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Thread: Has Anyone Else Tried MDF?

  1. #1
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    Default Re:Has Anyone Else Tried MDF?

    You already mentioned my only issue with MDF, its weight. Personally, I wouldn't use it to build a module. However, for a home layout, I think it could be a fine alternative to plywood.

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    Default Re:Has Anyone Else Tried MDF?

    Quote Originally Posted by "Admin"
    You already mentioned my only issue with MDF, its weight.
    I'll ditto the Admin on that. I've also used/experimented with OSB - Oriented Strand Board. Also useful, but heavy. OSB and MDF (as well as Masonite) are murder on saw blades.

    If your module is intended to travel, then weight is an issue, not only for simply picking it up, but for the stress that can be put on joints and the overall assembly. If your module is a chunk of the future home layout, than MDF and/or OSB should be given consideration. As should cabinet maker's grades of particle board.
    <center>[b]Christian
    Brockport, New York<center>[b]

  3. #3
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    Default Re:Has Anyone Else Tried MDF?

    Quote Originally Posted by &quot;ClassC&quot;
    OSB and MDF (as well as Masonite) are murder on saw blades.
    VERY good point. You should always use carbide tipped blades when working with these composite type materials. Not only can you ruin sawblades on this stuff very quickly, there are some quality and safety issues involved.

    1. A dull blade could get caught in these materials.
    2. Dull blade could also cause the material to explosively splinter apart during cutting.
    3. Poor edge quality.

    I speak from experience....

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    Default Re:Has Anyone Else Tried MDF?

    If you are looking for another material try 2&quot; styrofoam (high density pink or blue). It makes a very stable and light module. A couple of 1x 2 supports underneath and there you go. If you would like more etail send me a PM and I'll give you all the details. Our Ntrak group has made 6 modules this way (some are 2 years old).


    Garry

  5. #5
    Guest

    Default Re:Has Anyone Else Tried MDF?

    Quote Originally Posted by &quot;GNRail&quot;
    If you are looking for another material try 2&quot; styrofoam (high density pink or blue). It makes a very stable and light module.
    This is another good point. The weight of a module, depending on how it is transported, can go a long way towards determining its longevity. The lighter the module, the less likely it is to get banged up under some conditions.

    I come from a theatrical scenery design and construction background. Foam is used a great deal in that industry for both stage and movie sets. When used properly foam can be quite robust. It also can help eliminate the destruction that can occur when two modules come in contact with each other during transport or setup. Foam bumping into foam could be a toss up. Wood bumping into foam, the wood will win that contest.

    This is not to say MDF (or other composites) is not appropriate in many circumstances.

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    Default Re:Has Anyone Else Tried MDF?

    For my home layout that is &quot;portable&quot; (if I have to move ever) is made of 1x4 lumber for the frame, and then 1/4&quot; luan as the top. On top of that builders foam in 2x8 sheets are put on and the landforms are made. My longest module is 2x20 long and one person can pick it up if they wanted. Even the 4x8 Horseshoe Curve module can be moved by one person if needed.


    Ian
    Ian MacMillan

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    [url=http://www.last.fm/user/Ianscape/?chartstyle=asimpleblue5][img]http://imagegen.l

  7. #7
    Guest

    Default Re:Has Anyone Else Tried MDF?

    That is basically my construction too only I used 1/4&quot; plywood (stupid expense).

  8. #8
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    Default Re:Has Anyone Else Tried MDF?

    I'm not sure we're talking about the same stuff. I know of OSB, which is a man-made material using wood chips and resin, and particle board is sawdust and resin. MDF, as it's name implies, is fibers (paper). I found it very easy to cut and shape. Like the other products, it doesn't like water, so I paint all modules to seal them.

    As to the weight, I just completed 5 new N-track modules. Two corners and a straight using 1/2&quot; plywood with traditional construction. The two I built with MDF are just slightly heavier. You'd have to weight them to really tell a difference. The material is heaver, however, but because of it's flatness, lack of &quot;tweaking&quot;, and strength, you don't need any underside bracing like you do with plywood or other products, so the finished module is not really heavier.

    Call me traditional, but I believe in building things to last. Our N-track modules get carted off to several shows a year. We also have tried several forms of lightweight construction, but we have also experienced modules being droped, bounced around in the back of a trailer, and other mishaps. Some lightweight construction techniques won't hold up to abuse as well.

    One thing I was told about the foam construction. It is not fire resistant, and not only will catch fire, but give off toxic fumes in the process. Has anybody else heard about this, or is this just rumor?

    MOPAC 1
    Remember: An engine and four cars is a toy train, Four engines pulling a hundred cars is a model railroad! MOPAC 1 - Director of the Western Kansas Division, Mid-Continent Region, of the National Model Railroad Association, also the Vice-President, Boot Hill Model Railroad Club

  9. #9
    Guest

    Default Re:Has Anyone Else Tried MDF?

    I don't think anyone is really arguing your point. I believe in building to last too. (and yes that makes you old fashioned :wink: )

    MDF might have gotten better since the last time I used it. I have had trouble with it and other composites in the past. That doesn't mean I don't use them. My wife has used MDF to build quite a bit of furniture. I have plenty of masonite in my current layout. As you can see in my benchwork image album, all my backdrop is masonite. My lighting valence and my fascia will be masonite too. I would still recommend the use of sharp carbide tipped blades when working with all composites. Err on the side of safety.

    Yes, certain foams can catch fire. They can also give off extremely toxic fumes. It ain't a rumour! I have been working with blue foam for almost twenty years. I have used it around pytrotechnics, electricity, and open flame. I have never seen it catch fire (That does not mean it doesn't burn). Houses get wrapped in the stuff. Granted, the interior use of wallboard forms a barrier against it, but it is still exposed to all the interior wiring of a house. I still recommend using caution with foam just as I do with all the materials commonly used to create a layout.

    Many of the items we use in this hobby have a high degree of toxicity, especially if they catch on fire! :shock:

    As for the weight, your probably right, it may be negligible (sp?). And if you can lose some bracing in the process, that is a good thing. I wonder if the glue in MDF is toxic when it burns. Boy we could start another internet flame war with that information.

    Good discussion guys!

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