Solid Wood vs MDF (medium density fiber board) part 1 

I want to start out by saying I am completely anti-MDF.  MDF doesn't belong in furniture, kitchen cabinets, bath cabinets, architectural mouldings, or mill work, and definitely not in doors.  Let me explain.  MDF is inherently heavy, has little structure strength, falls apart if exposed to moisture, and any type of joinery doesn't come close to working.  Specialty fasteners and screws are your only option and even with them, setting a box (cabinet) down too hard, or tying your ropes too tight on your delivery truck, and the fasteners crumble through the wood.  To make my point, I have three experiments you can try.  First test, take a 3/4" x 24" x 48" MDF panel, support both ends 4" off the ground, and step on it.  It crumbles.  Now do the same with a piece of solid white oak, 3/4" x 6" x 48", and jump on it.  Nothing happens to the wood, it is solid as a rock. Second test, take a new piece of MDF and the same piece of white oak.  (the white oak didn't break or crumble so you can use the same piece)  Use some blue tape to make a reservoir or pool on each piece.   Take 2" blue tape, stick about 1/2" of that piece to the wood, and stand the rest of it upright.  Do this on all four sides until you have a little box, about 6" square.  Pour in about 1/2 cup of water into the little pool, and leave it overnight.  What happens?  The MDF swells and crumbles, while nothing happens to the hardwood, except that it gets wet!  The piece shown here would not have survived the photo shoot had it been made from MDF. Third test, take two pieces of MDF and two pieces of solid white oak, 3/4" x 6" x 24".  Screw the ends together , at the 6" width, forming a 90 degree corner using using three 2" dry wall grabber screws (use tapered drill/counter sink to pre-drill holes for screws).  Now try to break the pieces apart.  No effort is needed to break apart the MDF pieces.  The solid white oak is all but impossible to break.  My main point is, if you want to build fine furniture and cabinetry and doors, pieces that will last, do not use MDF.  Solid wood is the only way to go in a quality woodshop.  I will cover more details on this in my next post.

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Welcome to my New Blog!

Over the years many people, both professional and non-professional, have asked my advise on a variety of subjects.  I feel I have a lot of experience and advice than many of you might be interested in, and might even benefit from, so I decided to start this blog.  I have been working in fine woodworking for over 40 years, utilizing my skills in woodworking, as well as glass arts, metal forging, woodcarving, and bronze sculpture.  You can see many of them in the gallery on my web site at   I will be writing about various topics, including furniture and door construction, woodcarving, finishes and finishing techniques, working in cold and hot glass and different metals, along with advice such as where to find the best woodcarving tools and how to tell if a piece of furniture is well made.   I will try to update this blog once a month, more often if I have the time.  I run a full-time woodworking shop, so my free time is limited.   I hope you enjoy reading my posts, because I am looking forward to writing them for you!  And I would love to hear from you about any topics you may find interesting for me to write about.     

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