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Author Topic: Building material question  (Read 2766 times)

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jyoung7

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Building material question
« on: June 04, 2004, 04:44:26 pm »
I realize that MDF is used most often, but is there a cheaper, lighter way to built a cabinet and still have it structurally sound?


SirPeale

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Re:Building material question
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2004, 04:45:29 pm »
Cheaper?  Not that I'm aware of. Lighter?  Oh my, yes.  Plywood.

etumor

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Re:Building material question
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2004, 04:46:03 pm »
I use plywood specifically because it is lighter than MDF.  The bad news is that it is sometimes more expensive, and it is always harder to work with.  MDF is sort of the perfect material, weight aside.

Particle board is a lot lighter and cheaper, but it is also way less durable.

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Re:Building material question
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2004, 05:07:46 pm »
Particle board, in my expirience, is very durable, nearly indestructable, and holds coarse thread drywall screws great. The edges are'nt durable unless covered in t-molding, but we all use t-molding, yes ?

If I were to try building an arcade cabinet that would have to withstand terrible abuse it would certainly be made of 3/4" particle board.

Unfortuantely particle board *must* be laminated as the texture is so poor. You could laminate it with hardboard, the hardboard covers all the screws and makes the  cabinet look very nice, but that's more work than MDF, and I'm unsure of the weight difference.

Calling and interrogating your local lumber yards/home depots/lowes should help, I'm sure they know the weight of those sheets.

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« Last Edit: December 09, 2006, 11:54:15 am by spystyle »

etumor

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Re:Building material question
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2004, 05:19:34 pm »
I'm actually glad to hear someone speak highly of particle board.  I'm looking at restoring an original cabinet soon, and I believe it was built of particle board originally.  I have seen so many torn-up cabinets made of particle board that I worry that if I don't replace all the wood with something more durable, then it won't last much longer (since it is already 20 years old).  Your opinion of  particle board gives me renewed hope.

-Jeff

jyoung7

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Re:Building material question
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2004, 05:24:38 pm »
Thanks for the info.  So I'm getting the impression that while particle board may work from the strength side, it may not be cheaper overall (due to laminates or whatever) or necessarily lighter...hmmm....

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Re:Building material question
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2004, 05:29:27 pm »
I used Particleboard myself, but only because I already had a package of Pergo laminate flooring left over, which made for an EXTREMELY durable CP.  Disadvantage was height matching--there's a little band that the T-molding didn't quite cover (/sniff).

So I'd second that--great for structure, poor for finish.  Putting a laminate like Formica on particleboard would probably work well.  About the only advantage I can see of MDF over particleboard is that you can PAINT the MDF if you want.  If you're going to wind up laminating it anyway, I'd say pick the particleboard.

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Re:Building material question
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2004, 05:30:52 pm »
Your success with particle board will depend upon the stress put upon it. Yes it will hold coarse screws fairly well, but not on an edge and not if you have to remove and replace them (which I've had to do building my cab numerous times).  It doesn't like moisture and as was stated before it doesn't provide a good surface for paint.  

IMO, it is such an inferior product for a home built cab that I wouldn't even contemplate trying to save a few $$ by using it.  
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Re:Building material question
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2004, 01:57:18 pm »
Particle board is a great material for cab building.  It's cheap.  It's durable.  It's really quite smooth.  It glues well.  It paints pretty well.

It does have some disadvantages as well.  It's %#$@*& heavy!  It's not even close to waterproof.  It does not have great shear strength.  This last one is the worst aspect.  If you are building something, say a book shelf (I've done this), you need to design the bookshelf around support of long areas.  Otherwise you will get long sweeping bows in the wood, even if you never put any weight on the shelves.

Cab building from particle board is the same way.  If you design your cab with the idea that all long pieces of particle board are supported, you won't get the bows and bends and wobbles that particle board is famous for.  Someone mentioned the edge strength and screws.  To be sure you don't get an edge split from driving a screw into it, just drill pilot holes.  It's easy with the new reversible bit holders that have a drill and countersink bit on one side and the phillips screwdriver bit on the other.

I had some issues with MDF when building my control panel and I won't ever use it again because of them.  MDF is just compressed fibers.  I use an impact brad nailer to hold corners for gluing.  The MDF was spiltiing when I drove the nails into the edge.  Particle board can do that if you don't hit it in the center but it usually doesn't.  Now, maybe I had some poor quality MDF but this experience turned me off of MDF.  As I said, I'll never use it again.

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Re:Building material question
« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2004, 04:27:00 pm »
Is the price difference really that big of factor when choosing.  Seems you only need a couple sheets of material.  So a nice "sand ply" 3/4 inch plywood = $35 /sheet while MDF is $21 /sheet?  So you would save $28...not a budget buster but I guess every penny counts.  Personally I just prefer plywood for its weight and durability.  MDF sure does paint nice but you can skim coat with wood filler and sand smooth on the plywood.  A little extra work but worth the weight and strength advantage in my opinion.  Seems like the old cabinets made of plywood have held up better than those made of particle board.

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Re:Building material question
« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2004, 05:40:15 pm »
what would this old cabinet be made of? is it particle board with laminate over?

whats the easiest modern equivalent that you all use?

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Re:Building material question
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2004, 06:48:13 pm »
plywood, plywood, plywood.

Having gone through over 100 classic cabinets in the last 4 years I can say a few things about the assorted cabinet types.

Particle board, t-molding or not, these are always in the worst shape, they always have damage, and get water damage way too easily. Heavy

MDF cabinets. Uncommon, not quite as easily damaged as particle. Heavy as sin. Empty MDF cabs easily outweigh the equivalent populated plywood cabinet.

Plywood cabinets. Light, light, light, light. strongest cabinet type. Most difficult to damage, easiest to repair damage on. Easiest to repair damage on. Never have water damage (unless left sitting in water, or outside for years, or other idiocy that would reduce a particle cabinet to dust).

Laminated cabinets. All types of cabinets are also available laminated. This can be a plus or a minus. It does look great, and makes the cab harder to damage, but the only way to repair damaged laminate is to replace the whole piece.

Also you can simply sand down and stain plywood cabinets. You don't even particularly need the high quality wood to do this. I have even stripped down old plywood cabinets and stained them and gotten great results.
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Re:Building material question
« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2004, 10:24:28 am »
On screwing and particleboard:

If you know anyone with a biscuit joiner (plate joiner), they almost always have paid quite a bit for it and don't use it very often, meaning that they are DYING to loan it out and justify its existence.

A biscuit joiner cuts two matching curved-depth slots into pieces of material into which you then slot a football-shaped "biscuit" of wood, which bridges both pieces.  If you bathe the slot in glue, you then have three pieces of wood (particleboard, biscuit, particleboard, or what have you) which are soaking up glue like sponges.  In short: you get a very clean, very permissible (ie you have a touch more flexibility to line things up than with dowels), and VERY strong joint.

I used a friend's biscuit joiner on my CP and found it to be a very easy and very attractive way to do business, even just doing butt joints.  Highly recommended and avoids the problems of screwing into edges of particleboard.

-->VPutz