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I'm gearing up to build my own clamping table--have my Klamp Traks all ready to go. But my thought was to perforate the MDF or melamine top to accomodate F-clamps. Any argument against doing this? Will the holes crumble with use?

_bryan

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i believe festools multifunction  table is just mdf and clamps are used on it, melamine would be a better surface to keep glue cleaned off of but i might do as you said, crumble or chip around the holes,  it might though be durable enough to give you good use and you just replace it when you can't stand it any longer

The ''cut edges'' will chip away.

I'd suggest coating the cut edges with 3 coats of Shellac.

Thin the 1st coat, so as to obtain deeper sealing penetration.

Thank you, gentlemen--that's very helpful. I'll explore the shellac treatment. Sounds like a fair bit of work, though, depending on how many holes I drill. Maybe I should leave the melamine unscathed and build a second plywood-topped table later. Hmmm...

_bryan

Ah, so MDF is less likely to crumble than melamine?

Tom Moores said:

i believe festools multifunction  table is just mdf and clamps are used on it, melamine would be a better surface to keep glue cleaned off of but i might do as you said, crumble or chip around the holes,  it might though be durable enough to give you good use and you just replace it when you can't stand it any longer

Bryan,

  I'd add shellac, to all the drilled holes AND cut edges,

on MDF and particle board.

Use a small bristle brush, when sealing the holes.

It'll prolong the useful life of the work top cut edges.

  It's a simple task---very little energy spent adding the shellac---it’s not as difficult as painting a sided house with a 4’’ brush.

  SUGGESTON:  

Make a plywood base---size to suit your needs---(3ft wide x 2-3ft deep).

Make a separate particle or MDF board, with malamine surfaces.

  Use the malamine top, over the plywood top, when doing glue-ups.

  Secure the malamine top to the plywood top, using (4) 1/4'' flat-head screws---

countersink the screw heads---

install t-nuts from the underside of the plywood top.

  TIP:

Clamp the malamine board to the plywood board---

mark the hole locations---

drill thru holes, in both boards at the same time.

Counter sink the holes for the flathead screws, and counterbore the holes for the t-nuts.

Locate the drilled holes 4'' inches in from each corner.

Add the bench-dog holes, after you've bolted the malamine board to the plywood board.

This will result in the bench-dog holes to be all aligned and smooth.

HINT:

Use a backer board, (scrap 2x4's, or the like), on the back-side, so as to prevent chip-out, when drilling.

Works for me.


Bryan Walden said:

Thank you, gentlemen--that's very helpful. I'll explore the shellac treatment. Sounds like a fair bit of work, though, depending on how many holes I drill. Maybe I should leave the melamine unscathed and build a second plywood-topped table later. Hmmm...

_bryan

Bryan,

The malamine is a smooth laminate sheet material, bonded to MDF or particle board.

The cut edges can still break away.

The malamine provides a smooth surface, that doesn't need further treatment.

  A furniture paste wax can be applied to the malamine work surface, 

so as to reduce friction and keep the glue from sticking.



Bryan Walden said:

Ah, so MDF is less likely to crumble than melamine?


I know this sounds like a lot of extra work, but in either case I'd consider putting a slight chamfer (bevel) around each hole--3/16"-1/8". I've always done this with round dog holes, especially in MDF. This will get rid of the sharp edge that would chip. It's also nice when you inevitably run your finger/hand over the holes as you're working: less pinching. You can use a bearing-guided chamfer bit.

Just set the bit depth, drop it in each hole, and rotate clockwise around the hole so the bearing follows the side of the hole. Again, it is extra work, but it doesn't take too long and will add extra life in my experience.

KregRep

In reading the comments about melamine I agree with them.  Something that I might add however is that in my area there are two grades of melamine one of which is a low grade product that is almost worthless for your purpose.  It is similiar to a painted surface that is soft, thin and brittle.  The other is a industrial grade and is what I use when I have to resort to the melamine for building cabinets.  The difference is how the melamine coating is applied as well as the core used. 

I'm not a big fan of melamine even though I often, and by customer demand only, have used it for cabinet boxes where a white interiors is desired.  Because of it being brittle and having the chipping tendacy is my main objection to it's use.  

As a suggestion only, If I was going to build a project that you are planning I would use a good piece of plywood and laminated a cabinet counter top laminate to the surface.   It would outlast a melamine surface many times over. 

Another thought would be to go to a home center and purchase a prefab counter top.  The advantage being durability, as the laminate is much tougher than melamine surface even though it will most likely be bonded to  a high density particle board.  I'm sure you can also find used counter tops in your area as well.

If there is any holes that you need that will allow you to use a threaded bolt in liew of a through bolt, remember there are threaded inserts that allow you to use a threaded bolt or screw many time without damage to the table. The are available in a variety of screw sizes available at most woodworking supplies and are not too expensive.

Your project sound like it could be interesting and rewarding to use.   

Something you may want to consider is to use a small round over bit in your router to ease the edges of each hole slightly.

Wow, Ken. I really appreciate the detailed advice. I like James Bross' clamp table workbench and was hoping to build something similar, though I'm an absolute noob. I also like the Festool MFT--though not the price--and want my table to have the Kreg clamp precision along with the Festool clamp versatility. You've given me a lot to chew on. Thanks again!

Ken Darga said:

Bryan,

The malamine is a smooth laminate sheet material, bonded to MDF or particle board.

The cut edges can still break away.

The malamine provides a smooth surface, that doesn't need further treatment.

  A furniture paste wax can be applied to the malamine work surface, 

so as to reduce friction and keep the glue from sticking.



Bryan Walden said:

Ah, so MDF is less likely to crumble than melamine?


It's very humbling, Jay, to read everybody's helpful comments and realize just how little I know and how much I have to learn! But thanks for your insights--the prefab countertop sounds like a fantastic idea, especially for a newbie like me. I assume it'd be nice and square and fantastically flat. Would the key be to find one roughly the size I want and plan the rest of the workbench around that?

As for the dog holes, I did have an idea to glue PVC into them to make them more durable. But the threaded inserts sound very interesting and way tougher.

Thanks again, Jay!


Jay Boutwell said:

In reading the comments about melamine I agree with them.  Something that I might add however is that in my area there are two grades of melamine one of which is a low grade product that is almost worthless for your purpose.  It is similiar to a painted surface that is soft, thin and brittle.  The other is a industrial grade and is what I use when I have to resort to the melamine for building cabinets.  The difference is how the melamine coating is applied as well as the core used. 

I'm not a big fan of melamine even though I often, and by customer demand only, have used it for cabinet boxes where a white interiors is desired.  Because of it being brittle and having the chipping tendacy is my main objection to it's use.  

As a suggestion only, If I was going to build a project that you are planning I would use a good piece of plywood and laminated a cabinet counter top laminate to the surface.   It would outlast a melamine surface many times over. 

Another thought would be to go to a home center and purchase a prefab counter top.  The advantage being durability, as the laminate is much tougher than melamine surface even though it will most likely be bonded to  a high density particle board.  I'm sure you can also find used counter tops in your area as well.

If there is any holes that you need that will allow you to use a threaded bolt in liew of a through bolt, remember there are threaded inserts that allow you to use a threaded bolt or screw many time without damage to the table. The are available in a variety of screw sizes available at most woodworking supplies and are not too expensive.

Your project sound like it could be interesting and rewarding to use.   

Oooh, very cool idea. Thanks for that! I'll add that to my list of fine-tunings.

KregRep said:

I know this sounds like a lot of extra work, but in either case I'd consider putting a slight chamfer (bevel) around each hole--3/16"-1/8". I've always done this with round dog holes, especially in MDF. This will get rid of the sharp edge that would chip. It's also nice when you inevitably run your finger/hand over the holes as you're working: less pinching. You can use a bearing-guided chamfer bit.

Just set the bit depth, drop it in each hole, and rotate clockwise around the hole so the bearing follows the side of the hole. Again, it is extra work, but it doesn't take too long and will add extra life in my experience.

KregRep

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