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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-07-2013, 06:53 AM Thread Starter
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I've had this urge to attempt to build some really nice cedar chests for some time, but cetainly am not skilled enough yet to take on the project yet. Part of the reason is that when I calculate the cost of ot the materials that I would need it gets pretty spendy, near $500, and while that is reasonable for a nice piece of furniture, it is to much for me to experiment with and than have to abandon due to my lack of skill.

So, I am thinking of making a scaled down chest and using less expensive materials and see if what I have in mind works in the real world.

I purchased my first piece of MDF yesterday, it is 3/4". Here is my first question, is MDF stable enough to allow me to attach a thin piece of cedar to one side and a thin piece of oak on the other, by thin I mean a quarter inch for example. I believe that this approach is used for making furniture that is much less expensive than solid hard wood. If my experimental model works I may make a full sized chest of the same materials and if that one turns out, it will be usable and then I would move on to making one of solid wood.

Comments on marrying MDF to hardwood veneer are what I'm looking for.

Jerry

Last edited by Jerry Bowen; 02-07-2013 at 08:29 AM.
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-07-2013, 07:42 AM
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I've never tried veneer over MDF, Jerry, but I understand your desire to avoid using expensive materials while you're early in the learning curve. I got around that hump by using cheaper woods, especially pine and poplar. Both machine well, are not too expensive, and can make nice-looking furniture.
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-07-2013, 07:59 AM
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Why not start with a toy chest made out of 3/4 MDF first. Nearly 30 years ago I made at least six of them measuring 3' x 18" x 18" tall. I routed simple patterns on the sides, front and tops followed by spray painting. I fitted castors, partly hidden by a plinth of 2" x 1"

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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-07-2013, 08:07 AM
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Veneer over MDF has been a favorite of speaker builders for years. The MDF is superior in terms of acoustic qualities and the veneer gives the enclosure a very nice finished look. Just be sure to seal all exposed surfaces to prevent moisture seeping in.

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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-07-2013, 08:12 AM
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Here's some tips from Parts Express' speaker building section.

Parts Express - How To Build Your Own Loudspeakers

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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-07-2013, 08:43 AM
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I would go with what Bryan said.
Solid woods do have some problems that that would add to your experience.
MDF is a material I avoid, because I seem to have bad reactions to the chemicals in it.
Anyway, models of larger items is a very good way to get the feel, and sort out mistakes.

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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-07-2013, 08:52 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harrysin View Post
Why not start with a toy chest made out of 3/4 MDF first. Nearly 30 years ago I made at least six of them measuring 3' x 18" x 18" tall. I routed simple patterns on the sides, front and tops followed by spray painting. I fitted castors, partly hidden by a plinth of 2" x 1"
Hi Harry,
Thanks for your suggestion. I am thinking along the lines that you you suggested. I am thinking that when I master the task of making the cedar chests that I would like to be able to make both the expensive kind out of solid wood and the less expensive kind made of MDF covered with veneer. So, my initial chest, the small ones that you are talking about, need to be made the same way the large one's are so that I can find out the ins and out of adding the veneer to the MDF.

Jerry
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-07-2013, 11:13 AM
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Now you will have a good excuse to build a vacuum press.
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-07-2013, 01:40 PM Thread Starter
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Now you will have a good excuse to build a vacuum press.
Richard,
I have no idea what a vacuum press is.

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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-07-2013, 03:31 PM
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Quote:
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Here is my first question, is MDF stable enough to allow me to attach a thin piece of cedar to one side and a thin piece of oak on the other, by thin I mean a quarter inch for example
Hi Jerry

I'm convinced that some of the great cabinetmakers of the past would have near as darn it killed to get hold of MDF. It is extremely flat (much better than any plywood), very stable in interior locations, it is highly consistent in structure and it glues well. That makes it an ideal substrate for commercial veneering and is indeed why a lot of commercial furniture such as office reception desks, fittings for high-class pubs, restaurants, hotels, etc are made from it. But note that I said commercial veneer, which is typically 0.6 to 1.5mm thick. You are absolutely right to assume that whatever you put on as a face veneer will need a backer veneer on the opposite surface - miss the backer and the veneer will pull the entire panel out of flat surprisingly quickly - but when that veneer gets beyond a certain thickness, say 2 to 2.5mm it starts to take on some of the characteristics of the solid wood it was created from. 1/4in (6.35mm) is a lot thicker than the veneers used in plywood. That means that it will move with changes in the air temperature/humidity - and it will move at a different rate from the MDF to which it is attached. This will result in all sorts of problems of veneer cracking, detaching from the substrate and panels warping - it may take a few years, but it will happen. For that reason many professional cabinetmakers avoid using overly thick veneers and stick to the commercial stuff for larger areas.

On the subject of laying down veneers there is probably no easier to learn technique than hammer veneering (using a home-made veneer hammer and hide glue). Ellmers sell a cold hide glue which is ideal for veneer repairs on antique furniture and for veneering small pieces. It has the major plus point of being completely reversible even after it has set - just warm the veneer with a dry iron and the glue bond will "fail" and can be altered, adjusted, etc

If you are interested in vacuum veneering ther is an excellent site on the subject called Joe Woodworker which covers the subject quite well, including detailed instructions on how to build your own low cost vacuum veneering press

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Phil

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