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Current lead time for cut & edge orders is 3 - 4 working days

Cworkshop's How To

Cutting MDF

MDF is a great choice for DIY projects and home improvements on a budget. With a smooth, ready to paint surface, MDF finishes with a high-end look and feel which is attractive to the DIY buff. The problem is, MDF is often a bit tricky to cut. Here are our tips on how to cut and MDF panel properly.

Why is cutting MDF tricky?

Whilst you may be tempted to reach for your hack saw and trust your DIY skills to cut your MDF board, it can end up leaving your workspace, materials and patience worse off.

MDF (medium-density fibreboard) can crumble easily as it's made of hardwood and softwood shavings turned fibres, and, as a result, cutting the wood to your preferred size can be a messy process. You can kiss goodbye that dream making that straight precision edge with inadequate tools.

Safety first

Wear a dust-mask. As your saw blade cuts through MDF, the teeth shave off wood dust particles which may contain urea-formaldehyde (a known carcinogen) from the resin used to bind the plywood shavings. You don't want to breathe in the content of the wood dust, so wear appropriate safety gear. 

If you are worried about wood with urea-formaldehyde, you can find medium density fibreboard with low chemical emissions - perfect for bespoke furniture located in environmentally sensitive areas. 

Perfect for thinner MDF or shapes

Jigsaw

One way to cut MDF is to take a jigsaw to your board. Here are some tips for cutting your MDF, whatever the size.

Attach a suitable blade
Attaching a suitable blade with between 7-12 TPI (teeth-per-inch) will reduce tear off and fibres. A lower TPI range works well for rough cuts but be sure to increase the TPI for more precision. A jigsaw with 12 TPI is ideal for curved cuts through your sheet of MDF as the blade is narrow enough to be manipulated around corners by a steady hand and patience.
Score a cut line
Cutting a panel can also be helped by creating a clear pre-cut cut-line. Scoring a line of the surface of where you want to cut using a utility knife will improve your precision, even if it will never be perfect. A steady hand, good prep and the resolve to get the edge sanded will get you a long way.
Secure your material
It helps if you clamp your board to your work table. If you have a large size MDF board, you may struggle cutting down the middle without a sawhorse. If you are cutting a board size that is out of your reach, you will run into problems. Never cut MDF that is beyond your reach.

Remember: do not force your jigsaw blade through the board. High pressure on the blade will bend or snap the blade.

Perfect for odd shapes and slightly thicker MDF

Router

When using a router to cut bespoke edges, curves and shapes out of your MDF you'll still want to score a cut-line, have the right blade and secure your material sufficiently. Use a carbide flute bit for MDF cutting as this will be strong enough to get through the material. 

Even for the keenest DIYer, chances are you're not going to make the most use out of a router in the long term. If you are thinking of buying a router to cut your MDF to size, it can set you back a fair amount (not to mention the additional drill bits). 

You can save yourself some cash on a tool you may only use once, and avoid the stress of making a mistake by using our specialist services for cut-to-size MDF.

Perfect for thicker MDF

Circular saw

When cutting a straight edge for professional joinery, you may want to use a circular saw (depending on the size of your MDF board). All the tips for cutting MDF sheets mentioned above still stand when using a circular saw, particularly the necessity for a sawhorse.

Where the jigsaw is dependent on your steady hand to get a straight cut through the MDF sheet, a circular saw ensures straight cuts every time. Be careful if you opt for a circular saw to cut MDF as they tend to produce a lot of dust. Try to find a circular saw with a vacuum system to minimise this. 

Perfect for cutting long, straight MDF panels

Table saw

The beast of power tools - the table saw. A table saw offers a more precise cut, resulting in less splintering and chipping off the edges of your MDF. If you are cutting numerous sheets of MDF, a table saw is the tool you need as you can add a jig to your platform which allows you to get accurate and repeatable cuts of MDF panels every time.

Should you cut your own MDF material?

If you are an experienced woodworker, with all the necessary materials, sufficient time and a steady hand, you can try turning your hand to your MDF board. Many of these specialist equipment can be extremely costly, not to mention dangerous if used incorrectly or your attention wavers. 

You may as well spend the money you would on the necessary equipment paying for specialists to cut your MDF for you. 

Not only will you save time and effort, but using a professional cut-to-size service like ours, you can also ensure precision accuracy. We use industry-leading computer-controlled panel cutting technology and CNC machines to cut the MDF.

To make it even more convenient, we offer fast delivery for your MDF straight to your home!

Learn more about our MDF