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Thread: Big Box Mdf Sheets for vacuum spoilboard?

  1. #1

    Big Box Mdf Sheets for vacuum spoilboard?

    I finally bought a hurricane black box vacuum for my router. I picked a bad time to do it I guess because lite and ultra lite mdf are impossible to find. The distributors around me say 2 factories burned down and the pandemic combined make it really hard to get. They say even regular mdf is hard to get

    So, is anybody using big box mdf for their vacuum spoilboards? Will it lessen the hold down power much?

    I was originally looking for 5x10 from distributors, but they laugh at me when I ask for that, so I'll have to piece together some 4x8's and I guess seal the seams. My router is a bit under 5 feet by a bit under 9, so this makes things even more complicated.

  2. #2
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    Not a direct answer to your question, but I purchased a sheet of MDF from home depot a few months ago and there were metal fibers that tripped my SawStop.

  3. #3
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    Look to someplace like Wurth/Baer you'd be able to get 5x9. Home center MDF is typically standard MDF. You can tell just by looking at it. Seal your edges on straight MDF with the hurricane and you should be able to hold down pretty much anything above 100 sq in once you break both faces. If you have zone control you can hold a lot smaller choking off zones and blocking unused areas with scraps. Light weight is nice when you can find it but we never can. If you run any volume youll be surfaced down to 5/8" pretty quick. If your worried about hold down just go with 1/2".
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  4. #4
    Most of the ultralight I've used in the last few years was free, in the form of cover sheets. Delivery driver thinks I'm a loon, but I got all kinds of stoked when I realized some of the dunnage/cover sheets were actually ultralight. Sad to hear it's such a problem, as the ultralight seems to really make a difference.

    If you ever do get the ultralight for your spoil board, I've learned from others to try using standard MDF sheets as a condom for lack of better terms, over the top of my precious Trupan spoilboard. It just lays loosely over existing spoilboard, and holds down reasonably well as long as material is not terribly unruly (like home center potato-chip shaped ply). This way, you are preserving that bleeder layer and destroying just the slip sheet.

    More direct to your question: experience shows standard MDF can work okay, just seems to need a good 1/16" shaved off both faces to get rid of that super-packed surface and get some air flowing.
    Fortunately, my distributor currently does have 5x8 sheets of regular MDF, but you have 10' table?

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Bolton View Post
    Look to someplace like Wurth/Baer you'd be able to get 5x9. Home center MDF is typically standard MDF. You can tell just by looking at it. Seal your edges on straight MDF with the hurricane and you should be able to hold down pretty much anything above 100 sq in once you break both faces. If you have zone control you can hold a lot smaller choking off zones and blocking unused areas with scraps. Light weight is nice when you can find it but we never can. If you run any volume youll be surfaced down to 5/8" pretty quick. If your worried about hold down just go with 1/2".
    Thanks for the info. I found a wurth about 1.5 hours from my house and they do have 5x10 regular mdf, at the moment. I guess Iíll have to rent a Home Depot truck and go down there. The funny thing is i didnít have anything to haul 4x8 material in for a while and I finally just recently got a van to do that, and now I need 5x10 material and canít haul that.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Bob McBreen View Post
    Not a direct answer to your question, but I purchased a sheet of MDF from home depot a few months ago and there were metal fibers that tripped my SawStop.
    I read that. That is an expensive issue. Thanks for the warning.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Roltgen View Post
    Most of the ultralight I've used in the last few years was free, in the form of cover sheets. Delivery driver thinks I'm a loon, but I got all kinds of stoked when I realized some of the dunnage/cover sheets were actually ultralight. Sad to hear it's such a problem, as the ultralight seems to really make a difference.

    If you ever do get the ultralight for your spoil board, I've learned from others to try using standard MDF sheets as a condom for lack of better terms, over the top of my precious Trupan spoilboard. It just lays loosely over existing spoilboard, and holds down reasonably well as long as material is not terribly unruly (like home center potato-chip shaped ply). This way, you are preserving that bleeder layer and destroying just the slip sheet.

    More direct to your question: experience shows standard MDF can work okay, just seems to need a good 1/16" shaved off both faces to get rid of that super-packed surface and get some air flowing.
    Fortunately, my distributor currently does have 5x8 sheets of regular MDF, but you have 10' table?
    Dang you got lucky.

    My table is right around 9ft. I called every distributor I could find within 100 miles and they all said ultra lite is rare or hard to get now, in any size. This kind of bums me out because I was really hoping to improve my hold down with it. I feel like Iím not going to get the most out of my new vacuum system because of it. I always read about people using ultra lite so I assumed it was pretty easy to get, before I bought the vac.

    When you used the regular mdf over the trupan did you use 3/4Ē or 1/2Ē?

    thanks

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Evans View Post
    Dang you got lucky.

    My table is right around 9ft. I called every distributor I could find within 100 miles and they all said ultra lite is rare or hard to get now, in any size. This kind of bums me out because I was really hoping to improve my hold down with it. I feel like I’m not going to get the most out of my new vacuum system because of it. I always read about people using ultra lite so I assumed it was pretty easy to get, before I bought the vac.

    When you used the regular mdf over the trupan did you use 3/4” or 1/2”?

    thanks
    What are you struggling to hold?
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Evans View Post
    Thanks for the info. I found a wurth about 1.5 hours from my house and they do have 5x10 regular mdf, at the moment. I guess I’ll have to rent a Home Depot truck and go down there. The funny thing is i didn’t have anything to haul 4x8 material in for a while and I finally just recently got a van to do that, and now I need 5x10 material and can’t haul that.
    Not sure about your branch but 600 bucks hits free freight via their truck if they hit your area. Not hard to hit a $600 order with all they have and you get to stay in the shop and work as opposed to windshield time, gas, rent.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Bolton View Post
    What are you struggling to hold?
    nothing yet. The vacuum is not set up yet. I just hate the idea of going through all the expense and work of setting up the hurricane black box and getting sub par performance because ultra light mdf is not available in my area. I wish I had looked before i bought the vac, but I assumed it was easy enough to find since I have read so many people recommending it.

    I make lots of random things, sometimes on the small side. I have read of someone being able to hold really small things, like a few square inches, if cut strategy is right, with their black box set up using ultra light. So I bought one. Now no ultra light is available and people say regular mdf is ok at best.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Evans View Post
    nothing yet. The vacuum is not set up yet. I just hate the idea of going through all the expense and work of setting up the hurricane black box and getting sub par performance because ultra light mdf is not available in my area. I wish I had looked before i bought the vac, but I assumed it was easy enough to find since I have read so many people recommending it.

    I make lots of random things, sometimes on the small side. I have read of someone being able to hold really small things, like a few square inches, if cut strategy is right, with their black box set up using ultra light. So I bought one. Now no ultra light is available and people say regular mdf is ok at best.
    I wouldnt get carried away over-thinking it (what we all do). We have the same vac and I honestly dont know that I'd want something different unless I had a need to push 10x harder than we do which my machine isnt capable of anyway. Shops with 50HP of vac still struggle with holding small parts but I have very little trouble other than when Im lazy about cut strategy or with some very slick/small parts. Ive never run ULDF or LDF for the same reasons. Its just not common from my distributors. Straight/cheap MDF has always worked find even when a fresh board it put on (.040 off each face) and as I mentioned if you surface often you'll quickly have less and less to pull through.

    Where the F4/Hurricane shines for small shops is you only have to run the stages you need for the job. I have a ton of jobs that run with just a single stage (though Im always nervous if that stage were to drop out I'd lose all vac so usually 2 minimum). But when I do run a single stage, especially in the summer, the reduced noise, heat, and electricity, is a blessing as opposed to having a massive pump running to cut a bunch of full sheets or smaller stuff.

    I'd buy another one in a heartbeat and I'd honestly think hard about adding a second one if I had the work that needed more hold down. At least when you dont need it its off and not costing a dime.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Bolton View Post
    I wouldnt get carried away over-thinking it (what we all do). We have the same vac and I honestly dont know that I'd want something different unless I had a need to push 10x harder than we do which my machine isnt capable of anyway. Shops with 50HP of vac still struggle with holding small parts but I have very little trouble other than when Im lazy about cut strategy or with some very slick/small parts. Ive never run ULDF or LDF for the same reasons. Its just not common from my distributors. Straight/cheap MDF has always worked find even when a fresh board it put on (.040 off each face) and as I mentioned if you surface often you'll quickly have less and less to pull through.

    Where the F4/Hurricane shines for small shops is you only have to run the stages you need for the job. I have a ton of jobs that run with just a single stage (though Im always nervous if that stage were to drop out I'd lose all vac so usually 2 minimum). But when I do run a single stage, especially in the summer, the reduced noise, heat, and electricity, is a blessing as opposed to having a massive pump running to cut a bunch of full sheets or smaller stuff.

    I'd buy another one in a heartbeat and I'd honestly think hard about adding a second one if I had the work that needed more hold down. At least when you dont need it its off and not costing a dime.
    thanks for the info Mark. I do tend to overthink things, especially on big changes to my router where decisions now will affect me for a while. Itís definitely reassuring to hear someone with the same vac using regular mdf.

    I have found 4x10 ultra light about and hour and a half away. But I would have to puzzle piece a few pieces to cover my router table. I have also found 5x10 mdf about the same distance away. So itís either piece together ultra light or have one solid piece of regular. Both have advantages and disadvantages.

  13. #13
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    Shops with 50HP of vac still struggle with holding small parts but I have very little trouble other than when Im lazy about cut strategy or with some very slick/small parts.


    That's natural and expected given how vacuum workholding works...it's depending upon gravity and small surface areas have less downward force available simply because they are small surface areas. The larger the surface area of the component, the more force there is to hold it down.
    --

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

  14. #14
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    Its a combination of sq" of surface area and the material. Things like acrylic (mainly if you leave the film on) are the hardest to hold in my opinion even if they are large. There is something about that film that is super slick. I can cut gloss laminate face down all day long and hold it but a piece of 3/8" acrylic with the film is a nightmare to hold for whatever reason. But beyond that its just about square inches.

    Nesting software addressing low area parts. For me it just a matter of full sheet/return onion skin but I tend to do that anyway just for the dust pickup.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Bolton View Post
    Not sure about your branch but 600 bucks hits free freight via their truck if they hit your area. Not hard to hit a $600 order with all they have and you get to stay in the shop and work as opposed to windshield time, gas, rent.

    that is really good to know, thanks! I do need some more wood too. Iíd like to buy local, but maybe not this time just to get free shipping.

    I donít have an account with wurth. Does anybody know if it is difficult to get one?

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