Does anyone have experience with hardwood veneer MDF? I am building a
fireplace surround using pocket hole techniques similar to Gary Katz's
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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 ...
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
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.
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