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Author Topic: Materials other than MDF  (Read 1001 times)

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SpatzST

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Materials other than MDF
« on: July 14, 2020, 05:08:42 pm »
The only arcade I've built was using 3/4" MDF because it was relatively cheap and easy to work with.  I am building a bartop arcade now and I don't want to use 3/4" MDF because it is heavy.  What is a suitable alternative? Could I use another wood that is 1/2"? Wouldn't even mind 3/4", but what kind of wood is suitable?

Mike A

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Re: Materials other than MDF
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2020, 06:26:34 pm »
3/4 inch plywood.

It is much lighter.
It holds screws way better.
It is more durable.
It doesn't absorb water like a sponge and bloat out.
It is better in every conceivable way except it takes a couple more minutes to sand before priming and painting.

I don't know why anyone would ever use MDF to build anything.

SpatzST

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Re: Materials other than MDF
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2020, 07:27:03 pm »
3/4 inch plywood.

It is much lighter.
It holds screws way better.
It is more durable.
It doesn't absorb water like a sponge and bloat out.
It is better in every conceivable way except it takes a couple more minutes to sand before priming and painting.

I don't know why anyone would ever use MDF to build anything.

Sounds good to me.

thanks

mahuti

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Re: Materials other than MDF
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2020, 12:33:03 pm »
I like half inch oak. lighter and I prefer the way it works and sands, and finishing the edges is easier. The drawback is that I need to predrill just about everything to keep it from cracking, especially at the edges. Poplar is softer and dings easier but it is less brittle... if you intend to paint it's a good choice and easy to find.

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MartyKong

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Re: Materials other than MDF
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2020, 01:53:08 pm »
The big box stores usually carry oak and birch furniture grade  plywood. I'd use the birch ply if a smooth finish or art install is a priority. Still compared to MDF it's going to be about $50 + a sheet. For a bartop not bad and I also second Mike A's comparison.

Mike A

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Re: Materials other than MDF
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2020, 02:49:31 pm »
It is funny. Whenever this question comes up everybody agrees plywood is better yet everyone keeps using MDF. Can you guys please knock it the ---fudgesicle--- off already with the MDF.

mahuti

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Re: Materials other than MDF
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2020, 06:08:21 pm »
I still use MDF and like it.  ;D

(not for everything though)
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Mike A

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Re: Materials other than MDF
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2020, 06:10:52 pm »
 :'(

jennifer

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Re: Materials other than MDF
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2020, 07:03:59 pm »
I haven't bought a piece of MDF in like 20 years now, cabinet grade maple ply for this girl...If you got some money however, 1/2" Coosa board and 6 layers of 1708 glass make a perfect 3/4" Lamination...Just saying🙄.

Alejo I

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Re: Materials other than MDF
« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2020, 06:11:21 am »
I feel like the love for ply may be a bit exacerbated in here because it's a very common building material in North America (much less in Yurop) and there were American cabinets made of ply, so there's even some nostalgia factor to it. Meanwhile, MDF and chipboard are far more common in Europe and nobody has any issues with it for home usage. Plus, it has some advantages when laminating and warping is a non issue. It's just what each of us has grown used to use.

The complains about water damage and weight are kind of moot since an arcade cabinet is not something you are going to take outside or frequently move around. And if you ever need to push one down/up the stairs, you are going to need help anyway. I feel like the ply over MDF debate may hold some weight if we are talking about cabinets that are going to see some heavy use (barcades and the like), which would be far more stressful for MDF and chipboard. But for home use? They are all fine.

For what is worth, I think ply is far better in terms of retaining structural strenght, but it's not like quality MDF is bad at all, specially if you use threaded inserts for pieces that may need some reassembly. It's horrible for router work, tho.

Regarding alternatives, hardboard (HDF) could be interesting since it's extremely hard and you can even find dyed versions in a variety of colors from brands like Valchromat. It's commonly used in furniture that needs to be pretty strong but can't show any woodgrain after painting.

« Last Edit: August 03, 2020, 06:13:50 am by Alejo I »

Mike A

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Re: Materials other than MDF
« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2020, 06:20:16 am »
no.

Alejo I

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Re: Materials other than MDF
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2020, 09:42:31 am »

jennifer

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Re: Materials other than MDF
« Reply #12 on: August 03, 2020, 10:20:17 am »
A machine for home use kind of defeats the purpose, Flimsey, no coin mech, and no soul. As a kid I made a Tootsie roll vendor out of cardboard boxes, but in hindsight that wasn't really a home use machine...Just Jenn in a box pushing candy through a hole...If you build quality it potentially will far outlive the builder living its own life out in the real world, Hardboard, probibally ain't going to cut it.

bperkins01

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Re: Materials other than MDF
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2020, 10:06:07 am »
MDF is crap..  make it out of lasagna noodles..  same result..

If you don't want to use plywood (birch would be the best) - use particle board.  Its inexpensive and is still better than MDF.
But seriously - you going to spend plenty of money on a machine.. and encase it on something slightly better that corrugated cardboard?

pro tip - listen to people who have built stuff before..  not people who have never built a think and own zero tools..
 
My Arcade Cabinet Build and other projects here:
Centipede, Joust, Joust Cocktail, Asteroids, Galaga, Ms. Pacman Cabaret, Defender, Space Invaders Cocktail
https://bperkins.wordpress.com/

Alejo I

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Re: Materials other than MDF
« Reply #14 on: August 09, 2020, 01:53:34 pm »
MDF is crap..  make it out of lasagna noodles..  same result..

If you don't want to use plywood (birch would be the best) - use particle board.  Its inexpensive and is still better than MDF.
But seriously - you going to spend plenty of money on a machine.. and encase it on something slightly better that corrugated cardboard?

pro tip - listen to people who have built stuff before..  not people who have never built a think and own zero tools..
I'm lazy as hell when it comes to arcade projects and not exactly a carpenter, but in the last year and half I've designed and built two entire kitchens from MDF and remodelled several ones before that while keeping most of the old structures. I think that counts. The cabinets and drawers get abused by tenants and kids each day. They are fine. And an arcade cabinet is hardly going to have it worse than a kitchen one on a rent apartment unless your friends are real hooligans.

It's all about the quality of the MDF and the surface treatment. I get that people have preferences (don't we all?) but I feel like certain assumptions are way off base when you have firms like Natuzzi using MDF for credenzas that cost more than my first car did.

In any case, opinions and bumholes   :dunno

Mike A

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Re: Materials other than MDF
« Reply #15 on: August 09, 2020, 06:12:13 pm »
No.

bperkins01

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Re: Materials other than MDF
« Reply #16 on: August 09, 2020, 11:00:45 pm »
Kitchens for tenants...  Sure..  low cost kitchens.. 
MDF is still crap.  I've done laminate counter tops..  particle board is better.

If you're going to spend a thousand dollars on a cabinet (buttons, controllers, power supply, PC, monitor, hardware, etc...)
Get the plywood.  Seriously - $63 more for 2 sheets.
And if is because you want to save money - Particle board costs less and its a stronger material.

MDF $24.44

3/4" Particle Board $18.98

3/4" Birch Plywood $55.98

For a non-professional - I'm and advanced/expert woodworker.  I've built a little of everything.. When I first started I used MDF..  its crap.  On my Mame cabinet I did use some..  Its my monitor bezel.  Perfect material for that.  100% non-structural.



My Arcade Cabinet Build and other projects here:
Centipede, Joust, Joust Cocktail, Asteroids, Galaga, Ms. Pacman Cabaret, Defender, Space Invaders Cocktail
https://bperkins.wordpress.com/

Alejo I

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Re: Materials other than MDF
« Reply #17 on: Yesterday at 02:44:32 am »
Kitchens for tenants...  Sure..  low cost kitchens.. 
Friggin Bulthaup kitchens ($/60,000 to $/100,000 for the cabinetry alone, easily) use MDF.

At this point I don't know if there's something about different European and American regulations concerning the glues used in MDF that is making this conversation so difficult, because I swear I feel like we are talking about completely different materials.

Mike A

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Re: Materials other than MDF
« Reply #18 on: Yesterday at 04:25:16 am »
Wow. That company churns out soulless horrible kitchens. They have no personality. It looks like they were designed for robots.

bperkins01

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Re: Materials other than MDF
« Reply #19 on: Yesterday at 06:48:06 am »
Maybe you guys in Europe get better MDF.
Our Home Depot MDF that people use to build arcade machines here is crap.
Good for one screw and then hole is useless.
It's very heavy vs. alternatives.
Swells with humidity, not just moisture.

If I paid $100K for kitchen cabinets and they had MDF - then I'm doing a bad job shopping. And they would not be for tenants.
You mentioned your not an expert carpenter - more than one expert woodworker on this thread recommended using something of better quality than MDF.

I can agree to disagree however. 
Sorry OP for the hijack.. 
My Arcade Cabinet Build and other projects here:
Centipede, Joust, Joust Cocktail, Asteroids, Galaga, Ms. Pacman Cabaret, Defender, Space Invaders Cocktail
https://bperkins.wordpress.com/

Gilrock

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Re: Materials other than MDF
« Reply #20 on: Yesterday at 10:08:22 am »
I used MDF for my Mame control panel.  Luckily that taught me the lesson so I've used plywood for everything I've built since.  With the MDF I had problems with the threaded nuts tearing up the MDF and then your hole is screwed up.  And when you buy plywood go for the Baltic birch plywood to get a nice painting surface.

mahuti

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Re: Materials other than MDF
« Reply #21 on: Yesterday at 10:56:20 am »
Quote
Our Home Depot MDF that people use to build arcade machines here is crap.

I can second that specific bit. I have used MDF from Home Depot exactly ONE time. It's fuzzy, awful, the worst. It's so bad, when I used a router on it, I couldn't tell if I was following a curve because the edge just puffed up and feathered as I cut. If I tried to drill a hole through it, the backside just puffed out so bad in a mound, and basically fell apart when I tried to clean the edges up. It's so loosely packed that it takes paint poorly too. It was an awful material.

On the flipside, when I buy MDF at Lowes it has none of those problems. It still has the other shortcomings of MDF, but it's night and day compared to the stuff at Home Depot specifically.

I use MDF for a variety of things, but I don't consider it a structural material. I love it for it's ability to be shaped quickly and easily. For anything structural, I use plywood, often birch.
Formerly known for the (apparently now defunct) arcadeartlibrary

jennifer

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Re: Materials other than MDF
« Reply #22 on: Yesterday at 01:05:30 pm »
I prefer maple over birch, as it is less chippy, however, since Jenn is getting away from restorations and more into prototypes, Coosa board (Fiberglass composite panel) Bluewater 26 more specifically will most likely be my choice of material going forward, Mosty because I have built and restored many machines and now more into specific caraistics of the material over cost (Jenn is not rich, Just saying)...Now most of you are waste of money bla, bla, but consider the fact I also make a lot of jigs, and virtually nothing goes to the wayside... As for MDF, it does have one thing going for it, Saints book.
« Last Edit: Yesterday at 01:09:41 pm by jennifer »

Mike A

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Re: Materials other than MDF
« Reply #23 on: Yesterday at 01:12:32 pm »
Prototypes? Got any pics?

jennifer

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Re: Materials other than MDF
« Reply #24 on: Yesterday at 01:31:41 pm »
Not a construction yet...Still modifying artwork and sizing in P/S...Thats that Red Baron, In a Star Wars cab clone,With a BIG vector project I was referring to.😉

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Re: Materials other than MDF
« Reply #25 on: Yesterday at 01:40:53 pm »
Althogh secretly...On that game there are some considerations, One being thats going from  19"B/W to Color 27"...and the game simulates a cracked monitor when you get shot...Well, I am not a code hacker (yet) but thinking to add flashing lights, and a shaker motor.

jennifer

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Re: Materials other than MDF
« Reply #26 on: Yesterday at 01:47:42 pm »
On a 2 channel sound board...

Mike A

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Re: Materials other than MDF
« Reply #27 on: Yesterday at 01:53:36 pm »
I look forward to seeing pics of that. It sounds like an interesting project.

jennifer

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Re: Materials other than MDF
« Reply #28 on: Yesterday at 02:03:23 pm »
The physical construction of a Star wars clone is probibally going the worst of the whole project, That is an intense cab to begin with, but to modify it into a biplane, Well, that in itself requires a sanity check, (trying to keep the size small enough to fit a common 30" doorway) However, the plans are printed finally, few more tweaks for the steel wing struts...And parts are coming in slowly.

Gilrock

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Re: Materials other than MDF
« Reply #29 on: Yesterday at 04:32:38 pm »
Pretty much anything but the cheap plywood.  I used Red Oak for my Robotron.

Alejo I

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Re: Materials other than MDF
« Reply #30 on: Today at 02:57:48 am »
In defense of plywood, it's much easier to fix a serious screw-up with putty. That's something it has over any other material.

As far as alternatives go, I'd like to cast a vote for Valchromat. It's 30% stronger than normal MDF, comes in a variety of solid colors dyed through the entire material and can be finished like actual wood. It's not cheap and I believe it's harder to find in the US (although Amazon carries it from time to time), but being MDF-like, it's extremely good if you want to get original with curved router bits/CNC as it's splinter-free and allows for some pretty extreme shaping.





Again, it's a pretty specialised material, so it may not be the best alternative for a normal build. Unless you are Arroyo.

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Re: Materials other than MDF
« Reply #31 on: Today at 10:59:35 am »
In the states for store displays, powder coated Mdf has become quite popular in recent years, it is cheap, fast and pretty, I could see that valchromat being a contender in that realm as is colored all the way through, That would be nice for deep scratches and gouges, As it would be less noticeable, It does have the look of shattering when you screw it like MDF however, I would be curious of its weight comparability...Coosa board is 30% lighter than plywood, but cost over weight is hardly justified for a typical build at around 350.00 a sheet (500.00 with shipping)...and bringing it up to 3/4" for the T moldings with glass/resin, and depending on finish...easily around1500.00 a panel.
« Last Edit: Today at 11:32:45 am by jennifer »