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Question on cutting thin MDF

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Forum topic by Sandra posted 10-11-2012 11:47 AM 5487 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Sandra

6981 posts in 1536 days


10-11-2012 11:47 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I’m gaining confidence cutting 2×4s, plywood and thicker MDF. However for my next project, I’m building a shelf insert to store ink pads. (girly craft thing) with thin MDF and need some advice.

The MDF is going to be cut into 30” long strips. It’s about 1/8 ” thick and the long edges are going to be visible when the cupboard is open.

This is an example of what I need to do, but on a longer scale:

Any suggestions on how to make the longer cuts and partial cuts would be greatly appreciated.

The tools I have to choose from are – circular saw, jigsaw, palm router, table mounted router and SCMS.

Thanks

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.


9 replies so far

View huff's profile

huff

2828 posts in 2746 days


#1 posted 10-11-2012 01:18 PM

Sandra,

Which of your tools are you most comfortable working with?
Circular saw, jigsaw, palm router or your table mounted router could work for ripping your strips.

For the circular saw, jigsaw or palm router (palm router would have to work really hard to cut though), you would want to clamp a fence full length to both hold the MDF and to be able to run your saw or router along to make the cut.

Circular saw; would make the cut easily, but bigger and heavier to handle. It will also depend on the blade you have for your saw. You would not want anything too agressive since your stock is so thing.

Jigsaw; would work fine, but also depends on the blades you have available. Your jigsaw will be easier to handle, but a little harder to keep a straight line. Nothing with too coarse of a cut. Also, if your jigsaw has an adjustment for how aggresssively it cuts, you can turn it back a little. Your thin MDF will want to jump up and down while you’re trying to cut it if it’s not clamp down good and you try to make an aggressive cut.

Palm router; probably my last choice, simply because it will be working quite hard to make all the cuts. With a router (palm or table mounted) you will have a lot of dust. A lot more then with either of the saws.

If you do it with either router, just make sure you keep your router or your wood tight against the fence and don’t let it push away.

You will probably have to do a little sanding on the edges after the cuts, but 1/8” should sand easliy.

For your slots, I would use the Mitre saw and set up a stop for depth of cut. Stand your MDF on edge,but make sure you use a thicker backer board behind the MDF to keep it stable and keep your blade from blowing out the MDF while your cutting it. Your blade on your mitre saw should be about the same width as what you need for the 1/8” MDF to slide in.

And with all your cuts, make sure you wear a mask, as the dust is really nasty. Again, I would simple use the tool I’m most comfortable working with and 9 times out of 10, you will have good results.

Good luck.

-- John @ http://www.thehuffordfurnituregroup.com

View patron's profile

patron

13535 posts in 2802 days


#2 posted 10-11-2012 02:25 PM

take it over to your friends shop
the one where you cut plywood

rip the strips
(use a spacer under if the fence is to high)
crosscut to length

stack all the strips together and clamp (ends even)
and on edge
and with a backer on the miter gauge
crosscut them to half way up

if you can register them for spacing proceed
if not just keep them all marked for the top and bottom
(so you don’t mix them up)

before un-clamping
try a test piece
to be sure the slots are all OK

hope this helps

EDIT :

sorry sandra
to early here
thought you were sheila (scrollgirl)

need more coffee

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View DocSavage45's profile

DocSavage45

7698 posts in 2303 days


#3 posted 10-11-2012 04:10 PM

Sandra,

maybe a typo? 30’ or 30 ”? Would make a difference…LOL! Patron’s way would be faster and probably more precise. Don’t remember the hp of your circular saw, but you can mount a circular saw to a base to make a hybryd table saw. Need clamps and straight , solid wood to make a guide fence. Slow but doable if you do not have access to a table saw.

The same would be true about mounting a router to a piece of laminated mdf. In all these situations you have to stay in the moment and “measure three times and sneek up on it” ( Charles Neil). Don’t push yourself or the tool, and make sure to be safe and tools sharp.

probably a blog or plan here on LJ’s if you use search for making a saw table or router table.

Good luck!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

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DocSavage45

7698 posts in 2303 days


#4 posted 10-11-2012 04:15 PM

http://lumberjocks.com/Woodworker_Collins/blog/29736

an example

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Sandra's profile

Sandra

6981 posts in 1536 days


#5 posted 10-11-2012 05:17 PM

Perfect, thanks gentlemen!

I was obviously in need of more coffee before posting my question. It is 30”, not feet. And I do have a table saw. The partial cuts were stumping me – table saw it is for the long cuts then – I was worried about it shredding mdf that thin. As far as the partial cuts – if I understand correctly, I can clamp the strips together, put them on edge and then have them sandwiched between two solid boards, or just one?

Sandra

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View patron's profile

patron

13535 posts in 2802 days


#6 posted 10-11-2012 05:37 PM

just a backer board for that sandra
where the blade leaves the wood
is where the shredding occurs

use a good blade for all cuts
so as to reduce tearout

slow and easy

if you are worried about tearing
cut some extras
and use them for the sacrificial boards

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Sandra's profile

Sandra

6981 posts in 1536 days


#7 posted 10-11-2012 05:48 PM

Excellent. Thanks. That’s my project for tonight, I’ll let you know how I make out.

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View Richforever's profile

Richforever

751 posts in 3181 days


#8 posted 10-11-2012 05:50 PM

The type of blade is really important for cutting thin stuff without much tear out. The melamine and laminate type of blade in the circular saw works well if you clamp a board to make the cut straight. Be sure to cut it from the back side so there is no tear out on the front side.

-- Rich, Seattle, WA

View Sandra's profile

Sandra

6981 posts in 1536 days


#9 posted 10-22-2012 02:02 AM

Patron – you were so right. I unclamped before testing, and then had to do a lot of fiddling. I finished cutting the mdf and posted it as a project.

Thanks for all the tips!
Sandra

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

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