How to Cut MDF Board by Hand

September 4, 2021

You may be taken aback upon hearing this question, “How to cut MDF board by hand?” After all, we are already in the 21st Century, and contemporary woodworkers are no longer inclined to cut MDF board using an ordinary handsaw. Yet, if you happen to visit a third-world country, you will still see many woodworkers cutting MDF boards and other materials using a handsaw. 

Of course, there will be instances when you need to cut the MDF board by hand, especially if you don’t have access to the power tools such as table saw, circular saw and jigsaw. But can you really cut MDF board by hand and end up with a quality cut?

I believe the answer is a categorical “Yes!” But cutting the MDF board using a handsaw would be enervating. Moreover, in modern woodworking, cutting it by hand seems preposterous given the availability of power tools. Yet, if you are bent on cutting it by hand, it will surely help if you know the necessary steps in cutting MDF by hand.

Steps To Cut or Saw MDF Board by Hand

It isn’t easy to make a straight cut on the MDF board, especially if you are doing it by hand. Your saw will more likely veer away from the cut line. Yet, if you follow the following simple steps, you would indeed end with a straight cut on the MDF board:

Step 1: Select a Suitable Hand Saw For Cutting MDF Material

Every excellent woodworker needs to select a quality saw when cutting MDF board. If you don’t have a quality hand saw, you can buy one. Remember that when cutting MDF board, it will be good to start with a quality saw. The teeth of the blade should be sharp, and the hand saw should have a thin kerf. Moreover, the hand saw should have a higher TPI.

Step 2: Mark Your Cut Line 

The succeeding step you must do is to make a straight cut line that is highly visible. You can use a small square to make sure that you delineate the cut line well, perpendicular to the board’s long side. 

Step 3: Clamp a Straight Edge

Before you cut, you should get a straight edge and clamp it. A straight edge is a device or tool that you can use for drawing straight lines. You can also use it for checking the straightness of your cut line. Moreover, it usually features spaced markings (equal) along its length. 

You can then clamp the straight edge to the board next to the cut line. You can also use two clamps to ensure that it will not move. Afterward, secure the board likewise to the workbench using clamps. Ensure that the clamps will not get in the way when cutting. This straight edge will serve as your guide when cutting.  

As you cut, you might end up cutting along the edge of the straight edge. So, it will be wise to use something that you can do away with, something expendable.

Step 4: Score the Cut

If you want to ensure that the MDF board will not splinter or chip, you can score the cut line to help the blade’s teeth cut the MDF board’s surface layer easier. You can use a shard-edged knife for this scoring. Drag it along the straight edge a few times to create a shallow cut along the cut line.

Step 5: Start the Cutting 

After scoring the cut line, you can then start cutting the MDF board. Start with a high angle to let the saw blade’s teeth in the groove. Slowly bring the cut angle down until you cut through the width of the board. Start a groove that the blade’s teeth can follow.

Cut in synchrony along the cutline. Start moving the blade in a backward and forward motion. In this way, you can make a groove quickly. 

Gently push and pull the saw blade against your straight edge. Let the straight edge guide your saw blade a bit. Then, continue to cut along the cut line. Ensure that the saw blade brushes up against your straight edge to ensure that you are cutting straight. You can increase the blade’s angle to speed up your cut. 

Step 6: Complete the Cut

You should continue cutting straight until you are halfway through the board. Ensure that the board’s free end is well supported so it will not break off. You need to ensure that you cleanly end the cut. 

Afterward, continue to cut until you complete the cut. The cut end should be clean. If you fail to clear the end, you should adjust your cutting technique to improve your cut next time. You can sand the edge of the MDF board to smoothen it. 


When cutting MDF by hand, you need essential tools like a good hand saw, straight edge, scoring knife, pencil, clamps, and sandpaper. It will help if you are patient when cutting, for if you get impatient, you may force the issue and end up with a bad cut. Moreover, you should go for a higher TPI saw blade to ensure a fine cut on the MDF board. 

You should also not forget your safety and should follow the safety protocols when cutting. Wear your safety glasses and hand gloves. Keep your hands off the teeth of the saw. Moreover, if you don’t want to inhale sawdust accidentally, it will indeed help if you wear a mask. Ensure you’re always on the safe side when doing woodworking. After all, your well-being is paramount to other things.

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