Volume 46, Issue 4 - May 2007

From the Editor

Wood Fiber Woes

MDF Producers Sound Off about Shortage
I have added to my moulding and millwork knowledge, having recently returned from the 44th Annual Wood Moulding and Millwork Producers Association’s Winter meeting in San Destin, Fla. The meeting covered a myriad of topics—from standards and workman’s comp issues, to cryogenic freezing of tools and more. The most fascinating subject for me surrounded medium-density fiberboard (MDF).

I learned about a year ago that moulding manufacturers were facing a shortage of MDF. While the supply of MDF did increase, it looks like manufacturers who use MDF to make products are facing a supply issue again.

In the article, “Cutting it Thin,” on page 26, we address the MDF shortage, looking at what’s causing it, what MDF producers are doing to combat this problem, how long it will last and how it’s affecting MDF product manufacturing.

I found a couple of interesting points when researching the MDF subject: there are questions about quality and how a shortage would impact distributors and dealers. 

MDF producers have sought alternative wood resources to use for fiber, a key ingredient in making MDF that is scarce and part of the cause of the MDF shortage.

As producers look for alternatives, some MDF moulding manufacturers have commented that the MDF board isn’t good quality when alternatives are used for wood fiber. One MDF moulding manufacturer president said when he receives MDF made with alternative materials, it’s harder to mould.

Will Warberg, sales and marketing manager for Plum Creek MDF in Columbia Falls, Mont., responds to the issue of quality.

“Plum Creek’s MDF plant continues to be well-positioned for access to traditional sources of wood fiber,” he says. “However, there is ample high-quality fiber to be extracted from the waste stream. The challenge will be cleaning the material to remove contaminants including fasteners, dirt, coating materials and so-forth. The technology to achieve this is available and currently in use—particularly in Europe where wood fiber availability has been more of an issue.”

While quality MDF product is a concern, how a shortage would impact distributors is too.

The distributors who carry MDF who were contacted said they have not been impacted by a shortage. Their MDF products are arriving on time.

One MDF moulding manufacturer warns that if a shortage continues, distributors could see increased prices or extended lead times. He suggests that you partner up with a good, reliable supplier.

If you have any particular ways you’re dealing with the MDF supply-and-demand challenge, please email us. 


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