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Posts: 153
Reply with quote  #1 
I tend to shy away from using MDF. I need to know a little more about it from a construction point of view. I realize the safety issues regarding small children. My question is:
Are there different "grades" of MDF.
Harder or softer materials?
Are there different densities?
Can it be purchased in 1/8" size thickness.
I haven't seem any that thickness (1/8") around in my stores.
Is MDF pretty tough for toys where a child will throw it or drop it or "Crash it" against other toys? Say, car crashing into another car.

Also I've used the plywood's with paper backing. Does anyone use those in their toy making. One nice thing about those is their smooth surface and takes paint real well.

One more question:
I've looked into on-line wood supply stores. But shipping costs is a nightmare! Does anyone know of good sources on line with reasonable shipping costs.

Sorry, this is a loaded topic. But any help is appreciated. Thanks

Frank Galica

Posts: 14
Reply with quote  #2 
I would love more insight into MDF as well.  It always sounds like its more hassle to deal with.
Frank - I haven't personally ordered from here yet but their options, pricing and the more you order the better the shipping is so far looks like a good deal.  I found this from other scroll saw blogs.

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Posts: 153
Reply with quote  #3 
Thanks Adam,
I'll check it out.
I also heard somewhere that MDF can be harder on the saw blades due to it's high density fibers and some glues.

Frank Galica

Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #4 
I have used on several occasions and have been happy with the quality of there products

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Posts: 238
Reply with quote  #5 
hi frankg i have found in the uk some of the mdf in the big box stores is not that good and seems not to seal very well i get mine at a timber yard 8"x4" sheet and get them to cut into 4 i try to get a get a branded mdf its not that much more to buy and it seems to cut and seal better you can buy a moisture resistant mdf that is a green colour and that i have found you can paint over the top ok without sealing it on dulling blades i try to use branded scroll saw blades and they seem to last ok hope this helps .gary 
Gary Wisbey

Posts: 28
Reply with quote  #6 
Oocoochhardwood is fine.  I have used them quite a bit.  I notice that most toys on the Forum have a finish.  What do you do with them after so much work?  Craft shows? Gifts or donations?  Constructed for family and friends?  Our club has a "no finish" requirement as we donate all of them (over 4000 last year) for Xmas.



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Posts: 1,179
Reply with quote  #7 
Your definition on where do the toys go after completion is right on. All of the above. Many new members post their intentions when they post in the 'Introduce Yourself' section of the Forum.

You have peaked my interest about your club's 'no finish' policy as well as the members of the Forum.
I am quite curious on what types of wood you and the club commonly use for your toys?
In addition, the stages taken to ensure minimizing/eliminating the possibility of splinters.
I can only guess that sand papers up to and above 400 grit are used.
Could you post a few photos of the toys your club produces and tell us a bit more about your club?
If they have a web site, that would be terrific for us to see also.


Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #8 
Can anybody comment on the finish of toys made from MDF. I find that I can get a wooley or sometimes fibrous fur-like finish that doesnt seem to smooth out through sanding. Do you think this is due to poor quality MDF ? or is there a more likely other cause. All saw blades im using are are new etc.
If it is a quality issue, would someone be brave enough to offer their opinion on a particular brand ?
Peter B

Posts: 891
Reply with quote  #9 
RLE, the wooley/fibrous fur finish you are getting is the actual fibres used to create MDF.
Depending on what sort of finish you are applying will depend on your initial steps.
For a painted finish a light coat of primer needs to be applied to seal/lock in the fibres and then sand with 220-280 grit paper.
For a clear finish, a light coat of whatever poly you will be finishing the toy with to again seal/lock in the fibres and then sand with 220-280 grit paper.
MDF is used in furniture and building industry as painted alternative to hardwoods or pine due to its ease to shape and more cost effective.
Nothing wrong with your equipment, but what I would suggest is that because MDF is such a very fine dust, cutting and sanding, is invest in a good vacuum system because the dust will build up in places of your new equipment like bearings and lungs.
I hope my 2 cents is of some help

Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #10 
Thanks Peter B

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Posts: 639
Reply with quote  #11 
just add my 2 cents worth ,
along with Peter's comment above also make sure you wear a good "PPE"!.

"MDF" is nasty on the lungs as the dust is so fine.

For me I just stay away from it as wood dust is bad enough an I just don't want the extra hassle of messing with it.

My local big box store charges to much for it or at least to me it seems like it...

Anyway just my 2 cents worth, others use it quite a alot and seem to have good luck with finishes and such.

Ed - Making sawdust in the shop [wave]

Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #12 
Good points to consider - cheers


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Posts: 176
Reply with quote  #13 
I make rocker out of MDF like my motorbike rocker which is painted I get a good finish on it by sealing all of the cut edges with a thinned PVA glue this seems to solve problems in that area.
As already mentioned wear PPE and have some sort of dust extraction.

I have so much fun playing with wood.

Posts: 12
Reply with quote  #14 
I am a bit of a fan of MDF but you have to be aware of it's limitations and its strengths. Dust is always a problem no matter what timber you use only more so with MDF I think, so a dust mask-at least- is a must!
I find it really good for "chunkier type components and laminating to form larger sections, but don't try to use it on a delicate part it is just too brittle and can break very easily.
I don't have any real problems with finishing, as "Dalboy" says in his post , thinned PVA glue is a good primer especially on cut /sanded surfaces.
One thing I have found is that you can actually tap a thread into it from about 1/4" up and with a course pitch (ie whitworth or UNC you'll have to work out the metric equivalent)
Another big plus for me is that it is the cheapest thing available in my area and the local shop always has a selection of offcuts although for some reason not 1/4 thick which is a bit of a pain.
I'm not sure how good it is for making wheels but I suspect it would not be too good for the smaller ones but would be OK above 11/2 or 2" diameter.
I'm fairly neutral on the matter of tool wear. Blade life might be down a little bit but for me this is offset by its versatility and low cost. 
Longevity in service? No complaints to date but as I said don't use it for small/Fragile parts that's what hard woods are for.
Have Fun
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