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MDF - best way to cut

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
I will be building 4 columns out of 3/4" medium density fiberboard (MDF) to hold my dipole surround sound speakers. The columns are basically three sided boxes. I purchased the MDF at Home Depot a few days ago and they ripped all the pieces I need, so I have them all the proper width now.

As you can see by the attached drawing, I need to cut rectangular openings in the sides and front pieces. I also need to cut out smaller rectangles lower on the columns (not shown in drawing) for electrical boxes that will house duplex receptacles.

What is the best way to cut these out of the MDF? I had two ideas:

1. Clamp a straight piece of wood to use as a guide and use my jigsaw to make these straight cuts. I worry about getting a straight cut using a jigsaw in this manner. The worry is will the blade bend left or right during the cutting so I am creating a beveled edge across the 3/4" depth of the MDF

2. Use my jigsaw to rough cut each opening and then use a router with jig to finish the job. This is a lot more work and creates a lot more sawdust but if this is the suggested method I will do it


Columns.pdf 14.814453125k . file
post #2 of 8
Are you going to be covering your speaker openings with grill cloth? If so, the cut for the opening does not need to be perfect, since the cloth and whatever trim you use would cover that. Same with the outlet boxes.

If you are concerned that the cut outs for the speakers be perfect, then I would definitely use a router. You could also use a Roto-zip if you had one available. Just make sure your jig is set up appropriately.

I did something similar for my columns, and I wrapped the openings with grill cloth, then trimmed it out with oak casing (same casing I used on the doors, etc). I also used a jig saw to cut about 12 outlet box openings for the paneling I put in my rec room.
post #3 of 8
For the 4 x8 sheets I usually have HD or Lowes make some cuts for me to get it down to more manageable sizes. If I am going to rip it myself or make cuts that are too big for the table saw I clamp something down and use my skill saw.

It may be pretty tough with a jig saw.
post #4 of 8
Yes, a jig saw and a guide would give you a nice cut.

I would cut the entire column through, then build the speaker section in frame form (attaching the frames to the columns). Chances are, the speakers will be cover with framed grill cloth. If that is indeed the case, do you want them to protrude or fit flush with the columns? How do you plan on finishing them?
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
I will be covering the entire column with some type of cloth, probably either GOM or Dazian Expo cloth. None of the cuts will be visible. I already have the sheet ripped to width by Home Depot. This means the edges that will be joined to form the rectangular column are nice and straight already.

All I have to do is cut out:

Large rectangular opening in the top front of each column
Large rectangular opening in the left and right top portion of each column
Smaller rectangular opening at the bottom of each column on one side face for electrical boxes.

All of these cutouts can easily be seen in my drawing.

I will be mounting a shelf across the column from one side opening to another for the speaker to sit on. The shelf will be made of MDF. This can also be seen in my drawing.

As long as I can get a reasonably straight and flat cut with a jigsaw (using a straight edge as a guide) I will do that. If people who have done this type of work think I am better off rough cutting the opening with a jigsaw (maybe within a 1/4" of where the edge needs to be) and then use a router with a straight cut bit to finish the edge nearly perfect, I will do that.

I want to build the column using three pieces of MDF. As can be seen by my drawing each piece is 83" tall. The front is 14" wide and the two sides are 11.25" wide. I have pieces that are all the right length and width. All I have to do is cut out the openings for the speakers and electrical boxes and assemble three pieces into a finished column.

If there are easier methods, please let me know
post #6 of 8
For a real clean cut, use the jigsaw for the rough cut just off the line and a router to clean up the cut. You'd still need to use a chisel or a micro-plane to square up the inside corners. Don't think about it too much... "Git 'er done!"
post #7 of 8
If they are going to be covered in cloth, then just keep it simple. I marked the outlines in pencil and free-handed the cuts with a jigsaw. They look fine.
post #8 of 8
Yep, jig-saw here. Just used a large drill bit first, then went to town with the jigsaw.

MDF is some nasty stuff, wear a breathing mask...

Couple pics of my columns:

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