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Author Topic: Interior structural wood pieces - I want them to be perfectly flat  (Read 467 times)

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thorr

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I am about to build my first arcade cabinet out of MDF.   Is there wood that is perfectly flat that I can put along the interior sides and screw into, such as at the bottom where the bottom piece meets the side pieces?  I don't want to just screw the side MDF into the bottom MDF because I am assuming it won't be straight or stable.  I want to screw both pieces into wood like a 2x2, but I want it to be flat on all sides, unlike most wood that is usually warped somewhat.  I hope that makes sense.  I saw that there are powertools that grind wood down to make it flat, but I don't want to buy that.  I am hoping there is wood out there or something similar that I can just purchase.  I am open to other ideas as well.  I don't really know what I am doing.  Can I use my router/router table to accomplish this?  Thanks.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2021, 06:41:51 pm by thorr »

jennifer

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Re: Interior structural wood pieces - I want them to be perfectly flat
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2021, 06:59:18 pm »
 :)
« Last Edit: April 15, 2021, 09:36:10 am by jennifer »

javeryh

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Re: Interior structural wood pieces - I want them to be perfectly flat
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2021, 07:09:02 pm »
Well normally that is a 1x1... But you shouldn't have any issues unless the wood you are using is incredibly nasty, The slight bow you may find, put it up in the center, or down on the end and it will pull flat when you screw or staple it. (Start in the center and work out)...If you are looking to build a flawless dream machine out of the gate however you are going to need some big machines in your shop, Just saying.
This is all the advice you need.  Just go to Home Depot and buy some wood strips that they usually sell in 8-12í lengths and buy the straightest pieces you can find.  When you chop it up an individual section will be flat enough and when you screw or glue it to your MDF it will be really flat and you wonít see any gaps when you assemble.  You donít need a jointer or planer.

jennifer

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Re: Interior structural wood pieces - I want them to be perfectly flat
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2021, 07:15:15 pm »
 ;)
« Last Edit: April 15, 2021, 09:36:24 am by jennifer »

Zebidee

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Re: Interior structural wood pieces - I want them to be perfectly flat
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2021, 07:36:01 pm »
Wood is so popular as a building material because it is both strong yet flexible, and as a bonus is easy to work with.

Minor bends and warps will no matter in the end.

1x1 inch is enough for the "blocking pieces" that you need. Strong enough and big enough to take screws from two directions.

Power tools? All you really need is power (hand) saw, jigsaw, drill. Table saw optional if you can't do a straight cut otherwise (but table saws are statistically the most dangerous of all power tools, seconded by the hand power saw mentioned earlier). Basic router if you want T-molding (good idea to do this) and a few other fancy things. You won't need a jointer or planer if you are just buying wood pieces from hardware store. Get at least one pair of G-clamps (I have small, medium and big) and a larger pair of F-clamps, these guys are so useful you won't know how you managed without them.
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thorr

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Re: Interior structural wood pieces - I want them to be perfectly flat
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2021, 07:42:49 pm »
Thanks!  That is very helpful.  I wish I knew about the maple ply before.  I thought MDF was the way to go and I already bought it and started cutting the first piece.  It is super heavy and hard to cut straight lines because it is so dense.  I was using a $7 fine tooth saw blade and I think it got dull after a few cuts.  If after working on my build further I end up regretting my decision of going with MDF, I may end up cutting my losses and starting over with maple ply.  It is probably easier to cut, screw into, etc also.  I am thinking about trying to use my router instead of the circular saw to cut my straight lines.  I got some plastic quick clamps and they are great.  Maybe Home Depot will let me return the MDF even though I bought it more than 30 days ago.  Edit: just checked and it should not be a problem, but I gotta find my receipt.  Maybe they can just look up the order.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2021, 07:46:44 pm by thorr »

jennifer

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Re: Interior structural wood pieces - I want them to be perfectly flat
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2021, 08:42:43 pm »
 :)
« Last Edit: April 15, 2021, 09:36:43 am by jennifer »

bobbyb13

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Re: Interior structural wood pieces - I want them to be perfectly flat
« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2021, 08:51:59 pm »
I wouldnt bring it back, you can use it as a sacrificial table top on saw horses or buckets or something and have a nice surface to work on, or you can make your templates out of it...3/4" sanded ply is so much easier to work with however, most notably the weight, and the dust, Your blades and bits will last longer too...

If you can afford to follow Jenn's suggestion it is a good one.

And cabinet quality 3/4" ply is the way to go for sure.
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Zebidee

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Re: Interior structural wood pieces - I want them to be perfectly flat
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2021, 09:09:19 pm »
Quality plywood (especially "marine" grade") is also much more resistant to water than MDF. MDF will soak up water just like a sponge, any flooding or even just serious spills and say bye bye.
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jennifer

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Re: Interior structural wood pieces - I want them to be perfectly flat
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2021, 01:55:50 am »
 :)
« Last Edit: April 15, 2021, 09:37:04 am by jennifer »

Gilrock

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Re: Interior structural wood pieces - I want them to be perfectly flat
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2021, 09:26:00 am »
I run the plywood through a table saw and cut a bunch of 3/4" strips so they end up as 3/4" by 3/4" squares.  And one of the best things I discovered is the joy of using a pneumatic brad nailer to assemble a cabinet.  You use the brad nailer to attach the strips to the inside of the side panels.  Then when you place your plywood up against those strips you come in on the inside and brad nail straight into that board.  You end up with no marks on the outside.  I usually use wood glue and the brad nails just hold it in place till the glue sets.  Its easy to space the strips just use another strip or piece of plywood to space them in from the edge and it gives you a perfectly square corner edge when the two pieces of wood are secured to the strip.  Or if you want it inset just add something that thick for the extra spacer when you are attaching the strip.

thorr

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Re: Interior structural wood pieces - I want them to be perfectly flat
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2021, 01:51:07 pm »
Thanks again everyone.  I bought four sheets of MDF because I had to rent a Home Depot van to get it home and didn't want to have to rent it again for one more sheet if I needed it.  I cut up one of the four, and I have no need for 3 extra pieces of MDF.  I don't have any room to store it. I will probably use the one I cut up for control panels (I am planning to have interchangeable control panels using hand knobs in the corners to tighten them down).  Now that I have my design more figured out, I may only need two or three sheets of plywood.  I will be sure to figure this out before returning the MDF.  I don't have a brad nailer and don't have a way to air power one, so I will just stick with screws and glue.

Are drywall screws good for maple plywood?  What circular saw blade do you recommend?  I was suggested to get a fine tooth one so it wouldn't screw up the finish, but the one I got dulled so fast, it ended up curving my cut.  I haven't used my router yet, but I have a cutting bit for it.  Wouldn't this work just as well as a circular saw if I ran it along a guide?

Thanks again!

Gilrock

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Re: Interior structural wood pieces - I want them to be perfectly flat
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2021, 01:55:12 pm »
I bought this kit and at the time I wasn't even really thinking I needed the attachments.  Once you use this you won't go back.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Porter-Cable-6-Gal-150-PSI-Portable-Electric-Air-Compressor-with-16-Gauge-18-Gauge-and-23-Gauge-Nailer-Combo-Kit-3-Tool-PCFP3KIT/312030570

thorr

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Re: Interior structural wood pieces - I want them to be perfectly flat
« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2021, 04:57:08 pm »
Thanks.  Since I don't plan I building more than one cabinet, I will save the money and space in my very full garage and just use screws and glue.  I have a nice powered screwdriver, so hopefully that will get the job done almost as easy. 

After doing some research, I won't use my router to do my cuts.  I will get a Freud D0760X blade for my circular saw.  I also have a jigsaw for the rounded parts.  Hopefully drywall screws will work.

jennifer

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Re: Interior structural wood pieces - I want them to be perfectly flat
« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2021, 07:16:48 pm »
 ;)
« Last Edit: April 15, 2021, 09:37:28 am by jennifer »

thorr

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Re: Interior structural wood pieces - I want them to be perfectly flat
« Reply #15 on: April 08, 2021, 07:44:59 pm »
Thanks for the suggestion.  I don't fully understand what you mean by template.  Are you saying that I should cut out an extra arcade side out of cheap plywood (1/4" maybe) that I will just throw away and use it to guide my router bit to cut the real sides?  I could screw that into but not all the way through the good wood so it wouldn't move and there would not be holes on the outside of the final cabinet.

Ond

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Re: Interior structural wood pieces - I want them to be perfectly flat
« Reply #16 on: April 08, 2021, 07:59:02 pm »
Thanks for the suggestion.  I don't fully understand what you mean by template.  Are you saying that I should cut out an extra arcade side out of cheap plywood (1/4" maybe) that I will just throw away and use it to guide my router bit to cut the real sides?  I could screw that into but not all the way through the good wood so it wouldn't move and there would not be holes on the outside of the final cabinet.

Yep you got it.  Just one thing though I'd recommend not using plywood for the template.  Thin MDF sheet is much better for that purpose.  Go see my comments on MDF, templates etc in the 'Hole Saw - experience - help please' & 'Materials other than MDF' threads just below this one.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2021, 08:01:10 pm by Ond »

javeryh

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Re: Interior structural wood pieces - I want them to be perfectly flat
« Reply #17 on: April 08, 2021, 08:02:44 pm »
Thanks for the suggestion.  I don't fully understand what you mean by template.  Are you saying that I should cut out an extra arcade side out of cheap plywood (1/4" maybe) that I will just throw away and use it to guide my router bit to cut the real sides?  I could screw that into but not all the way through the good wood so it wouldn't move and there would not be holes on the outside of the final cabinet.
Yes but use double sided tape and not screws.  No holes at all.  This will allow you to make two exact copies that will line up perfectly.

thorr

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Re: Interior structural wood pieces - I want them to be perfectly flat
« Reply #18 on: April 08, 2021, 08:18:06 pm »
Awesome.  Thanks everyone for the suggestions.  I am feeling a lot better about proceeding with this and having it come out nice.  Do you have a suggestion for the double sided tape?  It looks like most of the time it is "permanent", and I am worried I wouldn't be able to pull it apart again or get the tape off.

javeryh

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Re: Interior structural wood pieces - I want them to be perfectly flat
« Reply #19 on: April 08, 2021, 08:29:03 pm »
I use 3M and it is sticky but not that sticky.  I usually run a strip of it along the edge of the pattern and when Iím done itís somewhat hard to separate but I can usually get a metal ruler in there and pry the pieces apart.

Make sure you trace the template with a pencil and cut it out with your jigsaw stating about 1/16Ē-1/8Ē away from the line.  Then add the tape and the pattern and use your router to remove the last bit.  You donít want to just use the router to cut the panel - too much material to chew through.

javeryh

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Interior structural wood pieces - I want them to be perfectly flat
« Reply #20 on: April 08, 2021, 08:31:08 pm »

thorr

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Re: Interior structural wood pieces - I want them to be perfectly flat
« Reply #21 on: April 08, 2021, 08:42:27 pm »
Thanks again!  That is very helpful.   When making the curves on the template, is it better to use my router with a cutting bit instead of a jigsaw so the edges are smooth?  I am not sure how controllable the router is when I slowly push it along a drawn line without a fence next to it.

javeryh

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Re: Interior structural wood pieces - I want them to be perfectly flat
« Reply #22 on: April 08, 2021, 08:55:57 pm »
This is why you should use 1/4Ē MDF for the pattern.  It can be sanded fairly easy.  Use your jigsaw to cut as close to the curved line as possible and then sand to the line using a block of wood wrapped in sandpaper or a sanding block if you have one.  You can make any shape you want this way.  I would not use the router to cut the template freehand - that is a recipe for disaster.  I use it to cut straight lines with a straight edge and pattern bit but not for curves (unless the arc is big enough for my circle jig but thatís probably overkill).

thorr

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Re: Interior structural wood pieces - I want them to be perfectly flat
« Reply #23 on: April 08, 2021, 08:59:10 pm »
Ok.  Thanks again! :-)