Chipping is a common problem when it comes to cutting Medium-Density Fiberboard (MDF). When this happens, it is difficult to repair and this makes the final product look unpleasant. Therefore, to cut cleanly, the choice of the tool and the skill matters a lot.
To cut MDF without chipping, you need to get sharp carbide tipped blades with a higher number of teeth, clean the table saw and install the blade, adjust it to match the size of the board, start the saw, and push the MDF board along the marked lines until the cut is completed.
Studies on chip morphology in MDF reveal that chipping is a condition that is caused by many factors. It concludes that there is a close relationship between chip formations, cutting conditions, and cutting forces.
That means, the tools used for cutting MDF and the speed as well would dictate the quality of the finished cut.
It is also important to understand that MDF is a versatile board that is useful in a variety of projects. From making cabinets, wardrobes, shelves, tables, and other indoor or outdoor projects, you should not that they are a bit different from plywood. MDF is thick, strong, and with melamine laminate that may chip when cutting if no proper cutting is put in place.
How to cut MDF wood without chipping it
When cutting MDF, it is either you are doing straight or curved cuts, and sometimes you are drilling holes for fitting works. Therefore, to make precise and clean cuts without any chipping, we will look at two options that are common in most woodworking projects – that is making straight and curved cuts.
Making straight cuts
This is the most common cut that every woodworker must do with any project. Whether it is making cabinets, drawers, decks, or any other project, straight cuts are inevitable.
The process of cutting MDF in a straight manner involves the following steps:
Step 1 – Setting up
Setting up means getting the right tools that will not cause chipping. In this case, you need to ensure you are using the right blades, whether for a router or a table saw. In this case, use a carbide-tipped blade, and the more teeth, the better.
Also, clean the working table to ensure that no dust would otherwise interfere with your work.
Step 2 – Mark some lines on the MDF board
This is an important step before you begin your cuts. You need to do the measurements and ensure that you are cutting right. Mark the points that you need to cut, and draw some lines along those points.
Step 3 – Clamp a guiding edge
On the working table, clamp a guiding edge, whether a piece of wood, a ruler, or anything straight and not too thick on top of the MDF board that you have pre-marked. Ensure that the marked lines are next to the edge of the guiding material so that the blade will pass through the marked line.
Step 4 – Cut the board
After clamping, and with the right router and blade attached, now run the router as you keep it in contact with the guiding edge while cutting the board. Don’t stop until the end of the board. You will realize that the cut is clean and free of chips.
Making curved cuts
Curved cuts are not as easy and common as straight cuts. With this, you need different tools and some skills. Some tools you can use include the circular saw or jigsaw. In our case, we are using the jigsaw.
Step 1 – Choose a bi-metal cutting blades jigsaw
The first step is to get a jigsaw that can work with different blades. Then get a bi-metal jigsaw blade that you can place inside the jigsaw’s blade clamping mechanism. This is to ensure that you are using the right blade to cut your MDF so as to avoid chipping.
Step 2 – Clamp your MDF piece
Place the MDF board such that it lies on a plank of wood on the working table. The area that you need to cut should hang over the edge of the plank of wood.
Step 3 – Mark the area to cut
Using a drafting compass or a large woodwork divider, mark the area that you want to cut. This is dependent on the type of project you want to do with the wood. You may want to cut to the end to make an MDF board, or to some point.
Step 4 – Cut the marked area
With the jigsaw, place the front of the shoe of the jigsaw at the part where you want to start your cutting. At this point, ensure that the blade is in line with the marked area. Now turn on the saw and use a slow but gentle motion as you cut through the board.
Basic MDF cutting techniques/methods
There are two techniques or methods when it comes to cutting MDF, that is a table saw and alternate methods. Both methods are useful when cutting MDF and are useful for any project that utilizes MDF boards.
The table saw method
This is the most basic method that every woodworker would apply when it comes to cutting MDF. So long as you have a table saw and the right blades, this is the most convenient and fastest method you can learn. Table saw method happen in these steps:
Step 1 – Install the blades
As we mentioned, not every blade is good for cutting MDF. This is because some blades may cause the MDF to chip hence compromising the results. And because of the high glue content of the MDF boards, the blades should always be carbide-tipped.
After installing the right blades on your table saw, now adjust the blade height such that it is higher than the height of the MDF, which is about 0.5 inches higher.
Step 2 – Clean the surface
After installing the right blades on the table saw, now you want to ensure that your working space is also clean. You can use a vacuum cleaner to ensure that all the dust or any other object that may scratch the MDF laminate.
Step 3 – Wear the safety gear
Safety in any woodworking project should be the number one priority. Ensure that you are wearing your safety gear so that the chips do not get into your eyes. In addition, wearing safety goggles for eye protection, you should also wear dust masks since cutting may generate some dust that may otherwise irritate if not protected.
Step 4 – Start cutting
Before you begin cutting, you need to start the saw. After that, push the MDF that you want o cut along the marked line until the end. Since you have used the right blade, you should expect a clean cut that is free of chippings.
Tips for perfect MDF Cuts
You need to understand the properties of the MDF before you begin to cut it. This is to ensure that you cut it the right way and avoid chipping it. Of course, MDF is dense and with high glue content. Therefore, some of the tips to help when cutting include the following:
- To make clean cuts, always use blades with more teeth, preferably 60-teeth or more. In addition to that, the blades should be carbide-tipped.
- Always ensure that the blades are ultra-sharp. This is to reduce chipping and cut cleanly through the MDF.
- When scoring, especially when making circular cuts, always use slow and gentle motion to avoid scratches or chips.
Key takeaways from the video:
- A circular saw can be used to make straight cuts through MDF.
- With a circular saw, you can increase or decrease the depth of the blade to suit the size of the board that you are cutting.
- When measuring, the edge to the blade length of the saw should be accounted for to ensure you cut accurately the size of the board that you want.
- Check the position of the blade before cutting.
- Push the saw gently and smoothly as it cuts through the board to the end.
What blade should you use to cut MDF
As we have mentioned before, the MDF board is dense and with high glue content. This gives it different properties that will make blades without carbide tips dull hence may end up chipping the wood. We also did mention that the best blade to cut MDF should have more teeth, 60+ as a good choice.
Therefore, we recommend LSHUZIYU Circular Saw Blade since it meets all the qualities needed for cutting MDF. This blade is versatile and is also good for cutting plywood, laminate, and veneer wood among other functions.
In a nutshell, cutting MDF is not always an easy task. You need extra vigilance to make precise, accurate, and clean cuts without any chipping. To achieve this, you need to observe the above tips and follow the steps that we have discussed depending on whether you are making straight or circular cuts.