Our project is now full stop. Apparently there is no way to purchase more 3/4 x 12 x 96 inch MDF sheets. This is not a good situation to be in. The supplier (Central Home Improvement) calls the MDF I purchased ’11/16′ but it measures a true 3/4 inch thick. There is some confusion as to the material they sell in their warehouse. A customer can be charged for the item as it appears on the receipt, 12″ x 8′ x MDF SHELVING 3/4″ (MDFA128) but what is out in the warehouse can be three different size thicknesses, ranging from 13/16, 3/4 and 5/8. In my initial order the worker loaded up about 20 sheets which was mostly 3/4 inch but there were 4 sheets of 13/16 inch. It was only after I cut a 13/16 that I realized it was too thick for the wainscot I was installing. It took a significant amount of effort of sanding to get to to come level. From that experience I put aside the 13/16 and worked with just the 3/4 inch thick material.
Something else I discovered which you should keep in mind is that sometimes the MDF sheets come wider than 12 inches and sometimes it comes longer than 96 inches. Being longer was not an issue for me but the random widths was an issue and here is why. I need a 5-3/4 inch wide piece because the chair rail molding I am using is 1-3/4 inch wide and I want a 4 inch wide board to show for all the wainscot panels. 4 inch wide below the chair rail, 4 inch wide above the baseboard (after the baseboard is installed) and 4 inch wide vertical sections that separate the panels.When I cut a few initial boards that were “12×96”, I need to get 5-3/4 inch for the top horizontal piece of wainscoting and the remaining board will be used for the bottom horizontal piece. That went ok. When it came time to cut some more I scaled the tablesaw to cut off the bottom piece assuming the remaining was 5-3/4 inch. Not so! Apparently the first lot of boards I cut were wider than 12 inches so when I cut the second lot…on 12 inch wide boards…I ended up with my top pieces being 5-5/8 inch. You might say its only 1/8 difference but think of it this way…I am midway through installing the top pieces on a wall. Yes, I could drop the material to meet what is currently on the wall but that leaves the very top (behind the chair rail) 1/8 inch lower and when it comes time to put on that top cap I will have to shim it 1/8 inch. A real pain. Lesson learned, I should of measured and cut the 5-3/4 boards first, or at the very least, measured the width of all these MDF sheets as I handled them.
So the store tells me that the earthquake in Chile a while back has knocked out the supply chain for MDF. Chile? I never would of guessed that. I’ve been told that the way in which the store is supplied the material, its random at best. They may order one item but get random thicknesses. Not the best service they are getting from their dealer. However the store should not put 5/8 or 13/16 thick MDF in a warehouse slot for 3/4 inch thick MDF and try to sell it as such. Just because most of this material is sold to consumers for general shelving projects doesn’t excuse the fact that at some point, what a customer expects and pays for and what a customer receives, will impact the opinion of the customer service received by the store.