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MDF is a very versatile material. It is used in a wide range of products, such as:
- Skirting and architrave
- Window boards
Due to this, MDF can be cut with several different types of saw. The one you use, will depend on several factors. Including, the product that is being cut, where it is being cut, and where it is being fitted.
You also have the option of cutting manually, with something like a hand saw, or a coping saw. As well as cutting with a power tool, such as a chop saw, a jigsaw, or a circular saw.
Any of these could be considered the best saw for cutting MDF, in different situations.
Below we will look at a few examples of when you might cut MDF. Including the best power tool and manual saw for the job.
Best saw for cutting sheets of MDF
MDF is available in sheets and can be used for a variety of applications. The most common sheet size is 2440 x 1220mm (smaller sizes are available). In terms of thickness, it can range anywhere between 3mm and 25mm.
Obviously, if you choose to cut manually, a thinner board is much less labour intensive. However, you can still comfortably cut thicker MDF with a hand saw.
The most common MDF thickness in construction and DIY, are 12mm and 18mm. Both of these can certainly be cut by hand if you are able to cut straight.
Best Handsaw for cutting sheets of MDF (personal opinion)
The best hand saw for the job is going to be subjective. Some people will prefer different saws and brands over others.
Therefore, I can only give you my opinion from personal experience.
Over the years, I have tried and used many different saw brands. The one I always come back too, is a Bacho 244-22. In my opinion it gives a really nice clean cut, the weight and balance is perfect, and they are not overpriced.
You can easily pay double for a saw that is nowhere near as good. This is one of the main reasons it is so popular with professional carpenters, who go through a lot of saws. Walk on any building site and you will see tradesmen using these.
You can see this saw and read some customer reviews by clicking here
Best power tools for cutting sheets of MDF
The power tool you choose, will depend on the cut you want to make. If you are cutting a straight line, then any type of circular saw will do the job.
Unless you are a professional, who will be using this saw day-in day-out, then a decent budget circular saw will do the job.
I personally bought a budget saw a few months ago for cutting plywood and I was very happy. Especially considering it cost half the price of the more professional saws.
You can read my full Mac Allister circular saw review by clicking here
If on the other hand, you want to cut a curved line, a scribe, or any other non-straight line, then a jigsaw will be your best bet. Again, any decent jigsaw will do the job, and if you’re only using it for DIY, I would recommend buying a basic 240v corded jigsaw.
Best saw for cutting MDF skirting and architrave
Two very common MDF products are skirting and architrave. These products both come in MDF and in standard timber. However, MDF is popular, as it has certain advantages over timber. These include:
- No knots, sap, and grain
- MDF doesn’t warp, or twist
- Easy to paint
- Easier to fill and hide mistakes.
When cutting MDF skirting and architrave, the most common tool used is a chop saw. This will allow you to cut perfect mitres, which will result in a very neat finish.
If you don’t have a chop saw, you can cut by hand with a mitre saw, or a mitre block, but this will take more time and there is more room for error.
Another saw you will need when cutting skirting is a coping saw. This will enable you to cut scribes on internal corners.
When it comes to hand tools like coping saws, I don’t recommend going as cheap as possible. A reasonably good saw will last for years. So spending a few extra pounds makes sense.
I have the same coping saw that I bought as an apprentice back in 2002. So that’s lasted me 2 decades, and it has had a lot of use in that time.
You can see a decent coping saw by clicking here
Best saws for different types of cuts in MDF
I could go on and mention lots of different types of MDF, and how they are all cut. However, I don’t think that is necessary, or particularly helpful.
We have already covered the main saws you would use for cutting any type of MDF, in the previous two examples.
The more important question to ask, is the type of cut you are performing. Therefore, below I have mentioned the type of cut and the best saw for the job, followed by potential alternatives.
- Long straight cuts (rips) – The best saw for this type of cut, is a circular saw. It’s by far the fastest, and if you use a guide, the cuts should be perfect.
The alternative here is cutting by hand. This will require more skill and you should be able to cut in a straight line. Also, cutting a full length of 18mm MDF is no joke. Prepared to be out of breath and have a sore arm by the end.
- Long uneven cuts – This could include times when your MDF is butting up to an uneven surface. In this case, you want to try and cut the wood, so it buts up with no gaps.
For this type of job, you need a jigsaw. If you mark the scribe correctly, a jigsaw will let you cut exactly to the shape of the surface.
- Short straight cuts – For this job, either a chop saw, or a hand saw will do the job. Personally, I use the saw that is the most convenient at the time. If you aren’t great at cutting straight, then a chop saw would be the best choice.
- Cutting mitres – This will be needed for anything similar to skirting or architrave, where MDF needs joining on an angle or a corner. The best saw for this job would be a chop saw.
If you don’t have a chop saw, a mitre block or a mitre saw will also do a decent job.
- Small, neat scribes – This is most common with things like skirting, but it could apply to other situations, where the material being cut is delicate. This would mean a jigsaw is too aggressive, and a coping saw would be the best choice.
As you can see, there is no single best saw for cutting MDF. The tool you choose, needs to be the right tool for the job.
In many cases, you will have a choice between a hand tool and a power tool. Again, the best choice will depend on the job. In many cases the power tool is the best and easiest option. However, when doing more intricate and delicate work, you can usually get more finesse with a decent hand tool.