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Thread: QUESTION: Can MDF be planed like regular wood?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    QUESTION: Can MDF be planed like regular wood?

    I have a friend that wants me to build him a chess board. He is supplying "sacred wood". (don't know what his attachment is and ain't gonna ask. )

    Anyway, the lights parts will be pearwood (about 1/4") and the darks will be a burl veneer (about 1/124"). I considered on putting the 1/4" pear on a 1/4" MDF. The putting the veneer on a 1/2" MDF so they would be about the same thickness, then plane down the MDF sides to level everything up.

    Your thoughts...????????????

    Thanks in dvance for your valuable input.

    Ken
    If you can't fix it with a hammer, you have an electrical problem.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Shoemaker
    the darks will be a burl veneer (about 1/124").

    Um, is that a typo? .008" thick veneer? I've never worked with veneer, but that seems incredibly thin.

    As for your question...No experiance here, but I don't think a planer would work. Even one with a Shelix (sp?) head would turn MDF to the moon's surface (IMO). If it is 1/124", I'd think sandpaper would do the trick.
    Dan

    There are three ways to get something done: Do it yourself, employ someone, or forbid your children to do it.
    -Monta Crane

  3. #3
    Yes you can and it comes out pretty smooth, but you can tell the difference between it and the factory finish.
    Dennis

  4. #4
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    Yes Ken, MDF can be planed. I used a cabinet scraper on some MDF joints Sunday and it worked very well. Suprised me.

    I think your idea will work just fine. You might even get away with rubbing the back of the squares on some sandpaper. Sounds like you'll be removing a very small amount of MDF.

    Have you considered shimming the bottom of the other squares with a piece of paper to bring them up to the 1/2" + 1/124" level?

    If you have a nice set of calipers, another option would be to try for the exact thickness on the pearwood with your planer. You might want to leave it a little thicker than you need and use a scraper instead of a plane to scrape it down to the proper height.

    I think a little shellac or something and a little bit of sanding will seal up the tooled areas so that they don't look too different when you paint them. I've never painted MDF, but I did spill a little shellac on the edge of a piece of MDF. It just looked like it would work pretty well as an edge sealer to me.

    Michael
    Last edited by Michael Adelong; 03-06-2006 at 7:54 PM.

  5. #5
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    Dan - Yep, this burl is as thin as paper. The /124th is not a typo.

    My plan is to lamenate the 1/4" pear to the 1/4" MDF, and veneer the burl to the 1/2" MDF. After cutting two different woods to proper width, I'd "flip them over, MDF side up, and run them thru the planer with the wood face down to get everything to the same thickness.

    The MDF side would be the bottom of the chess board, so machine marks aren't really a problem.

    I'm more concerned with the material exploding, gumming up, or otherwise damaging the machine.
    If you can't fix it with a hammer, you have an electrical problem.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Shoemaker
    Dan - Yep, this burl is as thin as paper. The /124th is not a typo.

    My plan is to lamenate the 1/4" pear to the 1/4" MDF, and veneer the burl to the 1/2" MDF. After cutting two different woods to proper width, I'd "flip them over, MDF side up, and run them thru the planer with the wood face down to get everything to the same thickness.

    The MDF side would be the bottom of the chess board, so machine marks aren't really a problem.

    I'm more concerned with the material exploding, gumming up, or otherwise damaging the machine.

    Its just really rough on blades, but I don't think you are planing enough to worry about. Another option would be to use the burl as a spacer on the pear piece. (Or another "less sacred" veneer of the same thickness )

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    Ken, I've done it, but as Tim says, it's hard on the planer knives. If yours are 2 sided and the other side is dull, I would use the dull ones.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Shoemaker
    Dan - Yep, this burl is as thin as paper. The /124th is not a typo.

    My plan is to lamenate the 1/4" pear to the 1/4" MDF, and veneer the burl to the 1/2" MDF. After cutting two different woods to proper width, I'd "flip them over, MDF side up, and run them thru the planer with the wood face down to get everything to the same thickness.
    Sounds like fragile veneer to me.!!!
    Thanks & Happy Wood Chips,
    Dennis -
    Get the Benefits of Being an SMC Contributor..!
    ....DEBT is nothing more than yesterday's spending taken from tomorrow's income.

  9. #9
    The problem is that if you remove the factory face of the MDF you are left with a super absorbent surface. If I was you I would follow your suggested method but add a final step of laminating the face that you gave planed level with a sheet of backing material something like 4mm MDF if you can get it. This will also help to stabilise the whole board.

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