I'm going to be making some things for my shop over the next few
weekends, and wanted advice on using MDF or Birch/Apple Ply. I know
MDF is cheaper, but I can afford the Ply if it makes sense. Also, I
want some nice surfaces for the drill table, and router table. For
that want to know should I use Hardboard or Laminate or Meliene (sp?)
The projects I have lined up are:
Drill Press Table
Miter Saw Stand and Cabinets
I just got done making the mobile saw/router center from the Wood
Magazine Idea shop 5. I had previously made the Drill Press table and
I'm quite happy. They are a lot more sturdy than anything you would
make with MDF alone, and cost a lot less then anything you would make
with Birch Ply.
Save the bucks on the Birch Ply for something nice inside your house.
I laminate formica to MDF on all my tops and have been very happy with
I use sandeply from home depot for my cabinets, and hardboard for my
surfaces. The sandeply is cheap plywood with a relatively nice surface.
The hardboard is slick and easily replaceable as necessary.
I use MDF when I need something perfectly flat and stable. I avoid if
it there is any chance of it getting wet or banged up around the edges.
For sacrificial (zero clearance) router table fences, I like the
flatness of MDF. I coat them with 3-5 coats of shellac ( NOT the
dewaxed type), sand them to 1,000 grit, followed by paste wax. They are
VERY slippery after that.
Router table top is Melamine over 1.5" MDF.
Plain old plywood for my sled. Shellacked and waxed.
I like my laminated DP table; I bought that, so not sure if it's
formica--it might be a good quality Melamine.
1/4" hardboard for my bench top--easily and cheaply replaced.
I am using more and more melamine for shop furniture and fixtures. It is
nearly as cheap as MDF and cheaper than baltic birch. You can see some of
the stuff at my site.
I used melamine for my router table because it is flat and already has a
slick finish. I used plywood for the crosscut sled because I was afraid
MDF would just break since it gets moved around so much. I think just
about anything would work for workshop table tops. It doesn't really
matter what the planer is sitting on does it? I have been using
canarywood in strategic places like the miter slot rails on my crosscut
sled because it is dense, stable and doesn't need a finish.
I made a planer stand out of plain old plywood and 2x4s. I used scrap
pieces of 1/2" solid surface material (obtained free from a kitchen/bathroom
cabinet fabricator) for zero clearance inserts. I was thinking of using MDF
to construct a sled and some other jigs but thought that would be awfully
heavy so I used MDO plywood instead. It was mighty expensive but I was
pleased with the results and I have plenty left over for more jigs.
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