Current lead time for cut & edge orders is 4 - 5 working daysCOLLECTIONS: 8AM - 4PM
Current lead time for cut & edge orders is 4 - 5 working days

Cworkshop's How To

Working with MDF

An introduction to working with MDF

What is MDF?

If you’re looking for a material that can be considered ideal for furniture construction, then MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard) is the material for you. Just because it is a low-cost building material, MDF scores high marks for durability, ease of use, resistance to temperature fluctuations, and an incredibly smooth surface. When MDF is cut to size, you can use it to build cabinets (both the cabinets and the carcasses), shelves, home trims and many more.

MDF is made using natural wood fibres that are compressed and held together with a particular type of glue. The process used to make MDF gives it a smooth texture, perfect for applying paints and sticking veneers. Due to the immense pressure that MDF is put under when being made, MDF can be dense, depending on the grade of MDF. You can get such densities that can out-perform some natural wood. The higher density helps hold screws better than chipboard and makes MDF cutting far easier.

Know your material

Quick tips for using MDF

Buy full sheets

At Cworkshop, we only sell full MDF sheets to customers, which we can then cut to size to your specifications. Buying a full sheet means that you benefit from having extra pieces of MDF for your next project or having some extra when there’s been a change in design using your MDF. If your offcuts are on the larger size, you can get the MDF cut to a more manageable size for more accessible transport and storage.

Beware of dust

If it weren’t for this disadvantage, MDF would be the perfect material for furniture construction. The fine dust that MDF produces when cut or sanded can be harmful to you, in which case we suggest wearing a dust mask to protect yourself when cutting, sanding, or routing MDF.

If you’re cutting MDF indoors on-site, you will need to cover and protect all surfaces to avoid getting dust everywhere and save you time from a thorough clean up.

We would suggest using Cworkshop’s MDF cutting service to save you time cleaning up and avoiding inhaling MDF dust. We also can do any MDF drilling and routing if you require, thereby saving you more time and effort.

Handle with care

Even though MDF is quite dense and durable, the inner layers of the MDF are softer in relation to the surface, which means exposed edges and corners are vulnerable to getting damaged.

The MDF surface can also be scratched. Due to the smooth surface, deep scratches will be very prominent, affecting the look of the final MDF-made furniture.

Keep it dry

Standard MDF is not moisture resistant, which means if it gets exposed to humidity or dampness, this can cause the MDF to swell and makes it unfit to be used in any furniture. If possible, try not to use MDF in areas with more moisture than average, such ask kitchens or bathrooms.

That doesn’t mean that MDF cannot be used in those areas. Cworkshop sells moisture resistant MDF which can be used in kitchens and bathrooms. After you get your MDF cut to size, properly seal the edges, corners and surface with paint for added longevity.

Make sure to prime

Before you begin painting your MDF, you need to use a coat of primer. Priming MDF allows proper adhesion of the paint to the surface and gives it an even smoother finish. Priming and painting MDF is a task, and if you have the option to have your MDF cut to size and painted at the same time, take advantage of this service! It’ll save you hours, and you’ll be sure that your MDF is protected and furniture is finished excellently.

From furniture to decoration

What you can do with MDF

MDF is an incredibly versatile material and has many furniture applications once your MDF has been cut to the size you want. Not only is it affordable, but if you know what you’re doing, MDF is a material that is a joy to work with compared to natural wood. Here are some popular uses for using MDF.

Wardrobe carcasses

Suitable MDF has brilliant load-bearing capabilities, making it the go-to material for building wardrobe or cupboard carcasses. You can get many melamine-faced MDF options which help make the MDF look more presentable and reduces your workload because it doesn’t need to be painted.

MDF cabinets and wardrobes

Having your cabinets made with MDF is cost-effective, and the smooth surface gives your cabinet doors a lovely finish. You can get slab doors made, or if you’re looking for a bit of style, Cworkshop makes made-to-measure Shaker doors out of moisture-resistant MDF, perfect for kitchens.

You can also get veneer-faced MDF to give your cabinets an upscale look instantly.

Home trims

Another widespread use for MDF is decorative. You can get the MDF cut to strips to be used for skirting boards, wall panelling and door frames.You can get the MDF strips edged with preparation tape to protect the edges and make it easier to paint. You can also use a CNC service, like one offered by Cworkshop, to add an excellent design to your skirting board or wall panelling to create something unique to you.

Is MDF right for your project?

The bottom line

MDF is a versatile material that can be used in several furniture making applications. The durability of MDF, the ease of use and the choice of MDF makes it the perfect companion for woodworking projects. Cworkshop not only proivides some of the highest quality MDF for the furniture industry, but also cuts MDF to size, provides an edging service and delivery to your doorstep. Learn more about the different types of MDF we provide.

Read on about our MDF