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  1. #1
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    Dec 2002
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    Southeastern, Michigan, USA.
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    MDF Cabinet Joinery

    I want to make a mini "entertainment center" for our bedroom TV that we'll probably use less than a year. I'd like to make it entirely out of MDF and then paint it because I can route some nice edges on the MDF, it takes paint well, and it's cheap.

    But I'm wondering about the best way to handle the joinery, particularly the shelves joining to the sides of the cabinet. My current plan is to just screw through the side into the edge of the shelf (pre-drilling of course) and then plug the screw head with putty, sand and paint.

    Just wondering if anyone found anything different that might work better, a special kind of glue, biscuits, whatever.

    Any tips or other ideas?

    Thanks,
    Bob

  2. #2
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    RE: MDF Cabinet Joinery

    Bob, are you talking about butt jointing the shelves to the side? I would suggest cutting a dado in the side for those shelves. I would also dado or glue joint the case.

    Billy B.

    Live a life of thankfulness; if for no other reason, that you have life.

  3. #3
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    Tucson, AZ, USA.
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    RE: MDF Cabinet Joinery

    The latest issue of this old house magazine listed the shelf strengths of different materials. Depending on the weight of your 19" and the span between the sides you might want to put a brace directly under the TV shelf. You could throw together 2 drawers and have a place to hold some DVD's.

    Just a thought

  4. #4
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    RE: MDF Cabinet Joinery

    just built a custom shelf unit for shoes, easiest way i found is biscuts and screws, and use gorilla glue to get a goos bond. without spending alot of time making dadoes or anything else, might be the fastest way to do it.

  5. #5
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    Orchard Park, New York, USA.
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    RE: MDF Cabinet Joinery

    Yeah forget dados with MDF, it's just big cardboard after all, and the less cutting the better, so biscuits work well.

    Easier still, some right angled shelf brackets and if it's a supporting shelf for a tv and you need it to float, perhaps use a single piece of REAL wood, heh...Or double or triple up the MDF...

    It's pretty strong stuff really, just can't flex much before breaking.
    So once you've got the whole length to thickness aspect sorted it;s fine...
    Once you get more than 3/4 of an inch of it together though you could happily jump up and down on it without it breaking in most applications.
    It is however ludicrously heavy stuff and before you know it, even with quite modest shelving systems, the weight makes moving it if ever you planned to impossible.

    MDF takes router cutting really well as you say, so you can goto town with that and not worry about blunting your nice expensive router bits.

    Rob.

  6. #6
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    Bradford, Vermont, MerryCanna.
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    RE: MDF Cabinet Joinery

    Here's a thought.

    Screws don't hold very well in MDF... but you can get around that. Crossbore some 1" holes near the edges and insert little 1" dowel cutoffs into the bored holes. Now screw into the sides of the dowels. Still wouldn't hurt to predrill the dowels, but you'll get a heckuva lot more strength outta' the screwed joint that way. You'll also end up with ... TaDaH ... KD joinery.

    -- Tim --

    Be well.
    Be happy.
    Live in love.

  7. #7
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    Sep 2004
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    Near Kearney, Nebraska, USA.
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    RE: MDF Cabinet Joinery

    Screws do work in MDF, but you need longer screws than what you think you should have. (Example: If Nahm is using 2-1/4" drywall screws for some 3/4" ply, you should use 2-1/2" or 3" screws in MDF.) I have had good luck with the "gold" screws. (Stainless steel for outdoor use, quite durable.)

    Wow. I'm dating myself here. I remember when Nahm used 2-1/4" drywall screws for everything.

    Tim has a good idea about the bracing. MDF shouldn't need a lot of it, though, depending on the spans.

    Whatever you do, use a dust mask. MDF dust gets everywhere and there's a lot of it.


    Matt

    Co-president of the Anti-Nanny Filter League.

  8. #8
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    RE: MDF Cabinet Joinery

    Yer gettin' well into your years, Frank - I mean Matt. :)

    That was Ryan, not me. :) :) :)

    -- Tim --

    Be well.
    Be happy.
    Live in love.

  9. #9
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    RE: MDF Cabinet Joinery

    For the dvd and video shelves, I would simply get some small plastic shelf supports (about 15mm wide with a plastic dowel out one side) drill the holes and stick them in the side. They will support the shelves adequately, they are used to support the shelves in most kitchen cabinets (certainly in the UK)Quick and easy solution.

    Just get a strip of MDF about 40mm wide, make sure one end is flat. measure up the centre the same distance as the height you want each shelf off of the base, then drill one hole at that point (the correct width for the dowel part of the support) then use it as your template for putting the shelf in level. Just hold the flat end on the base, and drill through into the cabinet. Bobs your uncle. 4 shelf support holes all at the same level.

  10. #10
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    Duluth, Minnesota.
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    RE: MDF Cabinet Joinery

    I used dados in my most recent project with MDF and they worked VERY well. Wouldn't biscuits telegraph to the surface of the MDF?

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