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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In an earlier thread today I mentioned that I have purchased my first sheet of MDF. I have a supply of face masks in my shop and am wondering if they would be satisfactory for use when cutting a small amount of MDF. By a small amount I mean just an occasional use of the material or do I need to buy an expensive respirator right from the the get go? I know that this is not a question that anybody really is anxious to take the responsibility of answering due to the health dangers involves. Maybe I should rephrase my inquiry. What do most of you folks that use MDF use to protect from the dust created when cutting MDF? If I were using a lot of this material on a regular basis, this would be a no brainer but since I am not using much of it, the questions seems to make sense.

Jerry
 

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Jerry, for what you're looking at the mask should work fine but be sure your DC is on when you're sawing and routing it. It's dusty stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Doug

Jerry, for what you're looking at the mask should work fine but be sure your DC is on when you're sawing and routing it. It's dusty stuff.
Doug,
O.K., now I have another problem and would like to see what you or others think of it. I will not attempt to cut the original 4' x 8' piece of material on the TS. What I do is to use the circular saw with a guide on these large sheets. Also, I don't get enough air flow on my TS for the DC to work very well. It does fine on the jointer, planer and the BS, but not on the TS as I said.

Right now my brother from Alaska is down visiting and working in the shop on his projects. I'm thinking that one of us can run the circular saw and the other one can manually hold the hose on the DC close to the saw and attempt to catch a portion of the dust. Won't know until we try it. Might be a good idea to do the cutting outside of the shop. Sure wish I had a DC system on the TS that worked from above the table. Right now I don't but I get along pretty well with ordinary hard wood, but the MDF has me a bit concerned right now.

By the way, we put the one inch blade on the BS for the first time, wow, what a saw.

Jerry
 

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What do most of you folks that use MDF use to protect from the dust created when cutting MDF? If I were using a lot of this material on a regular basis, this would be a no brainer but since I am not using much of it, the questions seems to make sense.
Hi Jerry

I've cut a fair bit of it in my working life and I used to machine the stuff by the tonne a few years back. My advice, either way, is the same; firstly (and this is a MUST) whenever possible try to connect the saw or router to a vacuum cleaner because fine dust from MDF machining will hang in the air for hours after cutting whilst a vacuum will kill the vast majority of it, secondly wear a mask - even a cheap paper throw-away mask is better than nothing so long as they fit (which is a problem if you are a beardie). The best "mask" is actually an air helmet, but for a few pieces that's completely OTT

BTW in answer to your second post, fine dust such as MDF is best handled with a high vacuum pressure device, such as a vacuum cleaner. In any case most so-called woodworking dust collectors are in reality nothing more than chip collectors because their filters are far too coarse to actually stop finer MDF particles from blowing straight back out into the shop through the filter material

Regards

Phil
 

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Good points Phil!

That is what I am running into.
I seem to be hyper sensitive to MDF. The stuff hangs around for days.
The typical dust collectors just dont work, so they sell you another gizmo to hang from the ceiling. So, you keep breathing it as the dust settles on everthing.
I seen photos of a shop where the dust collector was in a closet of its own, that area was fan vented to the outside.
I am going to try that approach.

Don
 

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I always cut the larger stuff out side with a circular saw and a straight edge. If I am routing something like raised panels(more than one or two) I will also take the router set up outside. If I am only doing a small cut I use a dust mask. I also use an air handler but that is to keep the rest of the shop clean
 

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MDF dust is extremely fine and irritating. I bought a battery operated mask with a built in fan behind the filter from Rockler some time ago. It works great, cuts the dust inhalation to zero and the positive air pressure keeps my glasses from fogging. I also have a pretty good dust collection system with a very fine (expensive) filter bag, but I am looking to move the bag outside into a ventilated enclosure. I also have a home made filter box hanging from the rafters, which removes most of the air from the shop in half an hour or so. For large amounts of MDF cutting, I prefer to go outdoors but still wear a surgical style dust mask. Straight edge works well for this. I no longer use a 7 1/4 circular saw because the torque always made it hard to keep tracking straight. Now use a 6 1/2 DeWalt 18 v saw for these cuts, much easier to keep precisely on track. The carcinogenic nature of sawdust is a big deal to me since I am a survivor of throat cancer. Believe me, you don't want to take a chance on that!
 

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I am still a strong believer in installing a simple chip/dust removal blower and vent it outside or install it outside in a nice looking little add on with a collection box. You still need some kind of catch can ahead of the blower. The advantage is increased unrestricted flow, lower HP unit to do the same amount of work, less dust in the shop, less noise, and probably less cost. You can use furnace filters to keep most of the dust inside the add on lean to.
 

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I always cut the larger stuff out side with a circular saw and a straight edge. If I am routing something like raised panels(more than one or two) I will also take the router set up outside. If I am only doing a small cut I use a dust mask. I also use an air handler but that is to keep the rest of the shop clean
AS my shop is small 12'x13', I do all of my 4'x8' sheet cutting outside, especially mdf. Safer and much cleaner. A mask is still necessary though as the mdf dust gets all over.
 
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