MDF Conference Table Details

Advice on building a large table with an MDF top. September 3, 2011

I've been asked to build a 5' x 10' rectangular conference table. It will be a very simple design. The customer wants two rectangular box legs and a smooth top with a 3" apron. The whole table will receive a high gloss white lacquer finish. My question is what others would suggest for material and apron fastening. My thoughts were doubled up 3/4" MDF with maple apron. My concerns are where the apron fastens to the top. Obviously, with a solid high gloss finish any visible seams will look terrible. Is MDF stable enough to glue and screw the apron to and not self destruct?

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor C:
I just did a door and removable wall panels in MDF and did it the same way youíre thinking of (glue and brads). I achieved a seamless look by filling the cracks with glue putty. Although mating a solid wood and MDF (back to back) is a bad idea as the wood will move with changes in humidity and the MDF will move much less. It seems to me that in the case of a conference table the legs to aprons would be the weak link in the chain. The top could be MDF with structural support underneath so as to eliminate sag.

From the original questioner:
The legs would attach to the underside of the top only, and not to the apron. I have no reservations about being able to make the seams disappear, I just am concerned if it will stay that way.

From contributor C:
Whatís your method of attachment for the legs to the top? Iíve done long bolts through the top to the legs and filled the holes over. This is when I first started out about ten years ago and I found that to be most unsatisfactory in the long run - this being done with plywood mind you.

From the original questioner:
In this instance, the legs are large rectangular "boxes" for lack of better words. My intent was to conceal steel angle brackets in the legs and attach to the underside of the top.

From contributor P:
Use lock miters to join the top to the edges. The edges could be maple or MDF. Miter them at the corners and back up the joints with corner blocks. You will need some steel underneath to keep the top stiff. You didn't say whether you are building the top in a single piece or not, but if you are, have fun moving it!