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Thread: MDF how to finish

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada

    MDF how to finish

    I need some input from the Brains Trust here.

    I am seeking ideas and input on finishing MDF.

    Here is the challenge. I want to be able to peel a sticky backed vinyl printed image and place it on a piece of MDF. But if necessary would like to be able to lift the vinyl and stick a new sticker to the same piece of MDF as one would be able to do were it steel.

    Am I wasting my time even thinking of this or can anyone envisage a process whereby I could finish the said MDF in such a manner that it would produce a durable adhered smooth surface that would resist lifting?

    I am also considering laminating and using a thin piece of Masonite and adhering that to a thicker piece of MDF whereby the thin piece of Masonite would be the sacrificial lamb in the event of the vinyl being changed.

    Both pieces would require CNC routing and alignment I am just trying to look at ways to make changing the front face of a piece of MDF easy and you know me CHEAP. lol

    Thanks for any input. BTW this is for indoor use.

    Anyone have any experience with wrapping vinyl as they do in car wraps? I would like to ask a few questions via pm if possible.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    RETIRED(!) in Austintown, Ohio
    Several coats of shellac will do it. The shellac will soak in and bond to the MDF.

    As an aside - about seven years ago, I made a 'break front' cabinet for my sister. Since she was going to order a granite top for it, I made a 'temporary' top of ¾" MDF, edged with oak, and finished it with half a dozen coats of garnet shellac. (The resultant finish looked very much like leather, btw.) Anyway, it's been seven years, and that MDF countertop is still there, and still looks pretty good, except for a few scratches. I continue to be surprised/amazed at its durability!
    Jim D.
    Adapt, Improvise, Overcome!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Kansas City, Missouri
    Yup, Jim nailed it, seal it and it should be fine. There are a few game arcade builder forums I checked with when building the photo booths. I saw several topics on that very subject and many were doing the same.

    This is one of the forums...

    Another alternative to the shellac is: 1 part glue/ 1 to 2 parts water. apply with foam brush, let dry and sand with 220 grit. repeat process, then paint/finish over that.

    This is actually a pretty good thread on cabinet finishes...,next.html#new

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    The Gorge Area, Oregon
    Maybe just get a piece with melamine on it and skip the finishing part? They have 3/4" melamine faced MDF at the local borg..

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada
    Man the BRAINS here just never cease to amaze me. Thanks Jim, that's up my creek, it will spray on and is cheap. Darren your lateral thinking ability is nothing short of amazing, not only that how the heck you retain all the info of the past research you have done, blows me away. You got darn good memory genes. Ryan, good idea but I am having it cnc routed and the edge of cut outs will be unfinished once routed never mind the cost of anything that has melamine attached if its done anything like properly and in large sheets.

    Glad to have you guys on my team and side. Someday I hope to be able to show my "special project".

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
    You can get melamine paint, that would work, too.

    The other member of Mensa, but not the NRA

    Everyone is a self-made person.

    "The thing about quotes on the internet is that you cannot confirm their veracity" -Abraham Lincoln

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