best blade for MDF and/or any tips re dust


Old 05-08-06, 09:43 PM
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best blade for MDF and/or any tips re dust

I'm using a carbide blade--24 teeth, general purpose--in my Skilsaw to cut MDF for shelves. I knew before I started that MDF creates a lot of dust, but I hadn't imagined exactly how much I would be dealing with or the fact that it is so fine. I'm wondering if a different blade would make an appreciable difference in the amount of MDF dust created.

Also, my saw is old, but seemingly adequate except for the fact that it lacks a vacuum port. I've jury-rigged a hose attachment to the opening at the back of the saw, which collects quite a bit of dust, but this amount is just a small fraction of what is thrown off as I work. Do newer saws do a better job of containing the mess?

I appreciate any advice about minimizing the mess. I live in a condo (no workshop) and I swear that for every minute I spend working on these shelves, I spend 2 minutes with the vacuum cleaner sucking up pulverized MDF.
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Old 05-09-06, 06:04 PM
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The 24 tooth blade may be a little too aggressive for the mdf. I try to use 60 to 80 teeth in order to get a clean cut. Breathing the dust from mdf (or anything for that matter) is really bad. Always wear a dust mask. Disconnect the vacuum you have placed on your saw. If it wasn't meant to have one, you may endanger yourself by having it there. It could throw you off balance, or cause the blade to wander if it gets caught on something. You may could find an inexpensive saw that has a port, but just running a shop vac in the vicinity of the bottom of your cutting area, should collect the majority of the dust.
Hey, look, I have a shop, with many dust making tools, and vacuuming is my Sunday afternoon after church plaything, so what you are going through is normal. Good luck with the shelves.
Old 05-09-06, 06:51 PM
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A 24 tooth blade "theoretically" would produce the least amount of dust since it would be taking larger bites out of the sheet. A 40 or 60 tooth blade would produce a finer cut because it is taking smaller bites out of the goods, but would not produce less dust.

IMO, the shop vac is a great idea, provided you are safe about using it and that it's not distracting you from making the cut safely, as Chandler aptly mentions. (some shop vacs have a plugin on the shop vac and an "auto" setting, so that when you turn the tool on, the shop vac turns on automatically, which is pretty handy for situations like that.)

Dust is normal with MDF (wearing a respirator- not the cheap unfiltered paper dust masks- is highly recommended.) There may be blades that will produce a FINER cut, but no blade will create less dust.

Best thing I could suggest is to buy a roll of cheap painter's plastic, lay it down on the floor or tape it to the walls. Then just fold it up and throw it away when you are done. Zero vacuuming, except for what sticks to your feet as you walk around in it. On the plus side, MDF dust is attracted to plastic due to it's static charge. It'll make the hair on your arms stand on end! LOL

If you wanted to rent a saw, you might be able to locate a skilsaw that actually HAS a dust port and is made for cutting dusty materials, like MDF or fiber-cement.
Old 05-10-06, 04:21 PM
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Thank you for the advice. I guess I better upgrade from my paper mask and learn to enjoy vacuuming.

I had hoped to avoid this by having Home Depot cut the MDF sheets into 12" boards (2 sheets, 4 8’ long, 7 or 8 4’ long), but I ended up with 12 boards that were kinda-sorta 12" wide. As a result, I'm cutting everything down to 11.5." Given the interlocking design, I’ll need to cut a total of 24 5.25” slots. I should be about ankle deep in the dust by the time I finish.
Old 05-13-06, 06:39 PM
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If you have a Home Depot or similar with a good cutting saw and service.

In situations in the past I have found that getting my local home depot to cut up all the main pieces of a project is well worth the cost - as long as measurements can tolerate being 1/16" out.

It may cost an extra $30 or so, but you save a ton of time and mess - then when you are home you may have a few cuts here and there. Transporting the pieces is lighter work and easier too.

Here's a tip - there are always a few individuals at Home Depots etc that have good experience behind them and care about their work and the quailty of service they provide. Talk to a few in the lumber areas until you get a feel for the experienced ones - after a while (if you are there alot) you will get to know them and when you need cutting done - seek out this employee(s) to do your cutting. If you get along with them, an they are easy going and friendly, chances are good, that they will take some time with your order and cutting.

Another tip - be prepared - have a layout for cutting and know exactly what you want, how many sheets etc, so that you are not taking advantage of their time - they will appreciate the consideration and not flee the next time you show up for more cutting.
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