Tedswoodworking Plans

16.000 Woodworking Plans by Ted McGrath

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Ql'd like to know more about a material called MDF, which is often mentioned in various projects. Just what is it?

Robert Landis Sc. Marys, Pennsylvania

A MDF, or medium-density fiberboard, is a manufactured wood product that's in the same family as particleboard. But unlike particleboard, which is a mixture of wood chips and shavings held together with resin, MDF is much more refined. The finer the

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material (see photo at right), the tighter it can be compressed to form a denser, stronger panel.

ADVANTAGES. Breaking down wood into a fibrous material has some advantages. First, it has no grain pattern, so humidity has little effect on MDF, making it extremely stable. Second, the fine fibers result in a very smooth, flat, and uniform surface. This makes it the perfect base for wood veneer and plastic laminate.

Third, its higher density holds an edge better than particleboard (see photo at the bottom). And you won't have problems with voids, like in plywood.

MACHINING. A standard sheet of MDF is 49" x 97" (the extra is for trimming). It's available as thin as %2" and as thick as as in the photo below. It can be worked like any other wood product, including traditional joinery like dovetails and tongue and groove. Because of the glues used in the manufacturing process, MDF will

dull steel cutting tools quickly, so carbide cutters and blades are recommended. About the only thing you shouldn't do is run MDF through a thickness planer or over an edge jointer.

Safety Note: Since the fibers are so fine to begin with, working with MDF kicks up a lot of fine dust that can hang in the air for quite a while. When working with MDF, and especially during sanding, proper ventilation is required. Use a dust col

lector if possible, and ^^ always wear a dust mask. WF

FINISH. You can find MDF unfinished, or with wood veneer or plastic laminate already applied to it.

You'll find that MDF takes paint well. Unlike particleboard or plywood, which the surface texture or grain shows through, MDF looks smooth after a coat of primer and a couple of coats of paint.

Note: Whenever I use MDF for shop jigs , I protect it with a couple of coats of wiping varnish.BS

-a Available in several thicknesses, the dense structure of MDF means that it cuts and routs more like solid wood. Using carbide router bits, you can rout crisp, clean profiles in MDF.

hardware & supplies



You'll only need a few pieces of hardware to build the DVD storage case on page 16. All of the hardware I used came from Rockier.

The brass file drawer pulls with cardholder (#70763) on the front of the drawers added a great look to the storage case. They also make it easy to locate the contents in each of the drawers.

I also added stem bumper glides (#28373) to the top of each drawer. These help the drawer slide as it's opened and closed.

If you plan on making more than one storage case and connecting them together, you'll need a couple of other items. The first is some 1A"-20 standard barbed threaded inserts (#32025). Then to join them together, you need some V4" x 1" Fh machine screws. You should be able to find these items (or similar hardware) at your local hardware store or home center.


You can find bargain router bit sets at most home centers, local discount stores, and several of the sources listed in the margin. The TlmberHne router bit set featured on page 8 is available from Amana Tool as well as the Woodsmith Store.


The platform bed on page 22 requires minimal hardware. All it takes is one package of bed rail fasteners (#28597) from either Rockier or the Woodsmith Store.

You'll also need to get a flush trim plunge router bit to cut the mortises for the fasteners. The one I used came from Amana Tool (#45460-S) and was V wide with a cutting depth of V4". You'll often find them listed as dado cleanout bits by the manufacturer.


One of the things that makes the mirror on page 32 so striking is the variety of woods and the patterns used for the inlays. You'll need to obtain these materials from a specialty supplier.

The flower marquetry medallions (#333M), tulipwood inlay strips (#397) for the frame pieces, and black inlay strips (#702) I used on the corner blocks all came from Inlay Product World. You'll have to place a minimum order of 10 strips for the tulipwood inlay and 20 strips of the black inlay. The information you need to order these is listed in the margin.

You'll also need some veneer to complete the project. Almost all veneer suppliers and woodworking stores will carry the straight-grain mahogany veneer needed for the corner blocks. The Carpathian elm burl veneer for the frame pieces came from Constantines. You can find ordering information in the margin at right as well.

The last thing you'll need is an adhesive for the veneer. For this, I used Better Bond Cold Press Veneer Adhesive that I got from Veneer Supplies listed at right.


A miter sled is a great addition to your table saw. The sleds shown in the article on page 14 are available from the manufacturers.

You'll find the Dubby Sled at Inline Industries. Delta makes the Sliding Miter Jig and ifs available through Delta and their retailers. The Deluxe Sled is made by Woodhaven, see sources at right. Both the Delta and Woodhaven sleds are also available at the Woodsmith Store. H

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Similar project supplies may be ordered from the following companies:

Woodsmith Store 800-444-7002

Amana & Timberline Router Bits, Bed Rail Fasteners, Countersink Bits, Bin Pulls, Miter Saw Blades, Table Saw Miter Sleds

Rockier 800-279-4441

Bed Rail Fasteners, Bumpers, Bin Pulls, Threaded Inserts

H. Behlen 866-785-7781

Finishing Supplies, Lacquer, Rubbing Compound, Varnish

Inlay Product World 610-566-8660

Inlay Strips, Marquetry Medallions

Veneer Supplies 888-598-3633

Veneer Adhesives

Amana Tool 800-445-0077

Amana <t Timberline Router Bits

Constantines 800-443-9667


In-Line Industries 800-533-6709

Dubby Miter Sled

Woodhaven 800-344-6657

Deluxe Miter Sled

Lee Valley 800-871-8158

Countersink Bits

No gaps. That's the goal whenever I'm fitting molding to a project. But this is often easier said than done, particularly when it comes to fitting molding in an inside corner. All it takes is for the corner to be slightly out of square to throw off the fit of a mitered joint. That's where a coped joint comes in.

A coped joint is one where the end of one piece of molding is cut (coped) to match the profile of the mating piece, see photo above and upper drawing at left. When carefully done, the pieces fit together so well that the jointline is nearly invisible, see lower drawing.

ADVANTAGES. You might be wondering why anyone would go to all the trouble of making a coped joint when a simple miter joint would do the job. Actually, there are a couple of reasons.

First, a coped joint will give you a good fit even if your project is a little out of square. With a miter joint, you have to do a lot of fussing and trimming if the corner you're fitting the molding to isn't exactly 90°. But that isn't the case with a coped joint.

The second major benefit is that if the molding pieces should happen to shrink over time, the gap between the two pieces of a coped joint will be a lot less noticeable than if you had used a miter joint.

WHEN TO USE. Coped joints are often used by carpenters when installing baseboard and crown molding. But youH also occasionally find them on furniture projects. A coped joint can be used any place where you're applying molding to an inside corner.

Making a coped joint really isn't as complicated as it looks. There are actually only four steps. The trick is in learning to saw to a line accurately with a coping saw. But that's something that youH pick up quickly with just a little practice.

When it comes to getting perfect-looking joints with molding, nothing beats this traditional woodworking joint.

piece is cut tc

A In a coped jojnt, the end of one fit around the pro file of the mating piece.

A The result is that looks a tight-fitting joint like it has been perfectly mitered.

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