Hardwood Veneer MDF "Plywood"

Does anyone have experience with hardwood veneer MDF? I am building a fireplace surround using pocket hole techniques similar to Gary Katz's article.
http://www.garymkatz.com/TrimTechniques/craftsman_style_mantel_2005.html
He used Mahogany Veneer MDF for the panels but didn't go into detail regarding whether he bought MDF veneer panels or did the veneering himself. The article doesn't discuss finish in any detail. Given the variability of veneer coverings and stain characteristics with stock plywood, I have to wonder if this stuff would stain more consistently. I certainly wouldn't have to worry about movement. I called a local lumberyard this morning to price 1/2" oak veneer plywood and, after he apologized for the price, he offered oak veneer MDF as an alternate. It was a few bucks cheaper.
At this point I'm not concerned about the few bucks, but I am concertned about overall quality, finish-ability, etc.
RonB
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RonB wrote:

You could have wonderfully veneered plywood and crummy veneered MDF. Or you could have the opposite. IOW, the substrate doesn't affect the quality of the veneer *on* the substrate.
All veneered articles are graded according to the quality of the veneer on both sides; i.e., face side is graded and so is the back side. Face side is lettered...A being best, B so-so, etc. (AA is best but you aren't likely to encounter it). Back sides are numbered...1, 2, etc. The stuff at Home Improvement stores is often D-4. Yuch.
--

dadiOH
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wrote:

Try to find out who the board manufacturer is and get the specs on the veneer thickness. It is too often the case that the thickness is less than on a ply based lay up.
Taken to an extreme this can result in different finishing properties for the MDF board v. ply and both will finish differently than solid stock.
When I'm going to add color to the finish of a piece made from a mix of veneered goods and solid stock - and especially if the veneer is on MDF, I run a spit coat first and then put the color in the finish.
In my experience this results in a more even appearance.
Remember
YMMV
Regards,
Tom Watson http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1 /
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As recently stated elsewhere, lay up the veneer yourself. The paper- backed stuff comes in pretty high qualities and soak-through, etc are of no concern. I have no idea what your industrial base is like around where you are, but it shouldn't be that hard to get.
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Oh, and btw, I don't suggest laying it up yourself as a cost-cutting measure, it will likely cost more for the 'good' stuff than the ready- made stuff.
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In article <30d295ff-2e5d-43f3-8a22-d146a1b02086

I've built a large-ish L-shaped desk (~10' to a side) out of veneered mdf panels - all edged with 'real wood' frames 'cause I don't trust mdf to reliably retain hinge screws etc. (three cheers for my bisquit jointer <grins>)
observation 1: The veneer was damned thin. Very very easy to go through with the sanding block. Fortunately I managed to hide the one spot that happened on inside a partition that has drawers in it. Nobody will ever see... and that was despite my being super careful, 'cause I already knew about the likelyhood of that happening. (I had been warned, in other words).
observation 2: it's really really easy to splinter the veneer up off the mdf on the exit side with an ordinary saw blade and/or if your sawblade is not 100% aligned in the cut. This is no joke when it spoils the edge of the panel 2-3 mm back from the cut. I ended up buying an aluminium cutting blade with inverted rake on the carbide teeth, and that did a very clean job. (I cut the panels with my DeWalt skilly, b.t.w. using an aluminium rail clamped to the sheets as fence -- don't have a table saw). A sacrificial sheet of mdf clamped below the cut might have done the trick as well - but how to make sure they're tight in the middle of the run?
Other than that, I found the mdf quite nice to work with in this design. No issues with warping, buckling or twisting ...
-P.
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My experience that veneer on MDF affords a better surface. Thre are not sof spots that get sanded differently during finish sanding and no hollow voids under the veneer. I prefer Plywood/MDF veneer over all wood plywood under veneer.
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Well, this solved itself. The local lumberyard told me they would order a sheet of each and I could decide. The veneer on the MDF was so thin it was invisible at the edge. Couldn't have been painted on thinner. I think I would have gone through the veneer just handling it. The veneer on the plywood wasn't exactly thick but it is sitting in the shop.
Thanks for all of the comments. Time to start workin' on the fireplace in the morning.
RonB
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