Is Low-Density MDF Strong Enough for Shop Cabinets?
I’m building a series of storage cabinets for my shop. Some (24 in. deep by 30 in. wide by 30 in. tall) will roll on casters and some (10 in. deep by 48 in. wide by 48 in. tall) will be wall-hung. Is low-density MDF strong enough for these applications?
Bud Leste, Tucson, AZ
Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) is a fine choice for constructing woodshop cabinets and shelving. And the lighterweight (lower-density) material now offered will work just fine for tool-storage cabinets on casters. For wall-hung cabinets, a 48-in. span on the shelves is too much for any 3/4-in.-thick MDF (or even plywood for that matter). For a cabinet that wide, I’d add a center divider to stiffen it up.
For a sturdy case, you can add a thick edging to the front of the shelves, or you can install a center divider using a dado, a tongue-and-groove joint (for an example, see Fine Woodworking #170, p. 79), a butt joint, or biscuits.
The Web site www.pbmdf.com/buyerguide/tbshelving1.htm covers the engineering specs on using MDF for shelving applications.