Return to the Woodworking Forum | Post a Follow-Up

What type of fastner for MDF?

Posted by always-beezee (My Page) on
Sat, May 30, 09 at 19:43

I am building a storage cabinet out of 3/4 and 1/2 MDF.
It will be 7'high x 6' wide x 24" deep and it will be painted. The ends and middle will be 3/4", the front and back will be 1/2", the shelves will be 3/4" and the doors will be 1/2". I have most of the stuff cut out already, then someone asked me how I was going to put it together. I said screws. Then the person said that screws might not work that well.

So my question is what type of fastner to use. Nail, screws, dowel, biscuits, glue, gum, or duck tape. I have never worked with MDF.


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: What type of fastner for MDF?

Biscuits would be a good choice for most of it, though you might try other fasteners for attaching the back. Be aware that this cabinet will be very dependent on its back for rigidity and strength, so attach it well. Also, it's very easy to split MDF when screwing into the edges, so pilot them if you ever do this.

Have you considered what sort of hinges you'll use for your 1/2" doors? Most are designed for 3/4" material.

RE: W hat type of fastner for MDF?

I really haven't thought too much about the hinges. I was thinking of bolting them instead of screws. The two bottom doors will be 30" x 54" and the top two will be 28" x 30". I do know they will have to be substantial because of the weight of the doors.


RE: What type of fastner for MDF?

Screws can work into the flats of MDF, but fail into edges. Dowels + glue are the standard for 90 degree joints. If things are to be hidden, staples and glue can be used. Biscuits are less good in MDF than in ply, because the pockets in edges can still split, and if right at the edge of a flat, they can shear off. I hate the stuff. There, I said it.

RE: What type of fastner for MDF?

What about using 2 x 2 for the interior frame work and using that to screw into.

RE: What type of fastner for MDF?

You shouldn't need an "interior frame work" at all. A faceframe would be a good idea, both to prevent wracking (which is the biggest danger to the carcass joints) and also to support the shelves so that they don't sag.

I agree w/Casey that screws into the edges are a bad idea where significant strength is required. Small screws could be used to attach an applied back, where stresses are smaller and more forgiving, but don't use them between the shelves/top/bottom and sides. As to the benefits of dowels over biscuits... meh. The most important thing is to design the cabinet so that it doesn't rely on super-strong joints, because such joints are pretty much impossible with MDF.

Good luck!

RE: What type of fastner for MDF?

Even plywood is stronger than MDF, especially when shelf loads are involved.

Do a search for 'sagulator' to find out how your shelves will behave.

RE: What t ype of fastner for MDF?

Thanks for all of your suggestions. I think I'm going to go with the 2 x 2 interior frame route. I'm more comfortable doing it that way. After all, it's just a storage cabinet not one of those fancy ones with lacy curtains on it.

Thanks, Bernie

RE: What type of fastner for MDF?

Confirmat screws and glue work well with MDF, with pilot holes.

If I was building, I'd dado the sides to accept the shelf ends. Glue and screw.

Then at a minimum a poplar edging on the fronts of the shelves, or to purdy it up, a poplar face frame on the entire cabinet.

Hinge screws often have fine threads, they can easily work loose when driven into the "end grain" of an MDF panel. Consider face mounted hinges instead of edge mounted.

 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the Woodworking Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here