What Type of Blade Cuts Medium-Density Fiberboard (MDF)?
Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) is a type of hardboard used for cabinetry and other indoor building projects. Available in 4- or 5-by-8-foot sheets and in a range of thicknesses from 3/8 to 1 inch, it is manufactured by pressing together wood fibers suspended in a synthetic resin binder. Any tool that cuts wood will cut MDF, but the choice of cutting tool should take the particular characteristics of MDF into account.
Any circular saw or handheld cutting tool will make rip cuts or crosscuts in MDF, but the blade should be carbide-tipped, because the high glue content of the material dulls steel blades quickly. A higher number of teeth on the blade reduces the likelihood of chipping, but at the same time, it increases the amount of dust produced. A sheet of MDF is the same size as a sheet of plywood and can be cut with a table saw, but the saw should have a vacuum removal system to prevent dust build-up from interfering with the motor.
A jigsaw cuts MDF as easily as it cuts plywood, although you should keep in mind that the more teeth the blade has, the less chance there is of chipping the material around the edges of the cut. Hence a steel-cutting blade, while cutting more slowly, will keep the edges intact in a sensitive cut. You can also cut curves in MDF with a handheld multipurpose or rotary tool fitted with a multi-purpose cutting blade. This is a good option for cutting notches in already-assembled MDF cabinets, when a plunge cut is necessary.
A drill fitted with a regular drill bit or a spade bit will make holes up to 1 1/2 inches in diameter in MDF as easily as it will in plywood, and it will make holes up to 4 inches with a hole saw. To make larger holes, or holes that aren’t circular, drill the corners of the outline of the hole with a drill bit and cut around the outline with a jigsaw. An alternative is to use a handheld multipurpose or rotary tool and a multi-purpose cutting blade, plunging the blade into the outline and guiding the tool carefully around it.
Any blade that can rout wood will rout MDF, but carbide-tipped blades will dull less quickly than steel ones. MDF produces copious amounts of dust while routing, and the problems this creates can be reduced by using a handheld multipurpose tool with a routing accessory. It is smaller than a conventional router, making it easier to handle and to keep visual contact with your work. When routing, always move the tool against the direction of the blade rotation, or it can spin out of control and ruin the edge on which you are working.