What kind of wood is MDF? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-05-2005, 12:06 AM Thread Starter
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What kind of wood is MDF?

MDF was mentioned in a post by Pjan who built an Amano-style stand. What is MDF?
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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-05-2005, 12:11 AM
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MDF- Medium density fiber board. Is basically saw dust from lots of different woods that is mixed with glue and pressed into a mold.


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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-05-2005, 12:17 AM
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makes for a very clean front of the stand look, and is very thick and hard. Good for setting tanks on that are flat bottomed. Easy to paint too.

I built my stand out of 2x12's and then put the MDF as a border for visual reasons.

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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-05-2005, 01:39 AM
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You really need to seal it well. MDF doesn't like getting wet. I made my hood out of MDF and it has held up quite well.
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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-05-2005, 01:52 AM
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For several reason I just do not support plywood or particle board. It might be fine for lesser ventures, but this is your fish tank. I am a firm believer in doing it right the first time, especially when it has to support so much. A stand made from oak, maple, or even pine would look better as well.
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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-05-2005, 09:23 AM
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its the same wood used to make speaker boxes.
i would be careful using it like someone above said, if it gets wet, it can be disasterous.
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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-05-2005, 10:19 AM
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it is very strong stuff. the downside is it's super heavy and doesn't like water.
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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-05-2005, 10:42 AM
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Another nice feature of MDF - it doesnt't split when you drive screws into it, like real wood can do if you're not careful.

I know it's been said, but I'll say it again - it loses its integrity if it gets wet!

In the first apartment I ever rented, some idiot decided to use MDF for the floor under my upstairs bathroom's carpet. There's nothing quite like stumbling half-asleep into the bathroom for a morning whizz, only to fall through the floor..
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post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-05-2005, 10:53 AM
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also be careful when working with mdf as the small particles are poisonous - always wear a dust mask when cutting or sanding it.
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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-05-2005, 11:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkCobra
Another nice feature of MDF - it doesnt't split when you drive screws into it, like real wood can do if you're not careful.

I know it's been said, but I'll say it again - it loses its integrity if it gets wet!

In the first apartment I ever rented, some idiot decided to use MDF for the floor under my upstairs bathroom's carpet. There's nothing quite like stumbling half-asleep into the bathroom for a morning whizz, only to fall through the floor..

MDF will split


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post #11 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-05-2005, 12:05 PM
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if you drive the screws too close to the edges it will sort of break off chunks of mdf. it's a good idea to drill pilot holes with a smaller bit than the screw if you use it.
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post #12 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-05-2005, 02:34 PM
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For the aquarist, MDF is probably best suited to "dress up" a stand, in other words to cover 2x4 studs, rather than to provide structural integrity.

When working with MDF, best to do it outside (the dust is indeed toxic, as mentioned above). I have worked on MDF with a router and there was more dust than you could ever imagine. Biscuits work well with MDF but the edges might not hold a screw very well. Pocket hole screws will work but IME you need to use the coarse thread ones. When using regular screws, I have found it best to drill the pilot hole, then use a counter sink bit on BOTH sides on the pilot hole. If you don't drill a counter sink on the "back side", the MDF can "bunch up" when you drive your screw, and the pieces won't fit well together.

As far as sealing goes, do a search on the forum for "spar" or "varnish".
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post #13 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-05-2005, 04:08 PM
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There's also a 'moisture resistant' variety of MDF that is even denser and heavier. I used it to make the tank enclosure pictured below. I sealed it with an oil-based sealer and then used a roller to paint it with exterior grade latex. After a few coats, it had a nice orangepeel effect. It's never had a problem getting wet, but is well sealed. It's also an *enclosure* and is not supporting any weight. It's good to work, stays straight and easy to finish. Yep, routering makes a boatload of nasty dust.


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post #14 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-05-2005, 04:21 PM
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Since you have already got your answer to what MDF is...I would just like to pass along a little tip.
Google is your friend.

My tanks:
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- 10g - 5g - 2.5g
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post #15 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-05-2005, 04:49 PM
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I found out last week that MDF can even be made out of sugar cane fiber (after it is processed for sugar) - so it is not always even made of wood.

I visited a Rum distillery last week.

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