How Easy Is MDF To Carve

MDF is an unusual but good choice for woodcarvers as it is very easy to carve. Due to MDF having no knots or rings it is a great choice for a wide variety of uses including carving. Besides its strength, MDF is also inexpensive thus it’s great for beginner woodcarvers.

MDF is very easy to carve which is owed to its low density. Its soft surface allows easy carving through manual and power tools. Other types of woods can be too hard which makes carving difficult. for this reason, MDF is a good choice for carving.

We will tell you the best ways to carve with MDF using both automatic and manual tools, how you can start with MDF if you are a beginner woodcarver, and how to cut MDF by getting the right tool. Read on to discover why MDF is great for carving.

How Easy Is MDF Wood To Carve

MDF is a very easy wood to use for woodcarving. Using a Dremel especially makes it very easy to carve MDF as with most wood types. However, let’s discuss the ease of woodcarving on MDF using hand tools.

As stated, many woodcarving enthusiasts prefer to do their woodcarving using MDF owing to its ease and versatility. you can use a wide variety of hand tools and make great carvings very easily due to MDF’s softness.

One of the best advantages of using MDF is you can work on carving small details much more easily as compared to other wood types as you don’t have to worry about going “against the grain”.  

You don’t have to worry about carving according to the grain with MDF, therefore, you can work on any area of the wood without issue and this means that for beginners especially MDF is the best choice to start.

Can you carve MDF with a Dremel

You already know that MDF is a great choice for beginner woodcarvers, however, MDF is a very versatile wood and it has the right softness. Meaning you can use a Dremel for carving that belongs in the advanced woodcarver’s repertoire.

Dremels for woodcarving have a short learning curve. First, you should be aware of the operating and safety procedures. Now you can focus on learning about the different Dremel attachments available to you.

You can use the smaller attachments to add tiny details to your MDF carving or you can use the bigger bits for larger wood carving projects. Therefore, using a Dremel for any carving project is definitely a great choice if you are serious about woodcarving.

What Knife Should You Use To Cut MDF Wood

Cutting MDF is not easy and requires a tool that is sharp and precise. Using a utility knife is more or less fine for cutting MDF, however, if you want to be precise, it is best to mark with a carving knife and then cut it with a saw.

You can use a utility knife to cut smaller pieces of MDF. For thicker and bigger pieces of MDF it is recommended to use a saw. This is due to MDF dulling knives when it is cut.

Tips For Carving MDF For a Beginner

In this section, we will discuss a few tips about carving MDF if you are relatively new to carving

Safety first:

When working with wood always remember to wear protective eyewear and a mask to avoid any injury. MDF sawdust is actually very harmful to the lungs if inhaled and thus protecting your eyes and mouth is essential to save yourself from the risks involved.

When working with MDF and especially cutting MDF, make sure you are in a properly ventilated area and wear a specific dust mask that has extra protection as any dust mask will not be enough and won’t filter the superfine particles of MDF.

Next is to invest in a protective glove and thumb guard. The glove is made of a thick material that protects you from cutting yourself while using a carving knife. The thumb guard also protects your thumb when doing certain cuts which would expose the thumb.

Now you know to use proper eye protection and wear a mask while working with MDF to protect yourself from dust particles and to protect yourself from cuts you should use a glove and thumb guard.

Start with smaller carving knives:

For beginners who are just starting out with woodcarving, a smaller carving knife is a good tool to start hand carving. The small blade is much easier to manage and once you start carving you will slowly get the hang of it and then move up to other tools.

Know your tools:

For carving, you have a wide selection of carving knives and gouges to choose from. To start you need a carving knife with a few gouges, and a sharpening tool. It goes without saying that safety equipment such as eye protection, masks, glove, and a thumb guard is a must.

Once you have the basic tools you can start woodcarving. As you slowly get better you should familiarize yourself and experiment with different gouges and carving knives to better your carving skills and get better with the tools.

Knowing the best way to use your tools along will make you a better woodcarver and allow you to create carvings using more advanced techniques.

Change the direction of your cuts:

Changing direction while cutting into the wood really helps to keep the wood in the right condition. Cutting in just one direction means you cut into all the wood fibers which can damage the wood durability.

Don’t go too deep:

MDF is good wood for carving, however, it is recommended to not go too deep(meaning not more than halfway through the wood thickness) as it can tend to weaken which might cause it to snap.

When using a Dremel avoid the machine chamfering:

While using a Dremel to carve lines into the MDF, make sure not to go too deep while also making fast passes in the MDF to avoid chamfering. You have to do it a few times to master the technique so keep practicing until you get the hang of it.

Chamfering is when the Dremel bit gets stuck in the wood and causes the Dremel to jump back. This can cause major injury if you are not aware. So make sure to you know how to use a Dremel properly for wood carving.

Master these 4 cuts (sweeping, stop, v cut, pyramid cut):

In order for you to become a decent woodcarver you should focus on mastering the most common cuts used in woodcarving. These are the sweeping cut, stop cut, V-cut and the pyramid cut. Watch the video below and then read on to find out how to do these cuts: –


For a V cut you should cut into the wood with a 45-degree angle and then cut from above from the opposite side to form a V. This cut is a great method to shape up the wood in the specific figure you require. This is

Sweep cut

Start by pushing your knife in and then bring it up and out in a sweeping motion. You can use this to peel the wood slowly in small areas in pieces.

Stop cut

Start by cutting straight in the wood and then stop. Now you can cut by bringing the knife from below towards the cut you made before. Through this you can make small or big controlled cuts and peel off the wood you require accurately.


First draw a triangle as shown in the video. Then hold the knife like a pencil and poke it in the marked area on the wood. Follow the marking and poke all the areas until the wood piece comes out. Now you know how to do a pyramid cut.

Practice and practice:

As with anything new make sure to give yourself time to learn the basics. First thing is to just start (once you make your own mistakes you will learn). Next is to keep practicing the basics until you get comfortable with the motions.

First start with small blocks of wood to practice using the carving tools. Once you start using the carving knife and Dremel you will familiarize yourself with how they work and how you can carve the required shape in the wood. Now you can start with a proper carving.

Finally, remember to enjoy the whole process of woodcarving including the learning. The more you do woodcarving, the better you will get at it. Remember to experiment with both power tools and manual tools. You will find out which one you like more.

Final thoughts

Now you should be well aware about all the advantages of using MDF for woodcarving and how to carve MDF using both manual and power tools. Make sure to focus on mastering the tips shared with you in order to get the most out of your MDF carvings.

While using any tools, be aware of all safety and operating procedures to minimize the outcome of injury while also having a perfect end piece that you can be proud of. Get to work on your MDF woodcarving using the information in this article.

Martin Swizz

Hi! This is Martin, I like to research, experiment, and learn new things related to wood carving and other kinds of woodworking.

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