It’s no secret that MDF is a surprisingly strong, yet cost-effective building material. It can be made into a range of home furnishings such as baseboards, kitchen counter tops, and door trim.
And thanks to its dense mix of wood fibers and resin, it doesn’t splinter or tear-out like plywood sheets.
But does MDF (otherwise known as Medium Density Fiberboard) machine easily? In other words, can you use a router on MDF to cut it into shape?
Yes, you can use a router on MDF. However, the type of router bit you use matters. Ideally, you will want to use a carbide flute bit to cut thorough those dense MDF wood fibers. Flute bits have more cutting edges to them – allowing them to cut a smooth straight edge.
Now, MDF is one of the most popular materials for crafting projects. It is also very affordable, which makes it a great material for using in DIY projects. However, the downside to using MDF is that it tends to be difficult to route, particularly if you have several layers that need to be cut.
So what if you can’t get your hands on a carbide flute bit for your router tool? Can that sheet of MDF turn out to be bad for your router bits?
Well, we are going to get into the answers to those questions and more in the rest of this article. So lets get into it!
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Is MDF Easy To Route?
Routers are very versatile when it comes to cutting material. They are designed to carve their way through smooth surfaces quickly and cleanly.
And thankfully, MDF is very easy to route, especially as tear-outs are rare. Even burn marks aren’t an issue when routing this material.
But, while cutting through this type of board isn’t a problem, you might find it difficult to get those edges really smooth.
Basically, thanks to MDF’s wood fibers, its routed edges can appear all fuzzy.
Fuzzy edges can be a bit of a hassle, especially if you plan on adding a coat of paint to that freshly cut MDF sheet later on. When paint is applied it can cause those fuzzy edges to swell up. But, its nothing that can’t be sanded down afterwards.
However, with the right tool bit, you can cut through this material with ease AND keep those edges straight. The key is to find a good router bit that will cut MDF cleanly and accurately.
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So, What Is The Best Router Bit For MDF?
The router bit you use is key to getting the cut you want. It’s crucial that you select the appropriate bit for the material you are working with. And if you are working with dense, hard, or irregular materials like MDF, a high-quality bit is essential to avoid chipping or breaking.
With that said, there is a type of router bit that fares better than most when it comes to making its way through MDF. And that bit is called a carbide flute bit.
These types of bits have been specifically made for prolonged work, and are designed to give the cleanest finish.
And just to be clear, you will still need to sharpen this bit regularly too… but just not as often as your standard router bit.
But, if pricey carbide bits aren’t within your budget, you can still get a smooth edge using a spiral bit. This is because the angled edges of spiral bits will slice through the wood as you cut. By slicing (rather than chopping) at that MDF sheet, spiral bits leave you with a nice clean edge.
But, Isn’t MDF Supposed To Bad For Router Bits?
MDF can be real tough on router bits. It can dull bits pretty quickly, due to all of that abrasive resin and dust.
Sure, routers are an amazing tool – especially for us DIY enthusiasts who don’t want to while away the hours with a handsaw.
But, too many people use router bits without taking the time to clean them properly. This can cause damage to the router itself and can cause problems with your workpiece. And this problem is made even worse when you are routing MDF.
The resin found in MDF is going to be a real kick in the teeth to your router bit. So if you are routing MDF, be prepared to clean and sharpen those router bits regularly after use.
So To Wrap Up…
The right router bit can be your best friend when it comes to cutting through dense wood. Whether it’s cutting through particle board or carving through wood veneers, your choice of router bit really does matter.
So, when it comes to MDF, if you use a carbide flute bit, you can cut through it quite smoothly. Or if you want to save a bit of money, you can route this manufactured wood using a spiral router bit instead.
Regardless, you will still need to sharpen those bits frequently after using them to cut MDF.