Raised Panel Door Question

I've made raised panel doors out of wood. Standard rail and style frame routed with a profile to hold the raised panel in place. The raised panels are made slightly smaller that the rail and style frame opening. Small rubber barrels are put in the slots of the frame to cushion the panel and keep it in place. I assume this is done to compensate for any movement in the wood over time.
I'm now helping friends build their cupboards. These doors will be the same raised panel type but are being made out of MDF. Not my choice, I'm just the helper with the tools.
Is there any reason to make the MDF doors any different than wood doors? Should we make the MDF raised panels smaller than the frame openings, then use the same rubber barrels in the MDF rail and style frame slots?
Can the MDF raised panels be made the same size as the opening in the rail and style frame? If so should the raised panel be glued into place?
LDB
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Hopefully, you're making only the raised panels from MDF. The rails and stiles should still be solid wood: MDF doesn't hold screws very well.

Not necessary, since MDF isn't going to change size with the seasons.

I wouldn't glue it. You'll still want it a trifle smaller than the opening, since solid-wood rails and stiles are going to expand a little bit. This time of year, in the northern hemisphere, you could make it the same size as the opening; as the humidity decreases in the winter months, the rails and stiles will shrink a little bit and make the fit a trifle loose.
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On 7/6/2010 1:34 PM, LdB wrote:

The whole door MDF? Or just the panel? If just the panel, treat it like any other raised panel. If the whole door (bad idea) then do it whatever way is easiest for you.
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MDF doors are VERY common and when coated, quite nice...
Take a peek and then wonder why you are going to go to a LOT of trouble making doors that can be bought rather cheaply....
http://www.cabinetmart.com/shop/Thermofoil-Covered-Doors.43
or Google "thermofoil doors" for a few thousand companies that can do it much faster and much cheaper than you can...
Look for one piece doors for the cheaper variety that will be painted.
The thermofoil comes in a LOT of flavors and colors.
J. Clarke wrote:

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Here is a perfect example with sample pricing...
http://www.cpandwcabinetdoors.com/mdf-cabinet-doors.htm
$15 per door and you are considering making your own doors ???
It ain't fine furniture but it will work in the correct application.
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Thanx for that link! Where? London Ontario
I am just getting around to that stage on my new house, I am building.
MDF doors are VERY common and when coated, quite nice...
Take a peek and then wonder why you are going to go to a LOT of trouble making doors that can be bought rather cheaply....
http://www.cabinetmart.com/shop/Thermofoil-Covered-Doors.43
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Those were just the first ones I saw on a google search.
There are "many" companies that make MDF cabinet doors.
I'm sure there are several in Ontario.
Josepi wrote:

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I am sure there would be in Ontario but I have trouble finding stuff where I am.
The website order form is pretty well done and prices are there without calling to beg for info. A lot of cross reference stuff to do to learn all the terms, though.
Those were just the first ones I saw on a google search.
There are "many" companies that make MDF cabinet doors.
I'm sure there are several in Ontario.
Josepi wrote:

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MDF is pretty stable until you finish it, especially with a water-based finish. Then it swells. If you cut your panels to a close fit and then finish them with, say, water-based polyurethane after assembly, they'll break your rails and stiles apart.
BT,DT. Amen.
Nemo
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So, do it the same as with wood. The panel shrinkage isn't the only purpose of those rubber bits, they also keep it from rattling.
You might use glues that can be softened/removed, and if your friends want to spiff up the place, they can go with wood panels on a future rebuild.
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On 7/6/2010 12:34 PM, LdB wrote:

Thanks for the replies. The doors are completely MDF. Not my choice. I've never used the stuff before and may never use it again. At least not in anything going into my house.
Some salesman did a number on my friends and convinced them that MDF is as good as wood. I tried to change their minds but gave up. The cupboards are going in their house not mine. They bought the material and are doing most of the work. If the cupboards fall apart they can find that salesman and get him to make things right. At least they will use euro hinges on the doors. They should hold fast for some time.
We will build the doors with the rubber barrels. There may be some expansion caused by the paint. That's something I hadn't thought about and I have no idea what they will finish the doors with. The barrels will also prevent rattling as well. I new that, just didn't think about it.
Thanks again. I just thought I could save a bit of time, but when you think about it there's not much difference.
LdB
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On 7/6/2010 7:09 PM, LdB wrote:

They're not going to fall apart but the edges are going to get beat up pretty quickly.

MDF machines really well--you can cut the doors out of a solid piece and machine them to look like raised panel if you have the right tooling.
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"LdB" wrote:

------------------------ If they are going to be painted with latex, be a good idea to seal the MDF with a coat of dewaxed shellac first.
Lew
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If the cupboards fall apart they can

Good luck with that. Will never happen.
The door edges with dent and the paint will chip and then most of the corners will start to clip off and in about a month they will have some really bad looking stuff. Really bad.
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"LdB" wrote:

----------------------------- Sounds like cost is driving all decisions.
Have you tried asking them to consider poplar for rails, stiles and face frames?
The difference in cost might surprise them.
Lew
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On 7/7/2010 12:36 AM, Lew Hodgett wrote:

I tried to convince them to use wood for the rails and stiles. Wasn't going to happen. They wouldn't even consider routing a quarter round around the door edges to minimize dents and chipping of the corners. They're a retired couple, good friends and they both helped me build my house and cupboards. No kids, so the cupboards shouldn't be abused.
Here's an image of the my cupboards. Made from sawmill lumber.
http://www.mts.net/~lmlod/cupboards3.jpg
I will get them to put a coat of sealer on the MDF before they paint. I was thinking a coat of urethane. You suggested dewaxed shellac. Would shellac make a better first coat than urethane?
LdB
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I have used MDF several times for customers at their request. They painted them and were happy, repeadedly. One of my customers re did his kitchen and a few years later moved and did the MDF again. 8 years later he is is still happy and the doors still look great.
With that in mind I do strongly suggest the use of Euro style hinges. These style hinges will support the weight of the doors with out screws, however the screws are necessary to keep the doors from sliding off of the hinge.
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I see little difference in the MDF cabinets being discussed and most of the melamine-coated box cabinets sold in stores. The only difference in most is that the fiber/sawdust material is covered with a plastic skin. In my shop, I made the cabinet doors out of birch faced particle board and they held up perfectly well.
Yes, the European style hinges are the way to go.
Nonny
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