Sealing a MDF workbench top - Router Forums
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-18-2012, 05:32 PM Thread Starter
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Default Sealing a MDF workbench top


I'm building a modest cost workbench for my shop which will use two layers of 0.75" thick MDF for a 49x97" top . I had several old quarts of Olympic Antique Oil which I was using as a sealer, but ran out before completing the job. I was applying two coats of the Olympic product to all surfaces and will then bolt the two layers of MDF together. Since I don't want to spend a lot money on a surface that I just want to seal and then use as a "wear" surface during my work, I'm looking for the cheapest way to complete the job. I have a 1/2 gallon of Bulls-eye One Coat shellac which is a sealer, but I don't know what it'll do for MDF. I also have pure tung oil, mineral spirits and poly that can be mixed to a light viscosity. I'm not crazy about using the tung oil on such a project (it seems wasteful) but I've had problems with Boiled Linseed Oil drying.

Any thoughts?


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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-18-2012, 06:23 PM
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Lowe's/Home Depot sell a white plyboard about 1/4" thick for about $15.00 for a 4'x8' piece just screw these down on top and it will be nice and pretty plus white side up helps light reflect in shop and best of all when it's all torn up just replace with a new piece, save the tung oil for a nice project

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-18-2012, 07:16 PM
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50/50 mix of yellow glue and water. Just about anything else will get absorbed. One of the down sides of MDF is its ability to soak up almost anything like a sponge.

But I did what Warren suggested. Worked great.

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-18-2012, 07:18 PM
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The Bull's Eye works fine. I use it on all mdf before painting to avoid any bleed thru and for a better finish. You could have just left it alone, a shop I worked out used it that way with no problems. Good hard enamel paint would work. Urethane would work too. I would be careful putting anything on that is meant to soak in. That could cause it to swell.

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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-19-2012, 07:36 AM
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I use MDF in a 2 ply configuration for many projects and always use a decent shellac and a roller on all surfaces before I put it in stock. The I use spray contact cement on one surface to piece together. I've never found bolting to be required. Keep MDF away from water based anything and it is easy to work with. If your goal is a disposable surface - screw on a sheet of shellacked Masonite, cheap, thin, tough and easier to replace.

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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-19-2012, 10:13 AM
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Like Warren I use a piece of 1/4" MDF (Home Depot) as a work surface. I don't worry about sealing it since when it becomes too funky with glue or paint drippings it is cheap enough to toss & replace. I do have the doubled 3/4 as the stable surface under the 1/4" piece. Some Masonite comes with a sealed side and that works well too.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-19-2012, 08:23 PM
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We built my workbench out of 2x4's for the frame and OSB for the top. (and 1x6 for the trim) To get to top smooth, we used the brown board (like the white board Warren said, but just brown) cuz it was cheap. I used copper finishing nails to finish it, because I wanted it to look good but didn't want the slippery top of the white board. However, I may use the white board next time, and just use a non-skid liner to put my work on. I like the idea of the reflection off the white board to help with light.


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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-28-2012, 09:54 AM
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I got a nice cheap piece of MDF at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore a few years back. It seemed as though it was waxed and has worked wonderfully as a work surface. Could this be the case and maybe an answer for Thrifty? The glue/water thing doesn't seem quite like what is on this board but the "wax" isn't really flaking off either.

Any ideas?
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-28-2012, 07:34 PM
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just for reference, another name for the masonite is hardboard

Tempered Hardboard

The White hardboard

Last edited by Chris Curl; 11-28-2012 at 07:41 PM.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-29-2012, 07:42 AM
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I used apiece of MDF for my workbench and painted it with a cheap white paint from Big Lot's. I found a pawn shop that has tons of odds and ends of paint- quarts to five gallons.

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