Table Surface Material - Ply vs MDF

I’m finally getting around to building my table and I wanted to get input/opinions on what would be the better material to use for the top surface and spoil board, Ply vs MDF. Thoughts?

Plywood (especially cheap stuff) can have trouble with internal voids and splinters depending on the depth. So if you are going to surface it, you might want mdf.

Mdf dust is particularly nasty though. Not great to breathe and it gets everywhere.

But either will do the job.

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What are people’s thoughts on non spoil board material? How thick would people recommend. I just got a good deal on a piece of 3/4" birtch ply. Is that overkill?

Good point. I’m leaning towards BC Ply right now. We’ll see if anyone else has any ideas.

In general, plywood is stronger than MDF for a given thickness, because it preserves the wood’s fibres. It is also generally lighter. This makes it a better choice for many things where strength versus weight is important.

MDF is more dimensionally consistent, making it somewhat more versatile for odd shapes. It also is less flexible, so it does not resonate as easily. This makes it better for applications where consistency is more important. I believe MDF is superior as a surface material. Most of the commercial CNC wood routers that I’ve seen use MDF as a surface material.

MDF is an adequate material for almost all aspects of building the MPCNC. I used MDF for the platform as well as the spoilboard, but ideally, I’d have liked to use plywood for the platform in order to reduce the overall weight of the machine. I would still have used MDF for the spoilboard though, because of the consistency of its makeup.


That was my thinking as well, but I’m now worried that 3/4" is a bit overkill especially since I’m building mine as a table with a 3/4" top then setting the mpcnc on another sheet of 3/4" ply and screwing that to the table.