Quantcast
  • We invite you to join UKWorkshop.
    Members can turn off viewing Ads!

What would you use instead of MDF

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

Alan L

Established Member
Joined
17 Mar 2004
Messages
27
Reaction score
0
Location
Middx
Most of my woodworking projects at the moment are driven by home improvements. I stumbled across this site a few months ago and have found it very interesting, informative and made me think more about the projects I am doing.

Reading the various threads about the pros/cons of using MDF has been very interesting. I admit to using the stuff for making some simple units and boxing in work. One of the reasons for this is because it is cheap and readily available another is apart from real wood what are the real alternatives? The ply and chipboard I have seen have not been upto much.
 

Newbie_Neil

Established Member
Joined
27 Jul 2003
Messages
6,537
Reaction score
0
Location
Nottingham, England
Hi Alan

Alan L":2n3mkvmt said:
One of the reasons for this is because it is cheap and readily available another is apart from real wood what are the real alternatives? The ply and chipboard I have seen have not been up to much.
You've hit the nail on the head, what are the alternatives apart from real wood?

Personally, I think it's very much horses for courses. I would use mdf in preference to chipboard everytime.

Birch ply is excellent, but costs about three times as much as mdf.

Apart from real wood, what else do people use?

Cheers
Neil
 

Adam

Established Member
Joined
10 Sep 2003
Messages
3,768
Reaction score
0
Location
UK
Newbie_Neil":1cg1jjxx said:
Hi Alan

Alan L":1cg1jjxx said:
One of the reasons for this is because it is cheap and readily available another is apart from real wood what are the real alternatives? The ply and chipboard I have seen have not been up to much.
You've hit the nail on the head, what are the alternatives apart from real wood?

Personally, I think it's very much horses for courses. I would use mdf in preference to chipboard everytime.

Birch ply is excellent, but costs about three times as much as mdf.

Apart from real wood, what else do people use?

Cheers
Neil
Although it is "real wood" pine board (slats of pine glued up into wide shelf sized boards) is something I've had quite good success with in the past.

Adam
 

johnelliott

Established Member
Joined
16 Apr 2003
Messages
1,105
Reaction score
0
Location
Near Swindon, Wiltshire
Birch ply is the obvious alternative. Although the pine boards that Adam mentioned can look good but will expand and contract across the grain and this may be problematic depending on what is being made
Birch ply is a lot more expensive than MDF, I pay getting on for £35 inc vat and del for 8x4 18mm birch ply, but that's only just over £1 a square foot, and compared with the other costs, especially your time, doesn't seem to bad.
Birch ply paints well, take screws well, pocket screws are ideal for joining pieces at right angles. It is virtually impervious to water damage.
The top laminations are inclined to produce splinters, so need to be rounded over with a bit of abrasive to be made safe.
I use it for all my cabinetry
John
 

Chris Knight

Established Member
Joined
14 Jan 2004
Messages
6,641
Reaction score
3
Location
SE London - NW Kent
I vote for birch ply (but there are differences between the Baltic and the Russian stuff - details somewhere on this site I think) .
I do find that quality varies and some suppliers store their ply so badly it comes to you warped even before you have had a chance to ruin it yourself!

MDF is usually much better in that regard (flatness) in my experience, whatever its other pros and cons.

I have been quite pleasantly surprised by the cheapest ply I can get locally, called "construction ply" by my supplier, its veneers are rather thick cut fir(?) ply but it stays flat even in a damp garage. I have not tried to use it where I would use MDF or Birch ply but it keeps tempting me. There is little doubt it would need a good deal more surface preparation than either Birch Ply or MDF but at about one third the cost of Birch ply it may just be worth it.
 

ProShop

Established Member
Joined
19 Apr 2004
Messages
1,050
Reaction score
0
Location
North Lincolnshire
I agree with Chris on the Construction ply, usually available from most good
builders merchants and trade timber yards. You usually get one good side, I always go and pick my own (much to the annoyance of the yardsman) :).
And as Chris says just needs a bit more prep when finishing.

The only MDF I've bought is some 4mt lengths of 125mm taurus skirting and 75mm matching architrave.
Worth a look :D
 

Midnight

Established Member
Joined
11 Oct 2003
Messages
1,805
Reaction score
0
Location
Scotland
I use baltic birch for all my case work thesedays; 6mm for the backs, 12mm elsewhere. Cost is around £25-27 / sheet, with a discount for bulk purchase. I can shave a little bit off the price by doing my own delivery; my supplier's less than a mile from here. I buy cabinet grade; 1 grade down from perfect on both sides; any defect in the external plies being patched with Dutchmen. 12 mil has all the strength I need, cuts and machines really well with good chip resistance and doesn't strain the ticker too much when manhandling. Selling point for me was zero internal voids...
Properly edged and braced with some local hardwood, it looks really nice, and as John says, it takes a finish well.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I also use a lot of ply with hardwood facing where necessary. I've also used blockboard where I've needed serious strength (bookshelves in offices for example), but it would defintely put some serious strain on Midnight's ticker :lol:
 

Midnight

Established Member
Joined
11 Oct 2003
Messages
1,805
Reaction score
0
Location
Scotland
but it would defintely put some serious strain on Midnight's ticker
tell me about it... I used this stuff to make the top of my router table... if ya want the offcut.... come fetch it yersel.. ;P~
 

cambournepete

Established Member
Joined
29 Mar 2004
Messages
2,710
Reaction score
0
Location
Rangiora, South Island, Aotearoa
Midnight":10kxthd1 said:
I use baltic birch for all my case work thesedays; 6mm for the backs, 12mm elsewhere.
So you reckon that 12mm is fine for bookshelves then?
I'm asking, because I've got lots to build next year. Also do you use then iron-on edging strip or something a bit thicker?

Pete
 

johnelliott

Established Member
Joined
16 Apr 2003
Messages
1,105
Reaction score
0
Location
Near Swindon, Wiltshire
For shelves I would be inclined to use 18mm. I am going to experiment with iron-on edging myself shortly, but so far haven't had anyone objecting to a sanded, danish oiled and varnished edge with the laminations showing
John
 

Midnight

Established Member
Joined
11 Oct 2003
Messages
1,805
Reaction score
0
Location
Scotland
So you reckon that 12mm is fine for bookshelves then?
Pete, the critical aspect isn't the ply thickness, but the depth of brace you use to support the shelf. As the length of the shelf increases, the shelf deflection caused by the load also increases. Without suitable bracing, even 18mm ply will hang like Nora Batty's stockings if the span is wide enough. To date, the widest span I've made is 1016mm braced with 25x50 hardwood (Sapeli in this case); fully loaded, the shelf sags maybe 2mm at the centre. The last shelves I built spanned 746mm with the same 25x50 bracing (Oak this time); they didn't move at all when loaded.

In both instances, I stuck with mouldings from solid to cap the ply end grain rather than use veneer tape; too many bad experiences with tape longevity (store bought stuff).
 

johnelliott

Established Member
Joined
16 Apr 2003
Messages
1,105
Reaction score
0
Location
Near Swindon, Wiltshire
One good trick with birch ply for shelves, ply (and most other man-made boards) has a slight curve along their length. Make sure the curve is up, amd the pre-load will often result in a reasonably straight shelf!
John
 

Latest posts

Top