Machining of MDF: Flowers

posted in: Machining Projects | 6

As I said in other posts about cutting wood, this operation produces very interesting pieces. But one of the most affordable and easy to get, and homogeneous in structure materials is MDF. It is also true that is denser than wood, but being a pressed material, it does not have the disadvantages of wood, no streaks, no knots, no fiber direction … It is ideal for machining a large variety of things.

My wife has asked me a few decorative pieces for his craft blog, and I thought geometries of flowers, made ​​in MDF, which will help me a lot to start learning techniques like cutting and machining MDF.

These are the geometries that I got, and I programmed the Vectric Aspire machining. In another post I will discuss how to program a simple machining program, which look very useful and easy to do these little things.

flor 01 flor 02

For the machining of the first flower, I have scheduled a first roughing (mill diameter 10mm, two lips, tool tungsten carbide), a contoured (tool diameter 8mm and one lip-speed steel) and finally a finishing pass with a spherical cutter (diameter 4.5mm, HSS).


First impressions with machining: Despite having set the feed rate in 400mm/min (relatively low for what I can do) the tool produces a white smoke and smells like burnt MDF. I try to adjust the speed of rotation of the cutter, but I can not cut that well.


In these pictures we see that the machining produces a lot of burrs. From what I’ve read, the fact that the tool helical teeth can produce this kind of effect in the cut. But of course, I’ll let finish machining.


The next phase is the tool with a contoured lip. The cut looks much better than before, though still making smoke … I begin to suspect that the tools are not adequate, and the cutting conditions should not be suitable for these tools and this material … but I have to learn . This is a video of the finishing pass:

And this is the result, after almost 45 minutes of finishing pass.


The result was not bad, although the roughing passes have been somewhat precarious. And the surface finish has left a “fluff”, I guess because of the quality of the spherical cutter.

For another flower, as single lip tool has given better results than the two lips, I decided to try one with that tool both roughing and contouring. So we will see that this result gives:


Interestingly white smoke still rises, and when the tool diameter to cut across the the time, it shows that the movement is feeble. Something has happened that is cutting badly. In fact for contouring I changed to another tool that I have two lips diameter 6 because I do not like machining. Since I had started, I decided to finish it, and this was the result:


Not bad at all. A finish similar to the previous, but I do not think that every time you need something machined MDF is so … complicated. This was the aspect of the tools I used:

IMG_20140406_185916 IMG_20140406_185652

I think I’ve broken the edge of strawberries, should not be appropriate, so I’ll try something else:

For 7 € buy a kit of tools for wood Bricodépôt, specifically this kit:


And do not lose anything, I’ll try the tool 6mm straight cut to see how it cuts down the MDF. The problem with these tools is that they can not as a drill down vertically, it has no edge around its diameter. In fact, you can only 1.5mm down each time, that is what they have the blades to the cutter body:


They are inexpensive, so you can not ask for much. The fact is that simply cutting in a straight movement …. Incredible! Cuts perfectly! even at a very high speed!

This is the result of the machining of the star, awesome:

Conclusion for machining MDF, the best kind of tools are the tools of good quality, but straight teeth. High feed rates, depths and even high pass (I have also tried to blow 5mm) and revolutions around 20,000 rpm.


I know I have not discovered anything, and this is something that anyone who engages the professional machining has to know, but I do not anyone has taught me, and I have not found many tips on online tool types, speeds, etc. at least … nothing concrete, so I hope that at least this experience serve who have the same doubts that I had, and not have to be machined 3 piece to find out …

6 Responses

  1. Manuel

    Hola, como ya sabras, el material se quema porque igual tienes muchas revoluciones en giro de fresa y poco avance sobre el material.

    Como bien dices el MDF es papel presado y tal vez las las pelusas del acabado se deba a eso o las fresas perdieron el corte.

    Intenta la proxima vez con fresas de grabado de 30ª o 15ª de 0.5mm notaras la diferencia de acabado pero en proporción el aumento de tiempo que lleva realizarlo.

  2. Sebastian

    Hola amigo, yo corto mdf de 3mm (tres capas a la vez, es decir un total de 9mm de material) y utilizo fresas de 3mm de diametro de un corte y fresas de 3.175 (1/8″)mm de diametro de 2 cortes. El avance lo pongo en 750mm/m y el giro de la fresa de 15000 a 18000 rpm y me funciona perfectamente y lo hago en una sola pasada.
    Espero te sirva el dato. Un saludo.

    • ostervi

      Muchas gracias por vuestros consejos! El tema estaba en utilizar la herramienta adecuada. Con eso el mecanizado es increiblemente facil.