The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #66964   Message #1115798
Posted By: JohnInKansas
14-Feb-04 - 09:11 AM
Thread Name: What are Wobble Boards made of?
Subject: RE: What are Wobble Boards made of?
You should note that in the US Masonite comes in two varieties.

The common variety, used mostly for wall surfacing, is somewhat susceptible to cracking when something hard hits it, and has a "nominally smooth" surface on one side. It's used mainly where you need something relatively "cheap" to fill a space in a building wall surface. Color is usually a "dark tan."

The "tempered masonite" is much "harder" and has a finished surface on the face side that's almost what you'd call "slick." It's much denser and doesn't crack nearly as easily. It's usually a significantly darker "brown" in color. Although it's not really a recommended use, the tempered board is sufficiently resistant to scuffing to be used for something like a counter top or other work surface, especially for one used on an occasional basis and not subjected to too much "heavy" stuff. I've seen the tempered stuff used bare as a "temporary" patch to cover up a rough spot in flooring, in relatively high traffic areas. It starts to look a little "shabby" fairly quickly, but remains "servicable" for surprisingly long if you don't care too much about appearance.

The majority of "masonite" stocked and sold is as "pegboard," and has a rectangular grid of rows of holes on 1 inch centers in rows 1 inch apart. It's intended for use as a "storage board," and there are quite a number of "hooks" you can stick in the holes to make a place to hang stuff. The untempered board will usually be nominally 1/4 inch thick and will have holes about 1/4 inch in diameter. Pegboard made from "tempered masonite" will normally be about 5/32 inch thick, and the holes will be more like 5/32 inch in diameter. (The "hooks" are NOT interchangeable between the two kinds.)

The pegboard usage is so common that you may have difficulty locating sheets without the holes at smaller shops, but any larger lumber supply place should have it, and will quite likely have "ends" in 2 foot by 4 foot, 4' x 4', and possibly other sizes.

Either of these materials, but especially the "tempered" variety, is extremely "abrasive" to cutting tools, so carbide edged tools are strongly recommended for any extensive use with them. For the amount of cutting you'd do on this project, "ordinary" cutting tools will do the job, but by the time you run a router around a 2-foot diameter circle you can probably throw that bit away if it's not carbide edged. (And resin build-up on the tool edges can be a real problem with this stuff, especially with high-speed cutters.)

The material is essentially the same stuff as what's called "underlayment," but underlayment is mostly applied to stuff for flooring use, and is usually 5/8 inch or thicker and doesn't have as smooth a surface. A standard 4'x8' sheet of floor underlayment is also likely to be more than 90 pounds per sheet as it's quite dense. Something more like typical masonite may sometimes appear as "counter top underlayment."

Since stuff of this sort is sold under a variety of trade names, many ® trademarks, you may find something suitable as masonite, pressed board, PrestBoard, hard board, particle board, or counter underlay(ment).

It's very hard to find "real" wood in large surface thin sheets. Most building supply outlets here don't stock plywood in less than nominal 5/16 thick, and that's usually a rather shabby grade intended for "wall filler." The only plywood you're likely to find thinner, and of better quality would be intended for "veneer" use, and would likely be much thinner than you want.

If you don't find it at the lumber yard, you might check with your local art supply outlet, since people do still paint on panel, and you might also find something like a "palette" board about the right size. (But note that most of the places that advert as "art supply" are really "craft supply" and odds may not be so good there.)