MDF Selection for Veneered Cabinet Doors

A little basic info about medium density fiberboard. October 26, 2011

I am veneering slab doors for a kitchen using MDF. I have never worked with this material before and need info on what I should be looking for when I purchase it. Are there different grades? Is the MDF that I purchase from my local lumber supplier (not Home Depot) a lesser grade?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor B:
It all depends on what you bought. MDF comes in different densities and thus surface hardness. Some is considered an exterior material for use in signs, some is good at being routed, some is lighter in weight than others. Some is designed to turn table legs out of and comes in 3" thick sheets. MDF can be anything, so you need to ask your supplier what exactly they are selling. Plumb Creek is one of the manufacturers of MDF I like.

From contributor C:
When you say veneering, are you talking like getting a raw MDF sheet and laying thin veneer on top? Sounds like a heck of a lot of work.

If they are standard slab doors, you should be able to buy 8 X 4 sheets of pre-veneered MDF 19mm thick. Most come with an A grade front and downgrade back but you can get A/A sheets as well. Then you just cut to size and edge with veneer edge tape. Imagine the labor that could save you.

Just make sure you get MR (moisture resistant) board if it's going into a kitchen.

Work on having really good dust extraction and mask up when you're cutting MDF - it is a very fine dust and is said to be carcinogenic over long term exposure without a respirator.

From contributor D:
Here in southern CT we have 3 types available to us - Ranger, the most dense; Temple, not as dense; and Trupan, lightweight. Ranger is the best when it comes to machining. They are all fine for a flat surface, but we always use the Ranger. I like how dense it is and the weight always feels good in a door.

From contributor M:
The exterior sheets are MDO not MDF. The only real problem with MDF for slab doors is that you need to set hinges in it. No grade of MDF holds a screw very well. It's fine for a veneered panel in a solid wood frame where the wood takes the screws, but on a slab you will see most manufacturers apply inset to hold the screws.

From contributor B:
There is an exterior grade of MDF designed for road signs, and euro hinges hold very well in the material.