How To Cut Mdf With A Utility Knife

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MDF stands for medium density fiberboard. It is a type of engineered wood that is typically used for partition walls, furniture, shelving, and cabinets because it can be milled like a softwood.

It’s also very good in the sense that you don’t have to worry about finishing it off yet when cutting it because it has no finish on it which means you can just sand and paint overtop of the MDF!

If you are going to cut your MDF with a utility knife, there are some things you should know before starting:

1) First invest in some quality blades that will stay sharp over time. It is a waste to cut a nice straight edge only to have it become dull. Thus I would recommend getting your blades from whoever makes them for the MAKE magazine or something like that.

2) You need a utility knife that can be used for cutting  atleast 1/2″ MDF. There are many different brands out there, but I personally just use the ones made by Stanley or Olfa.

3) A quality MDF Board. I have used many different boards and I can say that if you buy a good wood, you wont need to worry about your knife getting dull too fast.

Step By Step – How To Cut Mdf Board With A Utility Knife

Below we will discuss how to cut mdf board by hand and how to cut mdf without chipping.


  • Utiltiy Knife
  • MDF Board
  • Wet Towel
  • Dust Brush

Budget: $30-$60

Duration: 30 – 50 Minutes

Step One:

Remove any hardware that is attached to the wood

Wash the MDF with water and a dust brush to remove any large particles

Step Two:

Use the template of your design to plan out roughly where you are going to cut. Make sure that you apply this method when cutting any kind of MDF or particle board. This method ensures that each piece will come out the same way and will be as close to perfect as possible.

Step Three:

Lay the wood on top of the MDF making sure that you have enough room to cut and that it is square.

The next step is probably the most important. Make sure that you are using a wet towel and wet it so you can wipe down your utility knife before each cut. This will allow the blade to stay dust-free for as long as possible.

Step Four:

Use a straight edge to make sure that the blade is straight and smooth. If not, simply sand with fine sandpaper until they are even.

Make the first cut and make sure to keep the blade as straight as possible. The less you have to sand, the better!

Step Five:

After you make one cut, dry it up with a dry towel and use a clean portion of the towel so that you can check if your cutting line is even. If not, simply wet your edge again and sand it smooth until it is.

Step Six:

Repeat step 4-5 until your cut is complete.

Step Seven:

Make sure to keep your cuts as accurate within the marked lines, so you will prevent chipping the mdf board.

And you’re done!

Another tip to cut MDF safely is with using a line guide:

Line guides are easy to use and only cost $10-20 bucks and they can be used on any kind of project that has straight lines. They also come in many different shapes to accommodate for any kind of project. And I suggest that you use one if you don’t want any chips or splinters (I am going to buy one again myself).

Now you can happily cut MDF boards with a utility knife with ease!

Step By Step How To Cut Mdf Shapes With A Utility Knife

Step One:

Take your wood and place it on a flat and level surface. Make sure that both sides of your wood are facing the same direction, if not simply flip them around.

Step Two:

Take your utility knife, wet it with water and wipe it down with a clean towel in preparation for cutting.

Step Three:

Try to get pretty close to the circular lines that you drew on paper so you can make sure they are correct before actually making the cut.

Step Four:

Now you can use an accurate straight edge or any other straight edge tool that has less teeth then the actual blade of the utility knife. This will ensure that your cuts are straight and even.

Step Five:

If you don’t have any straight edges simply take a scrap piece of wood and cut it up to use as a straight edge for your utility knife.

Step Six:

Make the cut using a push pull motion with the blade If you want to get fancy with your cuts then try making some inside bevel cuts, just remember to keep the blade at the same angle throughout.

Step Seven:

There is no need to sand these pieces yet, all you need to do is finish them off by cleaning off any rough edges either using sand paper or another flat surface or from using your hands.

Step Eight:

Continuously follow cutting the circle guide you have while keeping the wet towel in the side to ease up the dust off. This also helps to prevent chipping when cutting the MDF board in circles and other shapes.

Now you learn how to easily cut shapes with an MDF board using a utility knife!

MDF Cutting Safety:

Is Cutting Mdf Dangerous?

No, it’s not, cutting MDF with a utility knife is very safe and easy.

There are many ways to cut MDF safely, but in my opinion, using the wet towel method described above is the best. However, you may want to check other safety methods below:

Cutting Mdf Without Mask?

Okay, masks are a must with cutting MDF. MDF Boards have one of the most residue when being worked on. That means lots and lots of dust.

Cutting an MDF without a mask will then pose some serious health hazards for you, so always mask up!

Can Mdf Give You Cancer?

MDF boards are products made from hardwood and softwood fibers that are bonded together with wax and a resin adhesive containing urea-formaldehyde. Both wood dust and formaldehyde are Group 1 carcinogens. Group 1 carcinogens can heighten the risk of cancer. MDF dust if inhaled may heighten the risk of cancer.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Blade Do You Use To Cut MDF?

The best blade to use when cutting an MDF Board with a Power Saw are the 50-tooth to 80-tooth blades. For a good rule of thumb 60-tooth and up blades often make better cuts in dense materials. When using a utility knife, the best blade to use to cut MDF with a Utility Knife would be a carbide tipped blade.

Is MDF Stronger Than Plywood?

MDF is not stronger than plywood. MDF is more flexible at the expense of durability and density as plywood is more denser and more durable.

Does Painting Mdf Make It Safe?

Painting MDF with oil based paint makes it safe. So paint MDF with oil based paint. Water and water based paint does not mix well with MDF. You will run the risk of causing material damage to the MDF if you use water based paint.

Final Thoughts How To Cut MDF With A Utility Knife

This ends our How To Guide of How To Cut MDF With A Utility Knife.

We hope the knowledge you gained here will help you in the future with your DIY or Professional installation projects. We want you to be sure of that what you get from us are 100% facts, so please don’t hesitate to ask for advice or to advise us in return with accurate facts.

You may be interested in our other How To Utility Knife Guides:

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