Can You Cut MDF With A Table Saw?

If you buy something through our posts, we may get a small commission. Read more here.

MDF is a popular choice in the woodworking world, and a table saw stands out as a versatile piece of equipment capable of making a variety of cuts. If you’re wondering whether a table saw is up to the task of cutting MDF, you’ve come to the right place!

In this guide, let’s delve into whether a table saw is the right tool for the job, and I’ll also equip you with crucial safety tips to ensure you can cut MDF both effectively and safely.

Is it Recommended to Cut MDF Using a Table Saw?

Utilizing a table saw for cutting MDF is a widely accepted and effective method for handling this material. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to prioritize safety measures to minimize the risk of injuries and guarantee optimal outcomes.

What Type of Blade to Use For Cutting MDF

A crosscut blade with 80 to 100 teeth or a fine-toothed blade with 60 to 80 teeth can produce clean and smooth cuts on MDF.

Before cutting MDF with a table saw, it’s important to consider several factors to ensure safety and achieve the best possible results:

  1. Use a blade with a high tooth count and a low hook angle, like the carbide-tipped blade to prevent splintering and tear-out on the material.
  2. Ensure the blade is sharp to avoid burning and reduce the risk of kickback.
  3. Wear appropriate protective gear, such as safety glasses, a dust mask, and hearing protection, to prevent injuries and minimize exposure to dust.
  4. Use proper cutting techniques, such as making multiple shallow passes instead of one deep cut, to avoid binding the blade and causing kickback.
  5. Use a dust collector or wear a dust mask to minimize exposure to MDF dust, which can be harmful when inhaled.
cutting MDF board with a table saw

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Blade To Cut MDF

Given the plethora of blade options on the market, finding the right one might seem overwhelming. Yet, by taking certain key factors into account, you can streamline your choice and significantly boost the chances of your project’s success.

Size of the Blade

Generally, a blade with a diameter of 10 inches or more is suitable for cutting MDF sheets up to 1 inch thick.

Using a small blade can cause overheating and result in uneven cuts or burn marks on the material, while a large blade can put excessive strain on the motor and cause the saw to bog down.

Number of Blade’s Teeth

Typically, a blade with 60 to 100 teeth is recommended for MDF cutting. Blades with a large quantity of teeth produce cleaner, smoother cuts on MDF [1], resulting in a better-finished product.

Type of Blade

MDF is a dense and uniform material that requires a blade with teeth designed to make smooth and clean cuts. Choosing the right blade type not only ensures the quality of the cut but also prolongs the life of the blade.

Several blade types are available for table saws that effectively cut MDF.

table saw blade

Type of Blade

Number of Teeth

Characteristics

Crosscut blade

60 – 100

  • Designed to make a crosscut on the wood grain
  • Produces smoother and cleaner cuts on MDF
  • Less prone to tear-out and splintering compared to rip blades

ATB(Alternate Top Bevel) blade

60 – 100

  • Features teeth that alternate between left and right bevels
  • Produces a clean and precise cut on MDF with minimal tear-out and splintering
  • Ideal for cutting MDF, plywood, and other engineered wood products

Composite blade

40 -100

  • Made of composite materials such as carbide and steel
  • Offers enhanced durability and longevity compared to traditional steel blades
  • Available in a range of tooth counts and configurations for various cutting applications.

Combination blade

24 – 50

  • A versatile blade that can handle both ripping and crosscutting applications
  • Alternating groups of teeth designed for ripping and crosscutting
  • It can be a good choice if the project requires both ripping and crosscutting capabilities

How To Cut MDF Using a Table Saw

You can cut MDF on a table saw using two main methods: crosscutting and rip-cutting. Before using a table saw to make rip cuts or crosscuts on MDF, it’s important to follow these safety precautions:

  1. Wear appropriate safety gear, including safety glasses, ear protection, and a dust mask to protect against airborne dust.
  2. Ensure the saw blade is properly installed and tightened.
  3. Adjust the blade height and fence to the correct position for the desired cut.
  4. Ensure the saw is properly grounded and there are no exposed wires.
  5. Keep your hands away from the blade at all times, using a push stick or push block to guide the board through the saw.
  6. Use a feather board to maintain a flat MDF board against the table and fence.
  7. Do not stand directly behind the blade, as kickback can occur.
  8. Keep the work area clean and free of any debris that may cause slips or falls.

How To Rip-Cut MDF Using a Table Saw

Rip cutting is when you cut the MDF board parallel to the grain, ideal for creating longer pieces, resulting in a rougher and less refined edge. Here are the steps for using a table saw for rip-cutting MDF:

  1. Ensure that the saw blade is suitable for ripping MDF and is sharp before adjusting the blade height so it is just over the MDF board’s height. Next, set the rip fence parallel to the blade and adjust its distance from the blade according to the preferred width of the rip cut.
  2. Measure and mark the MDF board where the rip cut needs to be made by using a straightedge to draw a straight line along the length of the board to guide the saw.
  3. Ensure the saw’s safety features, including the blade guard and anti-kickback pawls, are in place and functioning properly. Wear appropriate safety gear, such as safety glasses, ear protection, and a dust mask.
  4. Turn on the saw and slowly feed the MDF board into the blade while you keep the board pressed firmly against the rip barrier, but avoid pushing it too hard, which can cause kickback. You can use a device such as a push stick or push block to keep your hands safe from the blade. Check the best push block for a table saw here. 
  5. Once the cut is complete, turn off the saw and remove the board. Inspect the cut for any rough edges or splinters that need to be sanded down.
Cutting MDF using table saw

How To Crosscut MDF Using a Table Saw

Alternatively, crosscutting involves cutting the MDF board at a right angle to the grain, which is best suited for producing shorter pieces, resulting in a neater and more refined edge.

Below are the steps for using a table saw to crosscut MDF:

  1. Check that the saw blade is appropriate for crosscutting MDF and is sharp before you adjust the height of the blade to just slightly higher than the MDF board. Then, set the miter gauge to the desired angle or keep it at 90 degrees for a straight cut. 
  2. Carefully measure and mark the precise location for the crosscut on the MDF board, making certain that it is perpendicular to the edge.
  3. Ensure that the saw’s safety features, such as the blade guard and anti-kickback pawls, are functioning correctly and that you are wearing the necessary safety equipment, such as safety glasses, ear protection, and a dust mask. 
  4. Start the saw and gradually feed the MDF board into the blade while keeping it securely against the miter gauge, taking care not to push too hard to avoid kickback. Use a push stick or push block to prevent your hands from getting too close to the blade.
  5. Once the cut is complete, turn off the saw, remove the board, and inspect the cut for any rough edges or splinters that need to be smoothed out with sandpaper.

Alternative Woodworking Tools For Cutting MDF

In addition to a table saw MDF can be cut using several other woodworking tools. These include:

  1. Circular saw
  2. Jigsaw
  3. Router
  4. Oscillating multi-tool
Preparing table saw on top of MDF

FAQ

What is the best way to cut MDF?

The best way to cut MDF depends on the project and available tools. However, a table saw is the most efficient and accurate way to cut MDF, especially for long, straight cuts. But you can use a reliable circular saw or jigsaw for smaller projects or when portability is important.

Conclusion

By adhering to essential safety protocols, you have the ability to skillfully cut MDF using a table saw. Ensuring you select the right type of blade, along with the appropriate tooth count and size of the saw, is key to achieving cuts that are both precise and clean.

Armed with the proper tools and a commitment to safety, turning MDF into your desired shapes and sizes with a table saw becomes a seamless task, accessible to both seasoned professionals and avid do-it-yourself enthusiasts.

robert headshot

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related Articles
Join our community on facebook and get 3 woodworking plans for free!