Treatment to Toughen up MDF Table Top?

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SteveHGraham
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Treatment to Toughen up MDF Table Top?

Post by SteveHGraham » Fri May 18, 2018 9:59 am

Now that I'm out of the reeking pit known as greater Miami, the Lord has blessed me with a big room I use for various activities. I need to put a table in the room to use as a workbench, because the ottoman isn't working out.

Home Depot has a neat 72" collapsing table for $82. Looks good to me. Problem: the top is MDF, a substance which I hate. Can't handle liquids and so on. I want to put something on the MDF to make it less snowflaky.

A well-known router expert makes his own MDF router tables with MDF tops, and he soaks them with Danish oil. I was thinking I might do that. Truck bed paint is tougher, but it won't go into the cardboard...I mean MDF...the way Danish oil will. It will just sit on top, waiting to flake off.

Are there any other options I should consider?
Every hard-fried egg began life sunny-side up.

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ctwo
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Re: Treatment to Toughen up MDF Table Top?

Post by ctwo » Fri May 18, 2018 11:14 am

how about glue on a mica laminate? I also remember an iron-on plastic coating in various colors (monokote).

Danish oil? Would that soak in and make it swell? Maybe a hard floor varnish?
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NP317
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Re: Treatment to Toughen up MDF Table Top?

Post by NP317 » Fri May 18, 2018 11:22 am

Drop one of those granite quick-tops on it...
~RN

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SteveHGraham
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Re: Treatment to Toughen up MDF Table Top?

Post by SteveHGraham » Fri May 18, 2018 12:28 pm

I'm starting to think I should get a 4-foot folding card table from Home Depot. This won't be my primary workbench. I just need something to put little projects on once in a while.

I considered putting Thompson's Water Seal on MDF, but I read that it will make it swell up.
Every hard-fried egg began life sunny-side up.

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steamin10
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Re: Treatment to Toughen up MDF Table Top?

Post by steamin10 » Fri May 18, 2018 1:06 pm

For a temporary work surface, I have a salvaged counter top that I sawed the back rail off of. Set out on those collapsible horses it can be put in the yard or the shop as needed to hold all the part and workings of today projects. If I had to buy one a six foot bar top ( no back splash) would be my choice. The MDF has a tendency to curl over time with the moisture making it move, but a coupla 1x3 underneath glued and screwed make a good spine that doesnt add much weight. Regular table legs can be added if you like more than saw horses. They run about $15 a set. The hard surface that will shed paint and oil and all manner of liquids is the best tho. That is what I used.

Beware this becomes a collection point for PHD stuff. Piled higher and deeper.

The other alternative is a cull door. bought at the big box store they are usually less than 5 bucks for a door with a blemish on it and it makes a good light wwight table. I trash several a year as I leave them out in the rain and they dissolve into natures recycle bin, I just remove he legs and put them on another door when needed. They are cheep so I dont worry about making drill marks and being unkind to its relatively soft surface. in some cases I use construction screws right into the top to lay things out for assembly.
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warmstrong1955
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Re: Treatment to Toughen up MDF Table Top?

Post by warmstrong1955 » Fri May 18, 2018 1:21 pm

You could laminate with a piece of CDX or ACX on to it.
I have a CDX table top I built, that I keep on my table-saw, for stashing parts & things on. CDX is fine for shop use. Sits in the middle of the shop, between my lathe & mill, and gets a lot of use for 'staging' parts, as well as a place to put mics & things as I'm working.

Bill
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SteveHGraham
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Re: Treatment to Toughen up MDF Table Top?

Post by SteveHGraham » Fri May 18, 2018 4:57 pm

I think I may have been overdoing it, going for a heavy MDF table. I am trying out a small folding plastic table. If it doesn't work, I can always use it for cleaning squirrels. Thanks for the replies.
Every hard-fried egg began life sunny-side up.

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warmstrong1955
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Re: Treatment to Toughen up MDF Table Top?

Post by warmstrong1955 » Fri May 18, 2018 5:22 pm

Nobody wants a dirty squirrel......

:roll:
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TimTheGrim
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Re: Treatment to Toughen up MDF Table Top?

Post by TimTheGrim » Fri May 18, 2018 10:11 pm

I use a 1/4” thick Masonite on top that I liberally coat with boiled linseed oil. That’s been my choice of replaceable workbench surfaces since the ‘70s. Cheap, durable and non glare.
Just be careful with any rags soaked in the linseed oil. They spontaneously combust.
Illigitimi non Carborundum
'96 Birmingham mill, Enco 13x40 GH and Craftsman 6x18 lathes, Reid 2C surface grinder. Duro Bandsaw and lots of tooling from 30+ years in the trade. Now I boil oil.

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Re: Treatment to Toughen up MDF Table Top?

Post by Harold_V » Sat May 19, 2018 3:19 pm

TimTheGrim wrote:
Fri May 18, 2018 10:11 pm
I use a 1/4” thick Masonite on top that I liberally coat with boiled linseed oil. That’s been my choice of replaceable workbench surfaces since the ‘70s. Cheap, durable and non glare.
Just be careful with any rags soaked in the linseed oil. They spontaneously combust.
I, too, use Masonite for my table tops. Never thought of applying the linseed, though, which is a great idea.

H
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Magicniner
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Re: Treatment to Toughen up MDF Table Top?

Post by Magicniner » Sun May 20, 2018 4:45 pm

Seal the MDF with Cyanoacrylate.

In a well ventilated area!

RCRR
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Re: Treatment to Toughen up MDF Table Top?

Post by RCRR » Sun May 20, 2018 5:34 pm

I remember seeing "butcher block" style table tops at home depot years back. I salvaged mine from an old kitchen table and it now holds a desk top mill and a heavy vice (plus everything else that accumulates overnight).

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