View Full Version : Cabinet material--MDF birch, oak

06-12-2003, 03:00 PM
I'm scouting around for materials for my first cabinets. I hear of people painting or veneering their cabs, so I wasn't expecting what looks like an easy option. Are other people using this?---

@ my Loew's for $34US, 4x8' sheet

3/4" Birch MDF WPF

3/4" Red Oak C-3 MDF (nicer appearance than the birch, thought).

It's lamintaed MDF sheets. I just wasn't expecting to see something that I would not need to paint or laminate to make look good.

Comments, advice, advisories welcome.

Thank you.

06-12-2003, 03:25 PM
Sounds like the right stuff. Exterior veneer choice is yours - I've worked in the oak and like the results are fine. I stain with Minwax "Early America" for a darker walnut-like color, hand rubbed finish.

Here's what JBL sez:


and the excerpt (sorry for the hasty preparation!):

Mr. Widget
06-12-2003, 07:49 PM
If you are building cabinets that will not be moved often, in a typical home setting, I would recommend either MDF or MDF that is pre veneered as you have mentioned. If you will be moving the speakers much, I would recommend multi-ply hardwood plywood. It is sold as Baltic Birch, Finn Ply, Apple Ply... these are all different but similar enough. They are much denser and stronger than standard fir plywood from your basic lumber yard and much more durable than particle board or MDF.

I would recommend that you look in the phone book under plywood, cabinet maker's suppliers, or under lumber for someone who specializes in plywood. Every large town has at least one specialty plywood lumber dealer, they will have a selection that will blow your mind if you have never ventured beyond Lowe's or Home Depot.

Even if you are only getting a sheet or two of MDF, they will probably be less expensive, and it will be fun to see what your options are.

If you haven't built mitered boxes that you are proud of before I would not recommend that you buy a $200 sheet of Birds Eye Maple and proceed to make fire wood out of it. To get around this, years ago before I had a real shop and 30 years experience I would build my boxes out of MDF with butt joints, sand them down smooth and cover them with paper backed flexible veneer applied with contact cement. This veneer is real wood like traditional veneer but it is much easier to apply. You can find several sources for it in the back of "Fine Woodworking Magazine" or try this site:


Another benefit of veneering your cabinets after building raw MDF boxes is that it will allow you to evaluate the design before you invest in more costly materials. I am not very fond of your basic you betcha Red Oak, but you can even get that in veneer.

Since you haven't built speakers before you may want to check this out as it has some useful guidelines:


06-13-2003, 05:56 AM
Id say if your going to move them around much MDF Is much too fragile even veneer covered. i used the venneer covered 3/4 mdf very nice. Veneering the cabnets is not all that difficult you know. Last pair I made i used 1"MDF 130lb a sheet then used the speakers for a while Made up my mind they were good then found a nice veneer to cover them. There are MANY great grains to be had. You can always build in solid corner strips like jbl dose on the L300 Check out these 4350 out of 3/4" veneer covered MDF with Iron on end panels. These sold for 3600.00 on ebay cost me around 2000 to make.