Cutting MDF straight

Discussion of model railway baseboard design and construction
User avatar
Polyrhythms
Posts: 123
Joined: Tue Feb 16, 2010 5:34 pm

Cutting MDF straight

Postby Polyrhythms » Sun Jun 24, 2012 12:55 pm

I have an 8' by 4' sheet of 9mm MDF, and a handheld jigsaw that goes all over the place.. What are the odds of me getting a straight cut, such that I can join the baseboards together?

I need 4 sections of 3' x18".

Of course I could cut two 6' x 18" pieces and cut that in half, which would then fit together, and would have straight edges from the original sheet. But, is there a way of controlling this unwieldy beast?

cheers,
sam

User avatar
poliss
Posts: 1661
Joined: Mon Jun 20, 2005 5:28 pm

Re: Cutting MDF straight

Postby poliss » Sun Jun 24, 2012 1:03 pm

If you only have a jigsaw then you will need to cramp a fence to the MDF as a guide. Use a narrow 2" or 3" wide piece of mdf for the fence.
A table saw would be ideal of course. :-)

User avatar
Polyrhythms
Posts: 123
Joined: Tue Feb 16, 2010 5:34 pm

Re: Cutting MDF straight

Postby Polyrhythms » Sun Jun 24, 2012 1:27 pm

Haha yes a table saw would be ideal!

I tried using a piece of 2x1 as a guide, the blade in the jigsaw just went haywire, it was worse than cutting freehand.

User avatar
Roger (RJ)
Posts: 1439
Joined: Tue May 29, 2007 2:59 pm
Location: Nottingham, UK.

Re: Cutting MDF straight

Postby Roger (RJ) » Sun Jun 24, 2012 1:32 pm

Polyrhythms wrote:Haha yes a table saw would be ideal!

I tried using a piece of 2x1 as a guide, the blade in the jigsaw just went haywire, it was worse than cutting freehand.

It can help to do it freehand if you draw two parallel lines the same thickness as the jigsaw blade. Cut between the two lines and it's easier to get the cut straight.

User avatar
poliss
Posts: 1661
Joined: Mon Jun 20, 2005 5:28 pm

Re: Cutting MDF straight

Postby poliss » Sun Jun 24, 2012 2:12 pm

What kind of blade are you using. Is it a specialist MDF blade? The speed of the saw is important too, although I can't remember offhand what speed I used. :roll:
It takes lots of practise to cut a straight line with a jigsaw. It's sometimes easier (for straight lines, not physical effort) to use a handsaw.

User avatar
Polyrhythms
Posts: 123
Joined: Tue Feb 16, 2010 5:34 pm

Re: Cutting MDF straight

Postby Polyrhythms » Sun Jun 24, 2012 3:20 pm

I have a good selection of blades, i'll see if any of them are for mdf. I'll have a look around at saw speeds too.

cheers

User avatar
poliss
Posts: 1661
Joined: Mon Jun 20, 2005 5:28 pm

Re: Cutting MDF straight

Postby poliss » Sun Jun 24, 2012 3:43 pm

A wide blade is better than a thin blade as it should follow the line better. It's also extremely important to get the rollers perfectly positioned.

User avatar
Bufferstop
Posts: 12098
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2010 12:06 pm
Location: Bottom end of N. Warks line

Re: Cutting MDF straight

Postby Bufferstop » Sun Jun 24, 2012 5:33 pm

My motto is "always buy your sheet material from someone who will cut it for you" even if you have to pay extra to get it cut.
The benefits, - a good clean straight cut, no faffing around trying to improvise an 8'X4' cutting bench, no struggling to cut with a less than ideal saw for the job, easier to carry and more likely to fit in/on your car so you can take it home, so no waiting in for the delivery!
John W
aka Bufferstop
Growing old, can't avoid it. Growing up, forget it!
My Layout, My Workbench Blog and My Opinions

User avatar
Jack Middleton
Posts: 158
Joined: Wed May 20, 2009 9:25 am

Re: Cutting MDF straight

Postby Jack Middleton » Sun Jun 24, 2012 6:03 pm

Always used a tenon saw myself, enables a straighter cut if your line is drawn out.

User avatar
poliss
Posts: 1661
Joined: Mon Jun 20, 2005 5:28 pm

Re: Cutting MDF straight

Postby poliss » Sun Jun 24, 2012 6:19 pm

You mean a rip saw? A tenon saw has a back on it and can't cut panels.

User avatar
Polyrhythms
Posts: 123
Joined: Tue Feb 16, 2010 5:34 pm

Re: Cutting MDF straight

Postby Polyrhythms » Sun Jun 24, 2012 6:53 pm

Shoulda woulda coulda gone to the timber merchants (not buildbase) first. They should cut it for me, and it'll probably be cheaper.

User avatar
Bufferstop
Posts: 12098
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2010 12:06 pm
Location: Bottom end of N. Warks line

Re: Cutting MDF straight

Postby Bufferstop » Sun Jun 24, 2012 7:06 pm

My local Buildbase will cut. I just go up into the timber loft talk to the guy up there to make sure that a)The cutting rig is working, b) there's someone on shift who is trained to use it c) they haven't got a huge job on for a local builder. Then I go down into the sales counter, pay for what I want and take the receipt back to the timber guy. Last time they even helped carry it out to the car!
Growing old, can't avoid it. Growing up, forget it!
My Layout, My Workbench Blog and My Opinions

User avatar
Jack Middleton
Posts: 158
Joined: Wed May 20, 2009 9:25 am

Re: Cutting MDF straight

Postby Jack Middleton » Sun Jun 24, 2012 9:24 pm

No, definitely tenon saw as it's all I had to hand, I kept it more or less flat to the surface and got a perfect straight edge.

noel
Posts: 435
Joined: Sun Dec 23, 2007 1:27 pm

Re: Cutting MDF straight

Postby noel » Sun Jun 24, 2012 10:34 pm

+

Best solution is to saw against a piece of softwood for a fence.

+

User avatar
Flashbang
Posts: 3495
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2007 1:07 pm
Location: SE United Kingdom
Contact:

Re: Cutting MDF straight

Postby Flashbang » Mon Jun 25, 2012 2:52 pm

Cutting a straight line in any sheet material is easily done with a 'Panel saw'. Sold by all DIY stores from around £6 up.
A Tenon saw isn't really suitable for longer length cuts due to the extra wide bracing along its top edge which prevents the saw blade entering the cut.
You will if you keep the Panel saw onto a pre drawn pencil line obtain as near straight cut as practicable. If necessary trim excess material to exact with a woodwork plane or rasp / file.

The other more expensive option is to use a circular saw fitted with a dust collection bag!

Example Panel Saw...Panel Saws example
[Image << Click the Icon to go to my website
Broken? It was working correctly when I left it.


Return to “Baseboard Design and Construction”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest