The top 3 “secrets” to achieving chip-free cuts in sheet goods
• The number one secret is to use the correct blade. For particleboard or MDF, it is suggested to use a triple chip grind blade with 80 teeth. Man-made materials can quickly dull saw blades. With a triple chip grind, the corners of every other tooth are chamfered at 45°. The teeth between are either flat top rakers or alternate top bevel teeth. Each chamfered tooth creates a rough center cut, which is then cleaned up by the rakers. Along with the correct blade, a zero clearance insert is recommended. The insert will provide a solid surface under and right up to the blade. This will give you a safer cut and because the wood fibers are fully supported, they are less likely to fray or tear out.
• Number two would have to be a properly tuned saw. Most importantly, your fence and miter slots in your saw must be aligned parallel to the blade. Your saw blade teeth should be raised so that half the carbide is showing over your stock. By using dust collection, you will deter debris from collecting around your saw teeth and obscuring your cut. A respirator is advised when cutting MDF due to the urea-formaldehyde resin content.
• Number three — on to the actual cuts. For many materials, scoring is one way to assure a good cut. If using thin material, stack cut using double face tape to secure the stock. Masking tape is a good way to keep fibers in place as the cut is being made, but be careful when peeling the tape off after cut.