How To Cut MDF

Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) is a hardboard that is commonly used in cabinets and other indoor building projects. You can even see it in use by many a landscape builder and is available from over two gardening companies that supply timber products.

The man-made substance is made by pressing together wood fibers suspended in a synthetic resin binder and comes in 4- or 5-by-8-foot sheets (same size as plywood) with thicknesses ranging from 3/8 to 1 inch.

MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) can be cut with any tool that cuts wood; however, the cutting tool should be chosen with the MDF’s unique qualities in mind. Besides this, there are certain safety precautions you need to make.

cutting mdf

For one, dust from MDF can be horrendous on the lungs when breathed in.

Luckily, in our guide, you can learn about the best way to cut MDF for finish and health. By the end, you’ll see you don’t need a master’s degree to cut medium density fiberboard (MDF) in a straight cut or even cutting MDF with circular saw. (Learn How To Cut Drywall)

MDF cutting processes are the same, and the tools differ.

How Do You Cut MDF Without Chipping?

MDF can be cut with a table saw or a circular saw. However, MDF dulls tool steel blades; therefore, you’ll need a carbide-tipped blade.

Also, to reduce chipping, place a 1′′ wide strip of masking tape along the cut line on the side of the sheet where the blade’s teeth emerge from the wood.

To prevent a thin sheet from breaking, use a fine-toothed blade such as a bandsaw since the thin wood is delicate.

Medium-density fiberboard, or MDF, is engineered wood that mixes wax, resin, and wood fibers.

Though MDF resembles plywood in appearance, the material is much denser, and medium density fiberboard has particular characteristics compared to other woods.

Here are the best ways to cut MDF board.

protection for cutting mdf

Wear Protection

Wear heavy-duty work gloves and a long-sleeved shirt before handling or cutting MDF. This will protect you against rough MDF edges and from your saw blade.

Avoid loose-sleeved garments to avoid getting trapped in the saw blade.

Put on a dust mask, and eye protection as MDF releases so much dust when cut. Wear a quality dust mask and all-around eye protection such as goggles rather than glasses to avoid getting dust in your eyes or throat. MDF dust is a recognized carcinogen, so you don’t want to breathe this dust in.

1# How to Make a Straight Cut

Connect a sturdy laminate blade to a circular saw to make straight cuts in your MDF. It would help if you had a circular saw or table saw that offers a cutting speed between 9,800 and 11,000 ft/s.

For the best cut possible, install a laminate blade with at least 60 teeth and a diameter of about 14.0 in. For additional strength, pick a table saw blade with a carbide tip. (Learn How To Cut Carpet)

Before installing the blade, make sure you unplug the device to prevent accidents.

Adjusting Saw Blade

  1. Set your blade depth slightly below your board. 
  2. Position your circular saw, so the blade is flush with the MDF board’s side. 
  3. Unlock your saw’s depth knob or lever and slowly lower the blade to your MDF plank. Retighten the depth knob or lever after adjusting the blade.
  4. To achieve proper cutting, place the blade so that the tip is between 1/8 and 1/4 below the MDF board.
  5. Place the MDF on a wide table or your table saw bench. Place each end on a separate working table or sawhorse.
  6. Overhang the MDF over the surface and secure it with heavy-duty clamps.

If you are using a table saw, you can adjust the saw as above, yet you’ll do this from underneath. You will also push the wood against the straight edge to keep your cut straight.

Mark Your Cut Line

  1. Unless your table saw has a straight edge set to the desired width, you’ll need to mark your cut line.
  2. Mark the area you want to cut through using woodworking tape and pencil. Check twice cut once if the motto is good advice to follow. Double-check the line’s length and alignment using a tape measure or level.
  3. If you mark the line on your medium density fiberboard using a pencil, make it thick enough to see through the dust and from a distance.

using circular saw

Cut Using Circular Saws

  1. Align the front of your circular saw with the specified line on your MDF board. Then, gently press the saw through the MDF piece with minimal pressure. Try to keep the saw steady and cut slowly in one fluid motion.
  2. If your saw jitters or kicks, switch it off and let it rest.

2# How To Make Curved Cuts

  1. Cutting medium density fiberboard with curved cuts is different than using a straight edge, yet not too challenging, so you don’t need a master’s degree, just the right tools and saw blades.
  2. Get a jigsaw with a bi-metal or carbide blade. You’ll need a narrow blade that offers lots of fine teeth.
  3. Before installing the blade, disconnect your device.

Secure MDF Board to Table and Mark

  1. Set your plank of medium-density fiberboard on a sturdy work table, and hang where you need to cut over the edge.
  2. Secure the board in place with large clamps to stop it from slipping as you cut.
  3. Mark the area you want to cut. Using a pencil, draw a line on the wood’s surface, showing where you intend to cut it. Use a compass or stencil to create more precise curves.

Cut Your Curved Medium Density Fiberboard

  1. Cut through the highlighted area using your jigsaw’s carbide blade.
  2. Place the jigsaw’s shoe at the beginning of the marked line on the cut area.
  3. Turn the saw on and push against the edge of the wood.

Can you cut MDF with a knife?

You can score MDF with a sharp utility knife, but to cut through it entirely, you’ll need something more powerful.

Maintain a metal edge parallel to the cutting line and lightly glide the utility knife blade over the line, repeating until the MDF is marked. A circular saw or jig saw should then be used to cut straight through the MDF along the line you made with your utility knife. (Learn How To Cut Vinyl Siding)

Is It Safe To Cut MDF?

Here’s a bit more on the way to cut MDF from the safety side. It can be from the safety of the woods and your own.

Straight Cuts

Rip cuts in MDF can be made with any circular saw or handheld cutting tool; however, the blade should be carbide-tipped because of the high glue concentration of the material.

More teeth on the blade reduce chipping but increase the dust produced. For cutting MDF, a table saw is used; however, it should include a vacuum removal system to prevent dust build-up from interfering with the motor and your breathing.

Curved Cuts

A jigsaw cuts MDF as readily as plywood, but the more teeth the blade has, the blade reduces chipping the material around the cut edges. So, a steel-cutting blade will keep the edges intact in a sensitive cut.

You can also use a handheld or rotary tool with a multi-purpose cutting blade to cut curves and cutting notches in MDF. This is a viable alternative when a plunge cut is required in already assembled MDF cabinets.

Holes

Use a drill fitted with a normal drill bit or a spade bit to make holes up to 1 1/2 inches in diameter in MDF, and holes up to 4 inches with a hole saw.

To make larger holes or non-circular holes, use your drill bit for the corners of the outline and cut around it with a jigsaw.

Use a handheld multipurpose or rotary tool fitted with a multi-purpose cutting blade, inserting the blade into the outline and cutting with the tool carefully around it.

Routing

Any bit on a conventional router that can rout wood can rout MDF, although carbide-tipped blades such as a carbide straight flute bit will last longer than steel ones.

You can also use a handheld multipurpose tool that has a routing accessory because when routing, MDF produces copious amounts of dust produced that can be harmful.

It’s smaller than a standard router, making it easier to handle and keep visual contact with your work. When routing, always move the carbide flute bit against the blade rotation, or it will spin out of control and destroy the edge. (Learn How To Cut Laminate Sheeting)

Secure your piece to your router table or work bench before you begin with your carbide straight flute bit to cut in your intricate patterns or edges.

How To Cut MDF (2)

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