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Ripping MDF - Circular Saw or Table Saw?

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  • Ripping MDF - Circular Saw or Table Saw?

    I'm making baseboards for my house out of MDF. I'm going to rip 4x8 foot sheets into 5" strips. Which is better, faster?

    1] Straight Edge and Circular Saw
    2] Table Saw

    Suggestions, comments, jigs? Thanks!

  • #2


    [ 10-02-2003, 04:18 PM: Message edited by: K.M. Delano ]
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    • #3
      Get yourself a table saw. Watch the dust from that stuff......... It's nasty.
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      • #4
        I used a circular saw for 25+ years instead of a table saw. I've had my 3612 for about 4 months and cut everything with it, even cheese. I will only use a circular saw where the table saw will absolutely not work. I've cut mdf with it and agree with K.M., it is nasty.
        www.TheWoodCellar.com

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        • #5
          my only comment is why use mdf icant for the life of me see any reason are you just going to leave it square or try to form a decorative edge Just curious bill

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          • #6
            I've used both saws on MDF. Table saw is faster, for me.

            The dust is truly bad. Do it outdoors, if possible.

            MDF routes nicely. You can dress up the edges on a router table easily.
            keep makn\' sawdust!...just don\'t breath any.

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            • #7
              It all depends upon your set up and accessories available. If you are using a stock table saw with no wing extentions, no outfeed table, no roller or flip top stands; you are way better off using a circular saw with an edge guide, commonaly known as a rip fence. You just have to make sure you you follow through your cuts and you will be fine.

              I personally have a dual fence system on my table saw for such cuts, and I'm guessing it's rare. It's a nice setup that keeps things running perfectly straight threw the cut.

              In any case, indoors or out, use a proper particle mask. MDF cutting produces micro fine air born fibers that is resin coated, and is about as bad as anything you can breath.

              Few things in life I hate, MDF is near the top of the list. I would like to hear your logic on choosing MDF in this application?
              John E. Adams<br /><a href=\"http://www.woodys-workshop.com\" target=\"_blank\">www.woodys-workshop.com</a>

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              • #8
                Thanks for the suggestions. A little background. We are currently building a house and my wife and I are doing alot of the work ourselves. A few weeks back I purchased a Dewalt 15 AMP Circular Saw with the thoughts of using it and a straight edge to rip the MDF.

                After reading this forum, I was able to get the 3612 for $295 locally here in Florida. My thoughts then turned to ripping the MDF with that.

                The reason for the MDF is that when my father-in-law built his house (all by himself, a 2 year project) he ended up using MDF for all his moldings. I must say (and I know I am a newbie) that they looked phenominal.

                He routed the edges and the look beautiful. They came out perfect and one of the first things he gets complemented on is the baseboards and mouldings around the windows and doors.

                My goal here was to get some suggestions. MDF is heavy and cumbersome. All I have is the 3612 with no outfeed table currently.

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                • #9
                  Since I'm assuming you want 8" strips, use the circular saw and straight edge----MDF is just too heavy and with no outfeed supports, it's impossible. But, have you priced the MDF trim---pre-primed----unless you have some exotic profile in mind, the pre-cut stuff is sure easier.

                  BTW---when you get the 4x8 down to about 1 1/2ft. wide, you could more easily use the table saw, but will still need an outfeed----I really love the Ridgid Flip Top.
                  Dave

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Rafael:
                    I used a circular saw for 25+ years instead of a table saw. I've had my 3612 for about 4 months and cut everything with it, even cheese
                    I've gotta ask... CHEESE??? Please tell the story... [img]smile.gif[/img]

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                    • #11
                      Captain bunzo,
                      Just trying to add a little humor to our daily rants.
                      www.TheWoodCellar.com

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                      • #12
                        Hi guys,
                        I just came on board and in regards to the question ripping by saw or table - I found that using a radial arm saw makes super sense as well.
                        It has a 27" gate, cutting dado attachement, various cutting knives, powerful enough to match a table, a 45deg dust knosle when attached to a shop vac minimizes dust, safety blade covers for good sense and the whole slew of goodies that ccome with a radial saw. I have the RS1000 - its a beauty and what a work horse. On top of being no. 1 in my books, the RS 1000 has a 60 deg swing arm for mitering on either side, 0 to 90 deg swing yoke for cutting compound angles that I never though I could get with my miter saw....it's truely a great tool and ripping is fun too...I just thought of sharing this little tid bit of info since noone mentions the radial saw as a ripping alternative.
                        \"is that smoke ???\"

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                        • #13
                          I would use the table saw and make some makeshift outfeed table setup to get it done. Roller stands or the Ridgid flip top are not that expensive and you will use them again many times, I guarantee it. You could create a makeshift outfeed table - a simple flat surface that is sturdy enough to hold the weight.

                          If it is just too unweildy, I would rip the strips a little wide with the circular saw and then rip to final width on the table saw - or even just rip the full sheet in half, that would already make it more managable for the table saw.

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