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Thread: Anybody using MDF for test carves?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
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    Alberta, Canada
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    Default Anybody using MDF for test carves?

    Is anyone using MDF to makes "trial" carves before breaking out the "good wood"? I was using pine & poplar for the trial runs, but it's so hard to fine a piece that straight & true with no twist.

    I've sort of stayed away from MDF just because I hate the dust. Anybody using it? Anybody have a reason I shouldn't use it?

    (yes, I have a 2 hp, dual 4", 2-stage dust collection system)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
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    Wisconsin
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    I use it for tests and for projects.
    I don't have any data to support my claim, but I think MDF does have a tendency to dull bits a little quicker than some woods.
    That probably the biggest downside I can think of, but I still intend to keep using it.
    I like the stability of it, like you said no warps and twists.

    Justin Pierce, aka spalted
    *Pattern Editor (Probe) * Centerline * Dxf Import * STL Importer * Version 3 Standalone * Advanced 3D * Advanced 2D * Conforming Vectors * Rotary *C Machine *Rock Chuck

  3. #3
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    Dec 2019
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    Alberta, Canada
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    Thank you for the reply.
    I read somewhere on here that any wood with glue in it would dull the bits over time, I guess that's to be expected. I've never noticed MDF making blades go dull, but I know cedar takes the edge off my planer blades in fairly short order.

    How well does MDF finish in the CarveWright? Nice & smooth with no fuzz I would expect? I'm going to give it a try.

  4. #4
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    Northern Colorado
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    It does carve very well but as stated it is very dusty and good dust collection is a must.
    RingNeckBlues
    My patterns on the Depot
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    All patterns and projects that I share on the CarveWright forum are for your personal carving purpose. They are not to be shared, sold or posted on any other web site without permission from RingNeckBlues Designs.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Coeur D'Alene Idaho
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    Default

    I've used MDF a few times, the only drawback that I see is the dust. Some people also use styrofoam and I guess that also produces a lot of "dust"

  6. #6

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    I use MDF fairly often and have had no issues except I find the dust does tend to cake in the carve area, possibly my DC is not strong enough. I have also used rigid styroafoam and had no issues there as well.

  7. #7
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    I find mdf problematic to finish any time it’s machined not just in the Carvewright.
    The cut surfaces are hard to get the finish as smooth as the face of the sheet.
    Without going to industrial specialty primers I've had the best luck priming with an oil base primer and then sanding to get rid of the fuzzyness. But it still doesn't look like a tight grained hardwood like maple.
    I haven't done enough of it to really give you a good foolproof finishing process.

    Justin Pierce, aka spalted
    *Pattern Editor (Probe) * Centerline * Dxf Import * STL Importer * Version 3 Standalone * Advanced 3D * Advanced 2D * Conforming Vectors * Rotary *C Machine *Rock Chuck

  8. #8
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    Dec 2019
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    My experience is pretty limited. So far I've used pine, poplar, and birch. Haven't tried maple yet. The pine came out kinda ratty looking, for sure would take some detail sanding to make it presentable. The poplar was better, the birch a little better yet.
    Good (straight/flat) pine is hard to find around here. Lowe's used to carry "southern yellow pine" that was fantastic. It had kind of a waxy feel to it. They don't bring it in anymore. I may have to make a "wood run" down to Washington.

    Back to the MDF, Is it safe to use a shop vac to clean up the CW if I wait till the carve is over, the power shut off, and the memory card removed?

  9. #9
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    Northern Colorado
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lincoln96 View Post
    My experience is pretty limited. So far I've used pine, poplar, and birch. Haven't tried maple yet. The pine came out kinda ratty looking, for sure would take some detail sanding to make it presentable. The poplar was better, the birch a little better yet.
    Good (straight/flat) pine is hard to find around here. Lowe's used to carry "southern yellow pine" that was fantastic. It had kind of a waxy feel to it. They don't bring it in anymore. I may have to make a "wood run" down to Washington.

    Back to the MDF, Is it safe to use a shop vac to clean up the CW if I wait till the carve is over, the power shut off, and the memory card removed?

    What quality setting are you using when uploading the project to the card? Are you setting the bit optimization to best on your designs? The best and optimal settings on upload will give you the best results. Yes it is safe to vacuum out the machine if you have the power off and card out. How much moisture content does the wood have? The higher content the worse carve you will get.

    To help reduce any static discharge also ground yourself to the machine by touching the metal head with the other hand.
    RingNeckBlues
    My patterns on the Depot
    DC-INSERT It Just Sucks!

    Proven to out perform all others!
    Buy CarveWright
    Colorado FaceBook Users Group


    All patterns and projects that I share on the CarveWright forum are for your personal carving purpose. They are not to be shared, sold or posted on any other web site without permission from RingNeckBlues Designs.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    Location
    Alberta, Canada
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    Quote Originally Posted by fwharris View Post
    What quality setting are you using when uploading the project to the card? Are you setting the bit optimization to best on your designs? The best and optimal settings on upload will give you the best results. Yes it is safe to vacuum out the machine if you have the power off and card out. How much moisture content does the wood have? The higher content the worse carve you will get.

    To help reduce any static discharge also ground yourself to the machine by touching the metal head with the other hand.
    I haven't made any of my own designs yet. I'm just using patterns from the CW pattern depot at this point. The wood I use is dry, less than 10% moister. So far I've just been using the normal setting for quality, not best or optimal. I've also ran a wire from metal on the CW to metal on my dust system.

    Something that does have me scratching my head is the depth of cut. I want to cut through on a piece of 1.5" material using a long 1/8" carving bit. The program says no can do. I even reduced the thickness to 1.25 and get the same message. I thought the long 1/8" bit was good for up to 2"?

    Click image for larger version. 

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