Cabinets, Furniture, Woodworks/MDF/PineWood 1


Hi there,

I am starting my own furniture business. I am particularly interested in kids furniture and some home furniture like bookcases, home office desks,  tables etc.

I am inclined towards using MDF as much as possible for various reasons. MDF is most economic, easy profiling, and most importantly it finishes very well (paint).  The biggest problem is its density.  MDF products are very heavy which makes me think of other alternatives.

Pine wood is another option which is easy to handle, not very heavy, considerably strong (good enough for me) and this also finishes well. The only problem is its surface is soft enough to be scratchable by nails.

Third option is plywood. It's strong, easy to handle but the problem is I don't think it finishes well with paint.

My biggest objective is to make beautiful yet economic furniture and I would need good mix of acrylic and lacquer paint.

I don't have a crisp question but I would like to hear from you how should I decide. I don't mind doing mix and match between woods.

I know IKEA uses MDF a lot and I think they are doing good. But is it very heavy to use??

Please advise..


Hello Sanjay, typically, as you're aware, hardness usually comes with weight, so to strike a medium balance, medium density woods such as Poplar, Maples, Birch, Aspen and other woods are employed to build wood furniture in this part of the world, often combined with panel or 'sheet' goods in their construction. Pine has many properties that make it less desirable, unless "clear" Pine is used, but it's price will often be equal or even higher than a comparable, harder wood like Poplar....softness,abrasion resistance, grain stability, shrinkage and other issues make it less than ideal for a lot of things. Fiber boards like MDF, HDF, etc are very stable, don't warp, etc...but they are typically fairly heavy, although lighter products like Tru Pan ultralight MDF are showing up, as well as panel products with lowered or no urea forhaldehyde. Many, many type of sheet goods are manufactured, from many, many different species of wood. Those species, number of plies, or even lumber core types, all will make a difference as to weight, finishing idiosyncrasies, hardness, cost, etc.Many plywoods will finish beautifully like Poplar, Birch, Maple, etc....laminated products are also available, melamine coated colored products too, that are essentially prefinished. In the U.S. we have companies like Connecticut Plywood (local to my area) that specialize in these products...but the product range is many choices. Obviously, what's available to you in your location will vary wildly, and based on design, finishing schedule, would need to choose from the locally available product suppliers to keep cost to a minimum.Your deciding factors would take all this into consideration, and obviously at the top of the list will be to keep manufacturing and finishing costs low, to maximize profit and still keep the retail price point competitive. No easy task if you're going to build to compete against someone like Ikea.Hope I've helped a little, but it is a regional thing as to what you can source locally, with regularity and quality control......regards- Greg

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Greg Scholl


Questions on Woodworking, wood finishing and refinishing of all kinds, repairing furniture and wooden objects, Architectural details, Woodturning, carving, tool usage, product usage, some chemistry as it applies to woodworking and related interests,cabinet making and furniture construction/design, etc. I have experience with all manners of colorants, finishes, paints, stains, dyes, glazes, and coatings, wood species recognition and usage,tool recommendations, blade types and recommendation,techniques and methods for many Woodworking related issues, etc.


Fine furniture restorer and cabinet maker for over 30 years,serving high end Antique dealers, Interior designers, Collectors in the CT area. Consulting for area Painting/Decorating and Building contractors on non painting issues..(staining, wood prep.,clear finishing, floor restoration and architectural detail restoration and repair, etc.) Sold, built, serviced, setup Home, Industrial, and Commercial stationary woodworking tools for a major tool retailer in CT. for three years, sold hand and power tools , provided knowledge, parts replacement, service, and on site service, Trade show Demo, and training as well.

Published in Fine Woodworking Magazine (12/97), included on Fine Woodworkings first "Best of Fine Woodworking" CD-ROM (2002) ...("27 year compilation of expert know-how")

Art School at Silvermine Guild in Norwalk, CT., 9 year apprenticeship in a European run Cabinet and Restoration shop in CT., various classes on subjects having to do with the field. Seminars from major Tool manufacturers, Skil/Bosch, Delta, Powermatic, Ritter, Porter cable, Milwaukee, Dewalt/B&Decker, Performax.

Past/Present Clients
Many varied clients including work on Martha Stewarts' Westport, CT. show house, many fine Antique dealers and private collectors in and around Fairfield County and in Woodbury, CT. (the Antiques capital of CT.), Golden Age of Trucking Museum,Consulting for area Painting/Decorating and Building contractors on non painting issues..(staining, wood prep.,clear finishing, floor restoration and architectural detail restoration and repair, etc.), local Museums and Historical Societies. For the last two years I have been employed with Schwenke Auctioneers Inc.- Woodbury Auction LLC., as a staff photographer,IT tech,and doing restoration and repair work as well.

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