on the workbench build.
Thanks for sharing. I have other bits that will need a good finish and great to hear you had excellent results. Can you please tell me how you applied the hardwax oil? Did you use a brush or a rag or foam or roller?
 
Thanks for sharing. I have other bits that will need a good finish and great to hear you had excellent results. Can you please tell me how you applied the hardwax oil? Did you use a brush or a rag or foam or roller?

My usual method and also the method I used here is to apply with a white non abrasive pad(I use Norton pads but presumably they are no different to scothbrite pads and floor machine pads). I scrub the hard wax oil in spreading it around and back again as it absorbs then remove all excess with a rag until no more is left on the surface. I applied quite genourously on the MDF as it is really absorbent(this may not be the right thing to do as instructions say apply thinly but I didn’t notice any ill effect). It was probably on for about 10-15 minutes before wiping off, and I gave it a quick scrub back over with the white pad before wiping it off. (So the short answer is white pad and rag, haha!)

For info, the reason I like the white pad for application is it’s easy to spread out and rub in and although it’s non abrasive I find it helps to de nibb as it goes leaving a very smooth finish. Plus you can cut to any size you want depending on the size of your project.

I usually use osmo but on this occasion I used Fiddes which seemed thicker and didn’t wipe off as easily, leaving a slightly streaked finish, but the final light sand and buff removed most of the marks.

I should point out that I’m no expert with hard wax oil or any finish for that matter, but I’ve used the hard wax oil for quite a few projects now and get very good results. I find it quite easy to use.

Hope this helps.
 
…. In fairness to my comparison between Osmo and Fiddes…. Fiddes is definitely thicker but I’ve only used it on this MDF bench and I’ve only used Osmo on actual woods(hard and soft)
 

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