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Old 09-06-2011, 01:11 PM   #1
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Tool for cutting MDF


I am putting up a chair rail and picture frame moulding on my walls. I am new to the DIY projects, so I am buying the tools I need along the way. I was told to use a miter box, which I got. It was a manual saw and plastic box. It was terrible! By the end, I sawed 3/4 of the way through and then broke it in half. It worked for one, but I will not use it again. I know I need some sort of electric saw. I don't want to spend a lot of money on anything big and complicated since I probably won't use it too much. I was wondering if there was a type of hand-held saw that would work well. Maybe a multi-tool?

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Old 09-06-2011, 01:53 PM   #2
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Tool for cutting MDF


The best tool IMO for cutting molding is a sliding bevel miter saw. A decent electric one will run you somewhere in the $300 range, more if you want a fancy laser pointer etc. You can make the same cuts with a handsaw, you will need a very sharp cross cut saw, and you have to be very good with it. You will probably also need a coping saw if you are making chair rail or crown molding. The old masters were very good with hand tools, they could do a lot of things that are routinely done now with an electric miter saw and/or a router, but those skills are mostly lost, and hard to acquire. Good luck.

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Old 09-06-2011, 01:59 PM   #3
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Tool for cutting MDF


Keeling,

Clamp the box to a table and clamp the work-piece to the box. That's all you need to cut the MDF. MDF is the easiest thing there is to cut.
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Old 09-06-2011, 02:59 PM   #4
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Tool for cutting MDF


How did you cut 3/4 of the way through it? It almost sounds like you sat it on the center of your bench and allowed it to sit at an angle , rather than letting the longer leg hang off the edge and against the side of your bench, allowing the box ( and workpiece) to sit flat.

The best way to use these is to screw them down ( or clamp them as Bud suggests), then clamp down your work.

For the price of these compared to just about anything else that would do the same job, i'd buy another and try again before spending more $$ if it's a task you won't need to do very often
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Old 09-06-2011, 03:08 PM   #5
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Tool for cutting MDF


Support the end of the presumably long piece of trim, then it won't snap on you.
If you are looking for a powered saw, look for a used compound miter saw.
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Old 09-06-2011, 03:17 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by michaelcherr View Post
Support the end of the presumably long piece of trim, then it won't snap on you.
If you are looking for a powered saw, look for a used compound miter saw.
DUH...... for some reason i thought he said he cut through the miter box itself. How on earth did i miss that one? Guess I enjoyed a few too many beverages over the holiday weekend and am still feeling the effects. Thanks for quietly setting me straight Michael
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Old 09-06-2011, 08:45 PM   #7
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Tool for cutting MDF


I am actually a she! I am able to cut all the way through. It is just easier for me to cut partially through and then break it. For whatever reason manually sawing is difficult for me. The MDF is pretty thin. I just know it is taking me way longer to do it than it could if I had a power tool. That is why I was wondering about a multi-purpose tool because I knew I could use it for other things too. I am also planning to teach myself to build book shelves and toy storage cubes, so if I can use it for another purpose later than it is worth it to me to spend the money on a miter saw. Any recommendations on one? I truley am a beginner...I spent 30 minutes pushing out liquid nail with the flat end of a giant nail before I discovered that there is a caulk gun. LOL; that sounds so sad.
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Old 09-06-2011, 08:46 PM   #8
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I purposely snap the part that I partially cut.
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Old 09-06-2011, 08:53 PM   #9
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Tool for cutting MDF


A power mitre saw (chop saw) wouldn't be suitable for use building shelves for the most part.

You already have the best method for your situation.
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Old 09-07-2011, 02:19 PM   #10
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Tool for cutting MDF


A cheap (used) circular saw with a good blade will be good enough for your future shelving project.
I recomend Freud Thin kerf blades (available at Home Depot & elsewhere)
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Old 09-07-2011, 03:27 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MKeeling View Post
I am actually a she!
Whoops! Sorry about that. I guess I assumed you were a man because you are too impaitent to take the time to cut all the way through the moulding!! ( how's that for a good save )

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You already have the best method for your situation.
I'm usually one that loves spending $$ on new toys, but from what you've told us, I have to agree with Bud on this one.

Get some of your scraps and do some practice cuts with your backsaw and miter box. Keep the saw level and take slow smooth strokes, you'll get the hang of it quickly if you stay with it. A multi tool might cut faster, but your going to offset all the time you saved caulking the wide gaps from crooked cuts, not to mention all the scratches and jagged edges from the blade jumping all around on you.
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Old 09-07-2011, 03:32 PM   #12
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Tool for cutting MDF


For the price of it, I agree with buying another miter box, and give it a shot, or, if you feel like it, and know someone who has a table or radial arm saw, so that you can cut your guides nice and straight, do like we used to do, and make your own miter box with 3 pieces of straight 1 by nailed in a U. Then, as Bud said, fasten it down, so that it's not fighting you. And when you're ready to cut, let the saw do the work. A lot of people want to force the saw, which they often get by with using a handsaw, but my theory is that this does not work out well at all with a miter saw because a miter saw generally wants to move back and forth horizontally, which generally doesn't coincide well with the geometry of the arm movement, putting everything into a bit of a bind, which results more in ripping or tearing the wood away, as opposed to cutting it. I tend to think of the motion used with a miter saw akin to my 9:00 P.M. snack; gently spreading the peanut butter, in order to not tear the bread.
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Old 09-07-2011, 04:15 PM   #13
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Tool for cutting MDF


Something has just occurred to me in the form of what may be a "tip" for you. Once your material is in the mite box clamped and ready to be cut, make a few back-strokes with your saw without pushing forward to start the groove, then once the groove is started push your saw forward as you should to complete the cuts. Use both hands on the saw for strength and accuracy.
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Old 01-11-2012, 10:59 PM   #14
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Tool for cutting MDF


Could you possibly rent a power tool? Have no idea how much that costs.
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Old 01-12-2012, 05:42 PM   #15
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Tool for cutting MDF


yes you can rent power tools, most big box stores have a rental centre, it can run you around $25-40 to rent different saws for a day, but if you need it for upwards of a week it can add up.. by that time you will have paid in rental what it would cost to buy for some tools

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