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Author Topic: MDF Vs Particle Board - The Eternal Discussion.  (Read 4425 times)

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djfender

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MDF Vs Particle Board - The Eternal Discussion.
« on: December 10, 2015, 06:41:44 pm »
MDF Seems easier to work with in my opinion, I did this with a 3/4" drill bit on a ratchet, and finished it off with a one inch chisel. i.e I am a poor Arcade Enthusiast.

Particle board is cheaper though, and is easier to work with power drills, but is a pain in the buttons to do anything with manually and gets chipped real easy:D


I think I'll use particle board for mounting all non-structural things like the motherboard, speakers, LCD.

And MDF for all Structural things in my Neo Geo 25" Clone.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2015, 06:57:13 pm by djfender »
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RetroArcadePro

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Re: MDF Vs Particle Board - The Eternal Discussion.
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2015, 08:28:21 pm »
Biggest thing I dislike about mdf is the huge mess it makes

TopJimmyCooks

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Re: MDF Vs Particle Board - The Eternal Discussion.
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2015, 10:14:27 pm »
mdf:  absorbs moisture
more "structural" in a way
pervasive dust when machined.
can be sanded and finish painted or have art applied- best if you don't sand through the hard flat surface
very flat as supplied. 

Particle board - absorbs moisture
less structural, more likely to just break if stressed.
less pervasive dust
can't be sanded and painted, really
usually sheets are warped in the short direction.
harder on tools, making them dull more quickly as there are particles of metal in with the sawdust.

if you're down to auger bits and chisels, mdf is the better choice, easier to work that way.

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Re: MDF Vs Particle Board - The Eternal Discussion.
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2015, 07:10:51 am »
So if i may ask a noob question:  Where does plywood fit in?  Stronger or weaker than MDF, specifically for a CP application.  Can it be routed down to 1/4" for joysticks, etc?  Or is MDF better for that?

wp34

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Re: MDF Vs Particle Board - The Eternal Discussion.
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2015, 07:41:01 am »
I prefer MDF for a CP as It is easier to drill and route. Plywood will work fine though as most edges will be covered by artwork and/or a button bezel. 

My Felix build has plywood for the main cabinet and I used MDF where I needed a nice clean edge such as the lower monitor bezel holder.  You can mix and match.

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Re: MDF Vs Particle Board - The Eternal Discussion.
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2015, 07:52:22 am »
Ok thanks.  I know MDF is used by many for their CPs, but i've never been able to imagine how 1/4" of MDF is strong enough to support the violence subjected on joysticks.

HaRuMaN

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Re: MDF Vs Particle Board - The Eternal Discussion.
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2015, 10:10:25 am »
I've used MDO on some of my larger orders for customers.  Plywood core, but smooth MDF on the surface for painting. 

BadMouth

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Re: MDF Vs Particle Board - The Eternal Discussion.
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2015, 11:11:36 am »
I've used MDO on some of my larger orders for customers.  Plywood core, but smooth MDF on the surface for painting.

I wish I could find that stuff locally.  I'm sure it could be special ordered, but then I don't get to weed out bad sheets.

After discovering how much MDF sags in addition to swelling with moisture, I'm trying to become a convert and not use it anymore.
It's not easy to kick the habit though.  I've been building speaker enclosures from MDF since I was a teenager.

If I could just get the cut edges of plywood to come out as sharp as MDF, it wouldn't even be a question.
I think I'm at a 60 tooth blade.  Guess I could go higher.

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Re: MDF Vs Particle Board - The Eternal Discussion.
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2015, 11:28:24 am »
I tried to buy MDO for my Felix build but we couldn't find any good sheets after trying a couple of different Menards.  The stuff damages easily apparently.   :dunno



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Re: MDF Vs Particle Board - The Eternal Discussion.
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2015, 11:44:26 am »
One of my favorite materials to use (but it is pricey) is classic core maple.  Plywood core, MDF layers on either side, maple veneer on the outside.  Stains really well, very nice material to work with. 

RetroArcadePro

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Re: MDF Vs Particle Board - The Eternal Discussion.
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2015, 12:32:01 pm »
Don't forget to predrill mdf as well if you are going to use screws on it

michelevit

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Re: MDF Vs Particle Board - The Eternal Discussion.
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2015, 01:49:08 pm »
you should really be talking about plywood.

mdf and particle board are garbage materials for building a cabinet.

Furniture grade plywood is what you should be using.

vwalbridge

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Re: MDF Vs Particle Board - The Eternal Discussion.
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2015, 01:50:04 pm »
I have a hard time not using MDF.  The surface is already so smooth it makes painting a breeze.

Just cut outside and wear a mask.
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Re: MDF Vs Particle Board - The Eternal Discussion.
« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2015, 05:24:23 pm »
For me the only material is plywood. I don't know why, but I can't use anything else. It's the best of all worlds. It's strong and not too heavy! Plywood FTW!

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Re: MDF Vs Particle Board - The Eternal Discussion.
« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2015, 06:16:37 pm »
When I buy plywood, it tends to warp on me after a few days. What sucks is that no one in my area sells MDF period. Not Lowe's, Menards. one time I was going to build a subwoofer box and I even went to Carter Lumber, a place that deals with mostly  nothing but lumber and asked if they had any MDF board and both guys standing there had no idea what MDF was....yeah, seriously. I then asked if they had any 1/2" thick sheets of solid wood, not the ply stuff and they didn't of course. I can buy various sizes of Birch ply no problem but it always warps to some degree unless I get the 24"x24" sheets of 1/2 or thicker. However I would much prefer to buy MDF, just no one really sells it locally.


vwalbridge

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Re: MDF Vs Particle Board - The Eternal Discussion.
« Reply #15 on: December 11, 2015, 06:29:29 pm »
Huh? Home Depot sells MDF all day.
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Re: MDF Vs Particle Board - The Eternal Discussion.
« Reply #16 on: December 12, 2015, 03:24:47 pm »
When I buy plywood, it tends to warp on me after a few days. What sucks is that no one in my area sells MDF period. Not Lowe's, Menards. one time I was going to build a subwoofer box and I even went to Carter Lumber, a place that deals with mostly  nothing but lumber and asked if they had any MDF board and both guys standing there had no idea what MDF was....yeah, seriously. I then asked if they had any 1/2" thick sheets of solid wood, not the ply stuff and they didn't of course. I can buy various sizes of Birch ply no problem but it always warps to some degree unless I get the 24"x24" sheets of 1/2 or thicker. However I would much prefer to buy MDF, just no one really sells it locally.

Go to lowes.com and order it there for pickup at your local lowes.  I cannot imagine they don't have it in stock at the lowes or home depot but they can sure ship it there!

mgb

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Re: MDF Vs Particle Board - The Eternal Discussion.
« Reply #17 on: December 13, 2015, 07:29:35 pm »
you should really be talking about plywood.

mdf and particle board are garbage materials for building a cabinet.

Furniture grade plywood is what you should be using.

I agree that furniture grade plywood is probably about the best material for building a cabinet but I don't think particle board is complete garbage as long as you plan to cover it in vinyl or better yet, laminate it.
It's cost effective, so so on weight, and straighter than standard grade plywood.
It what the many of the original machines were made of.
My cabinet was made of particle board in the late 80s and still kicking fine after years in a roller rink.

srarcade

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Re: MDF Vs Particle Board - The Eternal Discussion.
« Reply #18 on: January 08, 2016, 12:07:37 pm »
I would probably first think about where you are going to be permanently storing this cabinet and then decide on the material that would be most suitable. Basement? Garage? (plywood) Indoors and climate controlled? (mdf/particleboard) Will you be moving it often? (plywood) Does it matter how heavy it will be? (plywood/particle) All materials can build a solid cabinet using good construction techniques, I think its up to the environment beyond that.

bdn103

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Re: MDF Vs Particle Board - The Eternal Discussion.
« Reply #19 on: January 08, 2016, 04:39:43 pm »
Melamine is another option...which has a particle board core and is already finished in black.  I have also read about black melamine with a plywood core, but I haven't been able to locate any.

Material thickness is also something to be aware of with respect to T-molding. Mdf, melamine and particle board are .75" thick, so you will want to finish with paint or vinyl to have the .75 t-molding fit.
With plywood, it is usually less then .75" thick (sometimes alot less depending on where you get it)
So it makes a good candidate for laminate (due to the laminate thickness).

Finishing determines what material I use.

From a cost perspective, when i cut a cabinet for someone, they usually want black melamine since it is already finished and is inexpensive for raw materials  (~$135 for 3 sheets of melamine wood, feet, and T-molding). When i cut a cab for myself that is a keeper, i use high ply finished plywood and prime and paint the wood before cutting. Materials runt about ~$460 for my preferred configuration.

As far as the plywood not being straight, i found that if i start with flat material, as long as I store it flat and not on edge, it will stay flat.

Thanks
Brian

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Re: MDF Vs Particle Board - The Eternal Discussion.
« Reply #20 on: January 11, 2016, 12:58:06 am »
I find that even with slightly warped (within reason) plywood, once the damn thing is assembled there's enough parts to force it straight.

jennifer

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Re: MDF Vs Particle Board - The Eternal Discussion.
« Reply #21 on: January 11, 2016, 03:39:03 am »
you should really be talking about plywood.

mdf and particle board are garbage materials for building a cabinet.

Furniture grade plywood is what you should be using.
+1 :applaud:

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Re: MDF Vs Particle Board - The Eternal Discussion.
« Reply #22 on: January 21, 2016, 07:49:20 pm »
I'm currently shopping for cabinet materials and all of the plywood around seems to have an actual thickness of .703".  Not cool for 3/4" T molding.  Only MDF has a true thickness of 3/4" but I'd prefer not to use it.   :-\

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Re: MDF Vs Particle Board - The Eternal Discussion.
« Reply #23 on: March 10, 2016, 01:40:48 pm »
You can get Plywood in true 3/4 inch. You just need look harder.

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Re: MDF Vs Particle Board - The Eternal Discussion.
« Reply #24 on: March 12, 2016, 10:57:19 pm »
I dunno if anyone has covered this but doesn't MDF release formaldahyde gas if not sealed? I started working with it and a week after started reading all sorts of cancer warnings about MDF.. most are from the UK so I dont know if the MDF in the US is different or maybe more safer but I never see anyone discussing it here.. seems sort of an important factor maybe.

I can attest to the huge mess of dust is causes when cutting though... I made the mistake of cutting some of it in my garage and pretty much everything in there is coated with MDF dust now.


jennifer

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Re: MDF Vs Particle Board - The Eternal Discussion.
« Reply #25 on: March 13, 2016, 04:41:26 am »
I dunno if anyone has covered this but doesn't MDF release formaldahyde gas if not sealed? I started working with it and a week after started reading all sorts of cancer warnings about MDF.. most are from the UK so I dont know if the MDF in the US is different or maybe more safer but I never see anyone discussing it here.. seems sort of an important factor maybe.

I can attest to the huge mess of dust is causes when cutting though... I made the mistake of cutting some of it in my garage and pretty much everything in there is coated with MDF dust now.
   Apparently the gases are reduced as the resins cure, The dust would be the issue and even then that's in very high concentrations (14+PPM) for long term exposure.
http://www.sierrapine.com/media/module/content_item/Medite_Material_Safety_Data_Sheet.pdf

jbl77

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Re: MDF Vs Particle Board - The Eternal Discussion.
« Reply #26 on: March 13, 2016, 05:51:23 pm »
Particle board is to plain granola bars what MDF is to anything my mother bakes. Either way....not something I would eat :angel:

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Re: MDF Vs Particle Board - The Eternal Discussion.
« Reply #27 on: March 13, 2016, 10:57:26 pm »
Used  :censored: MDF on my first CP and it warped, never again Furniture Grade Plywood is all I'll use, its not cheep up front but I'll only do it once.

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Re: MDF Vs Particle Board - The Eternal Discussion.
« Reply #28 on: April 08, 2016, 02:15:11 pm »
Arcade machines (Centipede, PacMan, etc) are generally made out of particleboard with a laminate covering (essentially, melamine).  And 30+ years on, most are still structurally sound (unless they were left out in the rain).   Pinball machines were mostly made of plywood and have also stood the test of time (although the corners do often need to be reglued).   Williams Control Panels (Defender, Sinistar) were made of Plywood.  Atari CP's were heavy gauge metal (I don't know what it is, but it's really stout stuff).   To be sure, there are some exceptions out ther.  In many years of collecting arcade machines and pinballs - I've never seen one made of MDF.   I'm not saying you can't do it - just that the companies that did this for profit didn't seem to think that MDF was a viable option. 

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Re: MDF Vs Particle Board - The Eternal Discussion.
« Reply #29 on: April 14, 2016, 12:47:35 pm »
All MDF except ledger boards and 2x4s for casters on bottom

Super easy to work with--very sturdy

My vote is MDF

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Re: MDF Vs Particle Board - The Eternal Discussion.
« Reply #30 on: June 28, 2016, 08:28:56 pm »
I build all my cabinets out of furniture grade plywood. Particle board and MDF are horrible building materials. (just my opinion)

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Re: MDF Vs Particle Board - The Eternal Discussion.
« Reply #31 on: June 28, 2016, 09:23:36 pm »
Arcade machines (Centipede, PacMan, etc) are generally made out of particleboard with a laminate covering (essentially, melamine).  And 30+ years on, most are still structurally sound (unless they were left out in the rain).   Pinball machines were mostly made of plywood and have also stood the test of time (although the corners do often need to be reglued).   Williams Control Panels (Defender, Sinistar) were made of Plywood.  Atari CP's were heavy gauge metal (I don't know what it is, but it's really stout stuff).   To be sure, there are some exceptions out ther.  In many years of collecting arcade machines and pinballs - I've never seen one made of MDF.   I'm not saying you can't do it - just that the companies that did this for profit didn't seem to think that MDF was a viable option.

Pac-Man and the first DK's were made from Plywood.  Some cabinets from Nintendo like the VS Dual System were made from OSB. And I think Tron was made from MDF?  It wasn't particle board, I just had to throw one away because it was swollen to almost 1 1/2" in size. Looked like sheets of cardboard glued together, definitely not particle board.

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Re: MDF Vs Particle Board - The Eternal Discussion.
« Reply #32 on: July 07, 2016, 03:14:56 pm »
MDF, like any organic (semi organic?) material needs to be fully sealed if placed into an environment where excessive moisture is present.  Plywood, MDO, particle board, etc... will all swell, warp, etc, if exposed to moisture.  The key to controlling this is not leaving any surface, including the edges, unpainted.  Use oil-based enamels where possible, rather than water based sealants/paints.  You are trying to protect it from water, so start doing so right at the first step of the process.

Using the current condition of a random 30 year old arcade cabinet, which could have spent part of it's life outside, in a barn, or a damp storage building, to ascertain the durability of building materials is fairly without much merit. 

But if you plan on burning the carcass when you dispose of the unit, use plywood.  MDF and particle board just smolders  ;D

« Last Edit: July 07, 2016, 03:41:02 pm by RandyT »

  
 

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