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Thread: covering wood with fabric question

  1. #1
    Super Member blahel's Avatar
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    covering wood with fabric question

    I have taken over the games room as my sewing room so lucky me. There is however a big elephant in the room, the pool table.
    My husband made me a table top for the pool table but the wood is MDF which is a manufactured wood.
    It is not a nice colour so first i thought of painting it but discarded that idea as pins would scratch it (we have previously painted and varnished MDF and that scratched easily)
    My next thought was that I would glue fabric to it. I have bought the fabric and have researched online and they all recommend Mod Podge.
    It is expensive and you have to do multiple coats so we were wondering if PVA wood glue watered down slightly would be a good substitute?
    Also they recommend painting the surface of the table once the glue has dried again they recommend mod Podge.
    Would you water down the wood glue and use that?
    I want a hard surface that is slippery so that i can slide my fabric on. At present the fabric is just laying on the table and it does not allow fabric to slide at all.
    Maybe acrylic varnish..would that provide the hard shiny surface I am looking for?
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  2. #2
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    Just a question, what are planning to use this surface for? If it will be a cutting table, won't it be covered with a cutting mat? Probably can't be an ironing surface or will need layers of fabric, etc.

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    i would follow the mod pod instructions and not substitute.

  4. #4
    Super Member peaceandjoy's Avatar
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    Depending on what you are planning to use the table for, I would look into either a vinyl or oilcloth cover. Both can be purchased at Joanns.

  5. #5
    Junior Member MsHeirloom's Avatar
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    The top of my cutting table is a hollow core door with vinyl flooring glued on. The flooring has a gridded pattern to it which makes it very convenient for squaring fabric and patterns. The edges of my tabletop are finished with varnished molding. I have used the cutting surface for over 25 years and it looks like new. I also use a rotary cutting mat on top. I couldn't be happier. I think you could do something similar with a vinyl flooring remnant.

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    What about 1/4" to 1/2" plywood attached to the Mdf. Then you could smooth and wet sand to a smooth finish then varnish or just seal it. Use a router to smooth the edges and round the corners ever so slightly.

  7. #7
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    If you plan on using pins that scratch the MDF wouldn't the pins go through the mod podge fabric and still scratch it? I'd cover it with a thin layer of foam and then a layer of slippery material.

  8. #8
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    I would buy tablecloth oil cloth (it's just plastic now) and staple it to the underside. I have a Mennonite store that sells it on 6 foot rolls in a bunch of colours and patterns.

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    I just did a paper bag floor in my new back porch and the poly that is used on it is tough and doesn't scratch very easily. I think if I were in your place I would mod podge the fabric down then cover it with 2 or 3 coats of the floor poly. I used water based so clean up was easy and it wasn't smelly.
    I have tried the oil cloth and I seemed to catch my pins in it and ended up tearing it to shreds. But it is worth a try.
    Lynda

  10. #10
    Super Member QuiltingVagabond's Avatar
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    I would not Mod Podge a work surface. In my experience that can get tacky in high humidity and could be damaged with the pinning. I agree the vinyl flooring or oilcloth (which could be replaced if needed) would be good options.
    QuiltingVagabond aka Kathy

  11. #11
    Z
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    Polyurethane, a water based finish that is used for gym floors, would give you the slippery finish that you want. You could apply it directly to the MDF if you wanted the MDF color. You could use diluted Elmer's school glue to fasten fabric to the sanded table top. If the fabric isn't where you want it, the school glue allows you to move it. Press the fabric THOROUGHLY before you start. Wrap the pressed fabric around a swim noodle, a cardboard roll from carpet, or a board so that you can unroll it after applying glue to a width of the table top. Smooth out the fabric before applying more glue. A brayer or rolling pin works well. Folding the fabric over the edges would give a finished look. After the glue dries thoroughly apply the polyurethane in several THIN layers according to direllctions on the can. My work table, cutting table, or table for everything I need to do was covered with fabric and polyurethane 17 years ago and is still going strong. There are a few scratches.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by MsHeirloom View Post
    The top of my cutting table is a hollow core door with vinyl flooring glued on. The flooring has a gridded pattern to it which makes it very convenient for squaring fabric and patterns. The edges of my tabletop are finished with varnished molding. I have used the cutting surface for over 25 years and it looks like new. I also use a rotary cutting mat on top. I couldn't be happier. I think you could do something similar with a vinyl flooring remnant.
    I have peel/stick squares on an area of my cutting table and it works for me. Using 12" squares is great for lining up edges and measuring. You can walk on them so the pins would not be a big issue, can replace one if it has a problem down the road. You could also put some wax on them if the fabric does not slide well.

  13. #13
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    Polyurethane is what I was trying to think of. My husband uses it often. He built our kitchen table and used polyurethane on the top. 3-4 coats and wet sanded in between. It's so slick I can easily move fabric across the top even though the wood has grooves in it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Z View Post
    Polyurethane, a water based finish that is used for gym floors, would give you the slippery finish that you want. You could apply it directly to the MDF if you wanted the MDF color. You could use diluted Elmer's school glue to fasten fabric to the sanded table top. If the fabric isn't where you want it, the school glue allows you to move it. Press the fabric THOROUGHLY before you start. Wrap the pressed fabric around a swim noodle, a cardboard roll from carpet, or a board so that you can unroll it after applying glue to a width of the table top. Smooth out the fabric before applying more glue. A brayer or rolling pin works well. Folding the fabric over the edges would give a finished look. After the glue dries thoroughly apply the polyurethane in several THIN layers according to direllctions on the can. My work table, cutting table, or table for everything I need to do was covered with fabric and polyurethane 17 years ago and is still going strong. There are a few scratches.

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    Think of all the time and money you are investing in this. It needs to be right, and right from the beginning, or you will be extremely frustrated.

    I would go to a cabinet maker and have him make a Formica top using as thin a piece as he would recommend. If you will be taking it off and on once in a while, it needs to be a little bit sturdy.

    You will be happier in the long run if you spend the money and do it right.
    Mavita - Square dancer and One Room School Teacher

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    Quote Originally Posted by MsHeirloom View Post
    The top of my cutting table is a hollow core door with vinyl flooring glued on. The flooring has a gridded pattern to it which makes it very convenient for squaring fabric and patterns. The edges of my tabletop are finished with varnished molding. I have used the cutting surface for over 25 years and it looks like new. I also use a rotary cutting mat on top. I couldn't be happier. I think you could do something similar with a vinyl flooring remnant.
    That sounds like a great solution. They vinyl stick on tiles are inexpensive and simple to apply. And you could just throw a cutting mat right on top. Of all the ideas, I think this one fits the bill.

  16. #16
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    I covered a pool table with a sheet of plywood, stained it then applied polyurethane. After a few years the whole thing was taken down and removed so I don't remember the details but it worked for well for cutting and pinning when I sewed. Anyway, I think polyurethane is the way to go.
    Sally

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    Quote Originally Posted by maviskw View Post
    Think of all the time and money you are investing in this. It needs to be right, and right from the beginning, or you will be extremely frustrated.

    I would go to a cabinet maker and have him make a Formica top using as thin a piece as he would recommend. If you will be taking it off and on once in a while, it needs to be a little bit sturdy.

    You will be happier in the long run if you spend the money and do it right.
    You took the words right out of my head! :-) A formica type surface is my choice for durability, appearance, and cleanability. I used a formica type surface for years. With the use of large islands, this should be readily available for an experienced cabinet maker to install. This is an investment which will have great paybacks while you use it, and IMHO should you decide to sell or cut into smaller sections. Mod pog becomes dated. Good Luck!

  18. #18
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    I'm not sure what you are using the table for, but my cutting surface is an old door which my husband covered with formica, and it works great. Of course most of it is covered with cutting mats since it's well, a cutting table!
    BJ

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    Quote Originally Posted by peaceandjoy View Post
    Depending on what you are planning to use the table for, I would look into either a vinyl or oilcloth cover. Both can be purchased at Joanns.
    Good advice

  20. #20
    Super Member blahel's Avatar
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    Thank you all for taking the time to reply to my question, all advice was greatly appreciated.
    The table will mainly be used as a table to sandwich quilts on and also used as a cutting table but I will use a mat under it. I will also use it as a general sewing table.
    I have already bought the material and my carpenter husband has made the top. My idea was the formica but husband insisted on the MDF..lol..who am i to argue when he spent all that time making it and it fits like a glove and i love it except for the colour!
    Vinyl would have been a good idea but as i have already bought the material i think I will do what z suggested as her advice confirmed what we had been thinking of doing and it sounds like it will be durable. Thanks Z!
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  21. #21
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    Why not get a formica veneer for the table? That would last forever. Maybe you could even order one in a custom size for your table.
    A quilt is like a good life. It's full of mistakes, but, in the end, it looks pretty good.

  22. #22
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    I'm not sure I would cover it in fabric. I have two tables that I made from plywood sheets and after sanding, I just painted them. I did a couple coats and then spray coated them with a clear coating. I used a spray because I wanted to do several very light coats to build it up. I have used them for years and have no problem. I now use one for my craft table and have a very old (30+ years) cutting mat that works great for the measuring lines when cutting out foamcore and balsa wood. The fabric area one I lightly sanded a few years ago and sprayed one more clear coat on it. And I use this area almost every day - no problems. No matter what you decide to do, you do not have to use mod podge or wood glue for that matter. Any white glue will work and I almost always water it down. This applies to a decoupaged area or when I am working on my fairy/gnome houses.

  23. #23
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    We repurposed a table by gluing plywood to top of table. It is untreated and I just put my cutting mat on top of it. The mat doesn't slide when I cut.
    Another Phyllis
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  24. #24
    Senior Member Katia's Avatar
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    My husband works with wood a lot. He makes rifle magazine loaders that get a lot of abuse. He found a finish that beats anything. It is called a Spar finish, and is made by Helmsman. We have used both the spray on and the liquid. The stuff is made to be used on the wood parts of boats, so it has to be tough. His demo loader has had thousands of rounds put through it and not a nick or scratch any where. He also waxes them with paste wax to protect the surface even more. One can would probably do what you need. And it runs between 8 and 10 bucks depending where you buy it.

  25. #25
    Super Member Chasing Hawk's Avatar
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    What about Formica? My cutting table is made of plywood covered with a sheet of Formica.
    The following is just an example of different colors.

    https://www.lowes.com/pl/Kitchen-cou...hen/4294735648
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