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Thread: Finish on MDF Outfeed Table

  1. #1
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    Finish on MDF Outfeed Table

    I am a total novice on finishes.

    I'm building a new table saw outfield table and the top surface is MDF edged with Oak or Maple.

    What would be the best method of finishing, thanks.

  2. #2
    I'd avoid water based finishes because they tend to swell MDF and make it rough, so a couple of coats of shellac followed by paste wax would be my suggestion. Oil based poly would be fine too, but takes a lot longer to dry.

  3. #3
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    I only ever put BLO on the MDF work surfaces I've used. The miter bench that I originally installed in the early 2000s and just decommissioned and removed only ever had BLO on the MDF top and it was in excellent condition when I was ripping it apart a few weeks ago. Some areas were "pristine", as it were.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisA Edwards View Post
    I am a total novice on finishes.

    I'm building a new table saw outfield table and the top surface is MDF edged with Oak or Maple.

    What would be the best method of finishing, thanks.
    If it were me I would cover it with formica. It would be hard enough to last forever and would be completely waterproof. If you wish to paint it you might use an oil based enamel with a hardener. Another option would be an oil based polyurethane. Be sure to seal the underside as well to prevent warpage.

  5. #5
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    I do as Jim does; BLO although I don’t flood the surface. I apply it with a rag. You can add a little bit of Japan dryer and it will cure more quickly, a day or two. The surface of one of my workbenches was done this way and looked fine seven years later when I made a new bench. The new bench also has an MDF top treated the same. I expect to get years of service from it.


    My outfeed table has tempered hardboard as the top surface. On this I did use shellac followed by paste wax. It’s easy to refresh and has worn very well.
    I am familiar with modern idioms but they are outside the vocabulary of what I want to say.

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  6. #6
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    My outfeed (when I had one) was MDF with shellac. Also, believe it or not, my router table top is MDF with shellac. I soaks into the top surface then dries/and hardens nicely. It can be refreshed but I have never had to refresh.

  7. #7
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    Another vote for Formica.

  8. #8
    I do not use BLO not anymore because it won't prevent water penetration, so when you forgot and left that sweaty bottle of cold water on it, or some spilledl water from a glue clean up -- fugetaboutit --- its going to swell.

    I prefer polyurethane. I mix it 50/50 with mineral spirits 3 coats. Glue comes right off. I sand and top coat about once a year.

    Ultimately, I really think laminate is the best, its just more work and expense for a utility table than I want to spend.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Burlington, Washington
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    I've been using the mixture of beeswax, turpentine (to dissolve the beeswax) and BLO on my MDF bench top for the last 10 years; renewing it occasionally.

  10. #10
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    Depends on how you will use it. If just for outfield then something slick will be best.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
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    Lebanon, TN
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    I replicated the SawStop Outfeed table, built by Steve from Highland WoodWorking. When I got to his last video, I saw what he used to finish his product, so I went that route.

    I used Shellac on the MDF, followed by three coals of General Finishes Arm R Seal and then slapped on a couple of coats of General Finishes Top Coat.

    It's super slick, although adding Johnsons Paste Wax seems to add a little bit of friction, i.e. removes a bit of the slickness, but it's still slick.

    I probably should have made it a coupe of inches deeper, currently as shown, it gives me 48" of support past the blade. I can always rotate it 90 degrees to give me more support for an 8' rip cut.



    Last edited by ChrisA Edwards; 10-27-2019 at 12:21 AM.

  12. #12
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    Router guru/teacher Pat Warner built a router table out of MDF and the only finish he used on the counter top was shellac. Will not swell the MDF edges like a water based material would do.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    MA
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    This is my router table mdf with shellac after several years of use. Ditto on my outfeed. Yours looks great!


    20191014_112235_resized.jpg

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