MDF as stringer??

Hey Guys

Anyone used MDF as a stringer??

Wouldn't have considered it before.

Reason I ask is when I first started using EPS, I got some old packing foam and practiced my techniques.

Hot wiring, glue ups etc.

I glue in some 3mm MDF to practice and iron out any bad techniques.

I still have that practice blank up in the rafters of my garage and thought I would practice shaping it as I haven't shaped anything for over a year.

Lookin at it now half shape I thought that the MDF might be a good material to use.

It shaped easily,  it held the blank nicely while shaping and didn't look to bad either and as far as I understand, stringer dont add too much strength anyway so it wouldn't need to be bullet proof.

Anyone had experience with it

Pros and cons



If you've got a blank with one, why not try it? Maybe put a strong glass job??

No its only shit packing foam

Plus it was just a test for practising technique

I cut the foam down the middle with a hand saw so it not real straight and there are big chunks out of it also.

Plus its only about 5'10" x 18 or so.

Way to small for my big arse and dont want to waste resin and glass



i'm pretty sure Twinzerfan has done this and like the results. maybe shoot him a PM if he doesn't respond here

Hey MDS,


I have'nt, but I'd say it'd be a bad choice for a couple of reasons - No fibre - no spring, and water anywhere near it - will go to mush. Deadweight floppy mush...



Hey JD

Your probably right.

Didn't think of those reasons.

Probably why its not a common practice.

Oh well no big deal



STOP...DON't even think of it....


It's not sturcturally strong enough and even worst...if it gets wet it will swell immediately - and start turning into something resembling porridge. Use hardwood or ply. This stuff is great for furniture/bodging etc where it's NEVER exposed to moisture - for anything else it's a nightmare.

You can now purchase waterproof MDF but I still wouldn't consider even that.




I have never built a surfboard, so these comments should be kept in mind. I've read that if it is possible to dispense of stringers it is preferred, simply due to weight considerations. I wonder if on higher priced boards one could construct a blank with a tape of carbon fiber connecting the two halves, serving as the stringer, shape, and then add 1-2" carbon fiber tape on the top and bottom directly over the stringer.  You've then contructed a stiff carbon fiber I-beam.  It would definately minimize flex, and I don't know how bad that would be, but in terms of strength and weight savings, you would have the best of both worlds.




You points are very valid. I haved made stringers in Cedar, Bass, Balsa and tried various PLY (Marine Grade, Basswood, Bending Popular).

I use mostly Basswood for stringers because it’s easy on the handplaners while doing the final finish. Some of the Plys have interesting proporties  as well I just don’t like to work with it.

Having said that I have use Carbon Fiber Tape mixed with Kevlar as a stringer for a EPS Stringerless Quad Fish that is 2 1/2 years old and in perfect condition.

You do save weight and it does have the strength you need. However it does come with addition cost. It may me worth it in the time it takes to assemble a blank.Plus shaping without a stringer is easier.So process wise cost in use may be lower in the end. Time is money if anybody has forgotten?


Kind regards,

surfding AKA Michael








Basswood is that really light coloured timber?  It’s not a veneer (inapropriate wording?) like Ply? sheets stuck together?


Ply would be stronger?..if there’s no knots in the timber… but Basswood would flex more?



Hey Guys

I have had some good results with pine.

Selected planks that were knot free and had them milled down to 9mm (SUP and Longboards)

Main reason I went with the pine is thats all I could find long enough.

Cant get basswood in Australia (well I couldn't) cedar was very pricey and ply wasn't long enough.

Very limited were I live



--> basswood craft & carving wood in stock

The Tree: Tilia Americana
Basswood is more commonly referred to as "American Whitewood" in the lumber industry, it is often confused with other whitewoods like poplar and various components of the tulipwood family. In the landscaping industry, the sales staff would refer to it as an American linden, or lime tree. It grows most commonly in the eastern, central part of North America, particularly around the great lakes. There are approximately 30 different types of basswood in this part of the world.

The young basswood trees have smooth gray bark, that darkens and becomes deeply ridged as it ages. It is a fast growing tree that loves to grow along the sides of rivers. Trees can easily grow 80' tall and more than 2' in diameter.

The bark was boiled to make a treatment for burns.

Basswood is most notable as a wood for carving, particularly because it is commonly found in thicknesses of up to 4". Chip carvers use it extensively in basswood boxes, trays, and clock faces.

A lot of my folk art customers are equally excited about basswood as a craft & hobby wood for their painted projects. It is frequently used for food containers because it imparts no odor or taste onto the finished product. Basswood has been used for musical instruments, matches and blind slats.

--> Basswood craft wood   

In our area, it is chipped extensively for pulpwood, in fact we have to fight with the paper makers to get enough logs to use for all our paint grade trim and planks. Often, basswood is used for box making, and then covered with exotic veneers. Its dimensional stability shines in these applications.

Wood Description:
Basswood is not a very exciting wood species to look at, with little grain and mostly pure white in colour, but it's wonderful carving characteristics put it ahead of the class as a carving wood for use in intricate projects.

It is a very soft wood, similar to eastern white pine, but without the strong grain structure. It does not bend well, but does dry easily with little downgrade. It does shrink alot on drying though, but remains stable afterwards . Heart stock can show brown streaks and/or thin black seam lines, both of which paint over easily if used in paint grade projects. The wood has no taste, and a slight sweet grass smell when cutting.

Weight: approximately 26 lbs/cu.ft.

Basswood is a great wood to paint. It has very little sap and/or pith pockets that are common in pine, so it is not necessary to seal with oil based primers. It finishes easily with latex paints. Basswood can be stained but shows little grain pattern. The stain can blotch, so try a test piece first to see if you can get your desired results. A wood conditioner used in advance of the stain will encourage more uniform absorption. It takes a polyurethane finish beautifully.

Basswood is extremely easy to cut with both hand and machine tools. It carves very easily both with and across the grain. It does tend to burn, if your router bits are dull or you move too slowly, but the marks do sand off fairly easily.

It is "kind" to all cutting edges and can be nailed without predrilling. It has enough structural integrity to allow for intricate designs and is very dimensionally stable so it holds its shape. It turns easily, but you must work your way down the sand paper grit line to effectively eliminate the scratches. It glues well.

 Like I I said it's easier on the tools.

There is a PLY that is layered basswood I have used however I prefere the solid basswood. In places were you have limited supplies of wood I would just just some kind of PLY and make sure I keep my tools sharp.

Kind regards,



To summarize MDF is a bad choice for a stringer material because it is weak, and heavy.  Its amazing how much waste wood goes in to producing a good stringer.  First one needs the best grades of lumber, and very processed- not the best use of a critical resource. While MDF is made from wood scraps, and is a start toward better resource utilization, but it is not good for surfboard stringers.

I have been totally impressed with what Chuck Burns has come up with for stringers; although I probably should not have said anything, but it is proving to be better all around.  Strength, weight, and flex all have been improved, and he has been doing them for a while now on his personal boards.  He says: “They (boards) have maintained their snap without snapping.”  We will have to see how the surfing community reacts and responds in the not too distant future.  I know “Graphite Masters,” Hank Johns has something to do with it.  I hope they can follow through.  Probably you should contact Justin at GM if your interested.