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Wood Choice

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I'm trying to decide what wood to use for my cabinet.  It seems a lot of people use MDF.  I guess this is fairly easy to work with, but is it strong enough, and does it have problems with warping?

Are there any other good choices?  I don't want to use chip board as I would imagine this to be a pig to work with.

Any advise would be great, thanks.

I'm planning on using 3/4 finished plywood for the side-walls and parts of the rotary monitor mount, 5/8 finished plywood for most of the the front and rear panels and MDF for the control panel sections.  

I considered using lighter materials but then considered "Arcade  cabinets were built heavy for a reason..." and that was so they wouldn't be shoved around the floor by angry kids or furious game sessions.

I also considered using MDF, but having owned enough cheap furniture made from the stuff to watch how they deteriorate, I quickly decided against it.  This machine is going in my basement, and sometimes it can get a little humid down there.

I think the main reason people uses MDF for their cabinets is because its not very expensive... Also.. if you paint it to a solid color, it'll show just that flat color and no wood patterns... (more like real arcade...)

I think plywood is stronger than MDF... but if you're getting the good plywood... places like Home Depot will sell 3/4 inch plywood (brich - the nice ones..) a 4 x 8 will cost you like $50.... MDF will probably cost 1/2 of that....

but if you want to make it with wood pattern, stain it and make it like furniture, plywood will look nicer...

you can check from the example pages... there are tons of beautiful cabs.... pick one which is closer to your "ideal" cab and start from there...  that should make it easier...  also check the old msgs on this board... a lot of things are already discussed... how to paint... how to cut... what to use... etc.

I'll agree with everything they said. :)  One thing about the plywood, there are various grades of plywood.  consturctions grade would look horrible but I used a mid-range in leu of furniture grade.  I got it on sale for 20$ a sheet and it turned out great!  It has a very subtle wood grain showing which actually looks quite nice.  

Anther thing.... frobozz is right about the control panels.... Try to lighten the load on them anyway possible.  I have a rather large panel made out of 3/4 plywood on all sides and I just about kill myself when I take it off.  I woudl suggest making the sides out of plywood and the top (and bottom if you need one)  out of mdf.  Of course if you use mdf for the top you going to HAVE to put a protective coating or some plexi over top of it as a spilled drink could cause major warping.  

But if you can afford it say away from mdf as much as possible.  MDF is a fancy word for sturdier pressed wood.  You know that stupid tv stand that bows down in the middle you bought at Walmart?  That thing is made out of low grade mdf.  

MDF is VERY strong.  It is fairly dense, that's why.
If you use MDF you will want to prime it with one or two coats of primer.  MDF soaks up moisture.  That way you soak it with a bunch of paint and it will resist humidity.

MDF is cheap.  like $12 for a 4'x8' sheet.
I used 2.5 sheets for my cabinet.
Luckily I had a half a sheet of MDF around from when I made my subwoofer.  Most subwoofers are made with MDF.  It is strong and dense so it is perfect for speaker boxes.  If you run a 300w 12" sub you know it can put alot of stress on the box.  Even my 80w 10" sub puts force on the joints.

If you haven't seen my cabinet through y_con12.jpg through y_cab17.jpg


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