Medium-density fiberboard is commonly called MDF by crafters, woodworkers and those in the construction industry. MDF is an inexpensive alternative to plywood; it is a dense, flat hardboard with no noticeable grain. MDF can be used in most craft projects in which wood would normally be used.
MDF can be used for a variety of crafts. Many MDF projects are used for home decoration, including frames, plaques, signs and words cut from the hardboard. MDF can also be used to make puzzles and toys. Most craft supply stores sell shapes pre-cut from MDF. These commonly include squares, circles, stars and hearts. Sometimes, more intricate designs such as cats or cars can be purchased pre-cut.
MDF can easily be cut for crafting with a scroll saw. Simply draw the design on the MDF with a pencil, chalk or washable marker and cut along the lines. Because of the glue used in the pressing process of MDF, it can be extremely hard on saw blades. In addition, a large amount of dust is created when MDF is cut, so a mask should be worn even for small jobs. A respirator is recommended for larger cutting jobs. MDF should always be cut outside or in a ventilated workshop.
Multiple pieces of MDF can be easily connected to build three-dimensional crafts. Regular wood glue is the easiest and fastest way to connect multiple pieces of MDF. However, MDF can be jointed, drilled or connected with screws, nails and dowels. Because MDF does not have a grain, it does not splinter like traditional plywood.
MDF is a porous surface and should be primed or gessoed before painting. Applying one to three coats of acrylic gesso will prevent the paint from soaking into the wood. The board can then be painted as you would paint any surface with acrylic paint. If you are using oil-based paint, an oil-based primer should be used. MDF also can be coated with stain, varnish or lacquer, depending on the desired finish.