How to Safely Cut Medium Density Fiberboard

Medium Density Fiberboard on a white background.
  • 2-3 hours
  • Intermediate
  • $0-200
What You'll Need
Table saw, circular saw or jigsaw
Laminate blade or carbide blade
Utility knife
Straight edge
Router (with carbide straight flute bit and jig)
Work gloves
Eye protection
Face mask
Chalk line

Medium density fiberboard is known in the construction industry as MDF. Medium density fiberboard is a man-made substance which is usually found as a material in cabinet making. You will also see medium density fiberboard used as shelves or in walls. The material is very tough and easy to machine.

There is no grain to it as medium density fiberboard is a collection of recycled wood pressed together then topped with a panel of melamine that is laminated to it. Medium density fiberboard is found in several sizes and thicknesses. The problem people have with medium density fiberboard is cutting it. Doing so incorrectly will cause the laminate to chip. These methods will help you cut medium density fiberboard.

Method 1 - Use a Table Saw

Make sure you are using the laminate blade on the table saw. Measure the thickness of the medium density fiberboard and set the blade height to be ½ an inch higher. Before you attempt to cut the medium density fiberboard, you should always clean the surface of the table saw. Any debris can cause a bad cut or harm the laminate. Follow all of the safety precautions of the table saw and ensure the medium density fiberboard is properly supported.

Cutting the medium density fiberboard will create small particles, so make sure you are wearing eye protection and a face mask. Turn the table saw on and slowly feed the medium density fiberboard into the spinning blade. It is important to move slowly, at the same speed, and in one fluid motion. Feed the medium density fiberboard until you are finished cutting through it.

Method 2 - Use the Router

Stacked MDF.

The table saw will give you an adequate cut but the router with a carbide flute bit will cut the medium density fiberboard perfectly. When using the router to cut the medium density fiberboard you should always cut it so that it's slightly larger than you need. You'll then use the router to further trim the medium density fiberboard to the correct size. To ensure a straight line you'll want to utilize a router table or a jig.

Method 3 - Use the Circular Saw or Jigsaw

Medium density fiberboard can also be cut to size with either of these two saws. If you choose to use one of these, the medium density fiberboard first has to be scored. Put the medium density fiberboard on the work surface and clamp in place. Use a straight edge and a chalk line to create the cut line. Run the utility knife along the cut line. Continue doing this until you cut through the laminate area. Go slowly and use minimal pressure so you can avoid scratching the laminate. Use a carbide blade with a TPI of at least 20. Cut the medium density fiberboard with the laminate showing and do so slowly.