Working with HDPE Sheet Goods

Tips on cutting, machining and joining high density polyethylene (HDPE) sheet goods for cabinet fabrication. July 27, 2008

Does anyone work with Starboard? I need to build an outdoor kitchen out of it. What is best way to router door designs by hand?

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor G:
I just did an outdoor kitchen out of Extera, then painted it with ML Campbell Euro 2 stage paint. The Extera will eat your shaper (dull by the end of the job), but you should be able to charge for the sharpening or new cutters. The paint is awesome and easy to use. Pay attention to the directions. Don't know what Starboard is.

From the original questioner:
Star board is plastic type material, used mainly in boats.

From contributor J:
I've done a bit of repair work with Star Board. It's just HDPE in thick, sheet-good form. I didn't do enough to know for sure, but it didn't seem to dull cutters too badly. It doesn't sand easily, so make sure your machines are leaving as good a surface as possible.

From contributor R:
I used a bunch of it when working at Disney (they like stuff that won't rot). Like said - cuts, routes no problem, and not rough on tooling. Doesn't sand for crap (it's plastic, after all). Clean up is a pain, static electricity, just like Azek.

From the original questioner:
Is there a special kind of glue to use? What if I have to sand a joint - how will it look? They want a v-groove decorative door. Do you think this can be done with router and guide or on a shaper? Thanks.

From contributor N:
We've done a few outdoor kitchens with Starboard. Great stuff. Cuts fine, routers fine. We do the v-grooves on the doors as well - no problems there. Just set up the router table and go. No gluing, it needs to be able to expand and contract. We use 2" stainless steel screws with washers in pre-drilled and countersunk holes.

From the original questioner:
I was thinking of using pocket holes to assemble the box where needed and leg levelers.

From contributor T:
Watch the pencil marks! Don't expect to sand. Pre-drill for all screws to screw length (it will split when forced), use 5200 marine adhesive lightly! Pretty cool stuff. Have you checked out their laminated color sheets? Wish I had a CNC.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor M:
This is interesting. We've been using King Starboard for the past 15 years and love it. We used to be in the marine trade but there is not much marine trade left. We now produce a line of outdoor furniture. Mechanically fastening the material is the practical way to fasten it. Even the 5200 will lose its grip over time, nothing sticks well to it. You can weld it using a special machine but it is expensive and takes practice. We cut everything on the CNC so it comes out with a very nice edge. We then use an off line router set up to do the edge treatment. We have been using plugs recently to cover the screw heads and it appears to be working well. We undercut the receiving hole and then we freeze the plugs to make them contract in size, we do add a small drop of crazy glue when we install the plugs for added hold, but when the plug reaches room temp, it expands to fit very snug in the hole.