MDF Products – FAQ

We get a lot of questions about working with MDF in general and more specifically how to assemble and paint our MDF products, so decided to create a FAQ for easy reference for all our customers.

  • Do I need any special tools to assemble MDF buildings?
    • No, not really. Most people should have everything they need around the house. All you really need is: a sharp hobby knife, wood glue, sand paper, water, paper towel, and an old hobby brush. For some kits, a set of wood clamps can help ensure everything is fitted tightly and evenly, but this is not required.
  • Why are the parts all attached to a sheet of MDF (called a sprue or frame) and how do I remove them from it safely?
    • The parts are attached by small tabs to a frame (sheet of MDF) so that they are protected during shipping. If they were shipped lose they could arrive damaged as they would rattle around inside the packaging.
    • To remove them safely it is easiest to turn the sheet over (to look at the back – you can tell it is the back as there will be no etched details on it, and there will be some scorch marks from the smoke caused by the laser cutting through) and use a sharp knife where you can see the small tabs that hold the parts in place.
    • ATTENTION: Always use a sharp knife, and always cut on a protected surface (a cutting pad, board, or at least a few pieces of scrap cardboard so that you do not damage your hobby table).
    • Once the parts are removed from the sprue it is a good idea to use either the edge of your hobby knife or a piece of sand paper to clean up any extra material left from cutting the part off the sprue.
  • What kind of Glue should I use for MDF?
    • Any white glue or wood glue works well with MDF. We prefer to use LePage Express Quick Dry Glue as is offers a tacky bond right away and dries quickly (roughly 10 min) so that we can move through assembly quickly.
      Do NOT use CA (Crazy Glue type glue) as it tends to dry too quickly on the surface of the MDF and can separate later pulling the lop layer of MDF off.
  • How do prevent glue from squeezing out from between the parts that I glue together? How do I clean up the extra glue?
    • You should only use a thin layer of glue on all joints, however even when using very little glue, some will still squeeze out, this can not be helped. Which is one of the reasons it is best to use a water based wood glue.
    • Assuming you are using a water based wood glue, you can simply wet an old brush with water and wipe away any excess glue that comes out of the joints. Then wipe that glue off the brush onto paper towel, then rinse your brush well.
  • How can I fill the gaps / joints at the corners of buildings so they are less visible?
    • There are several easy methods for filling gaps, the simplest being to push more wood glue into the gaps, let it dry, then sand it smooth.
    • You can also use wood filler, or a simple craft glue stick (like you used in grade school). Simply rub either over the gaps, let them dry, and then sand smooth.
  • Should I prime my MDF buildings before painting them?
    • YES! MDF absorbs a lot of paint! Therefore it is a good idea to give it a few thin coats of primer before painting it. Always use several thin coats rather than one thick coat so that you do not get any paint runs and so that you do not fill any etched details on the MDF.
    • We prefer to use Rust-oleum Painter’s Touch 2x Ultra Cover primer, but really any cheap(ish) hardware store brand primer works well.
    • You can use much more expensive hobby brands of primer, but they do not perform any better than the cheaper brands when dealing with large flat surfaces and you end up paying a lot more!
  • How do you paint MDF buildings? What kind of paint is best?
    • The simple answer is, the same as any other model kit.
    • However, as mentioned above, MDF absorbs a lot of paint, sometimes even after a primer layer is applied, so it is more cost effective to use cheaper craft store paint for base colours on buildings. We tend to use the cheap Craft Smart brand from Micheal’s craft store here in Canada, but any brand works fine.
    • We then use our normal miniature paints for any fine detail work (we use Vallejo, but P3, GW, Scale 75, etc all work just fine as well).

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