Concerns securing waste board into table top

I’ve seen a bunch of really cool waste board designs, but they all rely on securing the waste board into the table top directly (no inserts etc). With MDF being a great flat board and relatively inexpensive, I think using this as a table top and waste board is ideal. The down side is that MDF doesn’t like having screws repeatedly installed and removed. It can cause local bubbles causing things to not be sturdy or flat, and potentially large regions that get pulled out.
My question is in two parts:

  1. What is your experience with MDF as a table top and using screws to secure your waste board and t-tracks. Is there a best practice here or specific hardware that helps with this as a wear item?
  2. What alternative materials or techniques are good for securing a waste board to the table top?


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I’m using RedDogWoodCraft’s Spoilboard system.

My table top is baltic birch. Screwed onto that is a piece of 3/4" mdf. The t-track and mdf slabs, with the inserts and dog-holes are screwed directly onto the sheet of mdf. This system uses another layer of sacrificial slabs with through-holes to allow access to the inserts and dog-holes underneath. With this system I don’t foresee ever having to remove the woodscrews until I decide to switch to an aluminum table.

I am using blue painters tape and CA glue. I’ve had great success with this approach with no movement of the boards. For the full picture, I use MDF and spaced T-Tracks.

I don’t think MDF is stiff enough for a table top. It’s flat and isn’t hard on bits so it makes a great source for a spoil board. But that’s the point, use something cheaper for the stuff that’s going to get damaged. But for the actual table I wouldn’t try to save a few bucks. Baltic birch or like I used, Advantech subfloor would be a better choice in my opinion. As for securing it MDF likes to pull apart when wood screws are driven into it. If you’re going to use it I would just drill holes and put nuts and washers on the bottom with flat headed machine screws countersunk into the waist board.

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I second Alex’s comments: MDF is junk for holding screws. I used flat head bolts (these things are great!) into threaded inserts to make it repeatable - they work really well. Plus you can use them to attach legs to tables and stuff :slight_smile:

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