Feeds and speeds for MDF and hardwoods?

I’m sure some of you are sick of this by now, but I’m still a n00b on some of this. Basically, I’m looking for some solid feedrate suggestions for both hogging MDF and hardwoods. I know not advisable to do more than 50% stepover, which is fine, but just flying by the seat of my pants, I seem get nervous with anything over 10 in/min. Starts making chattery noises, yet I see people running in the neighborhood of 60 in/min.

My spindle is the Dewalt 611 set as slow as it will go. Everything is tight and it has no problem churning through the material. It just gives me the heebejeebies when I go past 10 on rough cuts that are ~50% of my tool diameter. Yet, I know if I go too slow, I can rub it and burn it up that way too (though I’ve never smelled it at 10 in/min).

My roughing tool of choice is a standard (carbide if possible) router bit - either 1/4" or 1/8" depending on the application. I’d like to get a general ‘baseline’ feed rate for hogging MDF and also some hardwoods without stressing the machine, or burning up the bit. The hardwood in question is everything from oak to maple to cherry to purple heart.

Pro tips are appreciated!

MDF is notoriously hard on tools. The binders and even grit and dirt in the material dull blades quickly.

The default settings in Easel are a baseline to start with it. They have been tested to be safe in all possible scenarios. In many cases, you’ll find you can bump these up when you find a comfort zone with the materials and type of operations you are using.

Make sure you use respiratory protection. Some people have life threatening reactions to purple heart dust.

Must be different in the milling world because MDF is notoriously easy on shop tools.

Right out of the gate, I knew Easel wasn’t up to the tasks I wanted so I went straight into Fusion 360. I’ll see if I can crack it open and check things out in there.

Really? That’s interesting. Never heard that one before. Thanks for the tip!


oh yeah @JDM hit it right on the nose there!!

also with mdf you need to use solid carbide tools as HSS tools will burn and lose there edge very very quickly

mdf actually contains metal in it

sounds like you have that pretty squared away there

also like JDM suggested start at the feeds in Easel but mdf really does cut like butter with proper tools

a couple pro tips here for when you get a little more advanced

imo you dont need to use tabs in mdf especially 1/4" as the chips created when using the proper tool will hold the part just fine

imo run your tools at 18000 (setting 2 on router) and don’t be afraid to push them especially the 1/4" tools

imo conventional milling will work in most cases

imo use a down cut or compression tool where ever possible

imo don’t get it wet don’t even carve the word wet into it lol

imo mdf will swell with humidity and temp changes so always keep that in mind

imo mdf will suck air right through it and its not air tight material

imo check out ultra light weight mdf by a company called tupran if you want to save money on shipping products

For the hardwood

conventional and climb milling are both preferred just depends on the species

Pine: climb roughing conventional finishing
Cedar: conventional
Oak: conventional
Maple: conventional roughing climb finishing

hard and soft woods use different flute geometry than composite woods like mdf not the difference in these 2 pics

Hard/softwood tool low helix

Composite woods high helix

also pro tip for hard and soft woods alot of o-flute plastics tools work amazing because of there flute geometry

I hope that helps let me know if you have an more questions also check out this guide for learning about tools


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ahhhhh idk man I know production shops that do alot of mdf need to use PCD Diamond tooling because mdf is so abrasive on equipment

or where you just meaning that it cuts like butter when pushing it through a table saw or something?

in that case yeah same with the milling world lol

Thanks for the tips. I guess I’m just nervous about taking too big a chunk, burning up the bit, and ruining the tool and/or wood.