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I have a number of Kreg workbenches that I have made with help of their Pocket-hole jig. The workbench tops are made by layering MDF atop a 2x4 frame. I am wondering whether multiple layers of MDF would be effective in holding a bench dog tightly, or would it begin to tear out due to the powdery qualities of MDF?

  • Not sure, but this is a place where I'd consider alternative approaches like inlaying t-track and affixing your stops/jigs to that ... – keshlam Mar 20 '15 at 18:41
  • T Track is a great idea. I think even affixing some metal plate with pre-drill/sized holes would go a long way towards keeping it secure. MDF has the mass/smoothness, aluminum (or best yet steel) likes to resist the impact. – BrownRedHawk Mar 20 '15 at 19:05
  • Wouldn't the t-track or metal plate just rip out as well? – Peter Grace Mar 20 '15 at 21:10
  • Between multiple screws and the mortise holding it, t-track is pretty good at distributing forces over a large area. (I have a big ol' bench that came with the house, really larger than needed; I'm dithering between just replacing the top or replacing the whole thing with one better designed and sized.) – keshlam Mar 21 '15 at 23:45
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My bench top is made of 2 half inch pieces of MDF that I laminated together with wood glue and screws. I drilled about 8 holes for my brass bench dogs. I have used those bench dogs for over a year now, when using my hand planes and router, etc. I have never noticed any kind of deformation or loosening of the hold due to the qualities of the MDF.

Also, MDF is cheap, and MDF bench tops are such a great idea in the first place because they can be easily replaced. I wouldn't worry about it if I were you.

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  • You know, that is a great point that I did not really consider -- if the hole rips out, the tabletop is really cheap to replace! – Peter Grace Mar 21 '15 at 14:06
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    I second the answer by Modulus. I have a benchtop made of two 3/4" sheets of MDF with dog holes. It is still working fine about 7 years later. The dog holes are a bit worn at the edges but they still serve the purpose fine. Most of the abuse I give the dog holes is actually using a holdfast in them which exerts a lot of side force at the very edge of the dog holes. – glw Mar 21 '15 at 20:07
  • I would also agree with benefits of MDF being sacrificial. You could also take a look at Peter Parffit's Parf guide system to help you create your own MFT style top. It is an expensive initial purchase but once you have it you can make as many worktops as you need. axminster.co.uk/ujk-technology-parf-guide-system-102278 – Stuart Dec 20 '18 at 20:08
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There are several workbench designs that include MDF or plywood tops which are thoroughly perforated with dog holes, almost like big sheets of pegboard.

Festool's MFT has a sacrificial MDF top, and the original Paulk Workbench design has a plywood top similarly perforated with dog holes.

If you're simply using bench dogs for clamping, any material should hold up well enough. However, I could see the holes wearing down more quickly if you were to use holdfasts.

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  • If you watch some of Ron Paulk's videos when he is making his workbenches he does mention that you could use MDF. He just prefers plywood. – Stuart Dec 20 '18 at 20:10

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