MDF Best Feed Rate Plunge Rate and Depth Pass

Hey Everyone,
I am using a 1/8 2 flute downcut bit to thru cut 1/2 inch MDF can anyone give me the ideal setting to get this job done fast? I do not have the stiffening mod on my machine.I have done a ton of reasearch and cant seem to get a concrete answer.

Dewalt Number Setting?
Feed Rate?
Plunge Rate?
Depth Per Pass?

Any help on this topic would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks Robert!

i’ve gone as fast as 100-130 ipm @ .0625 depth (think i went as deep as .1 for one job without any real issue.)

my best advice… make a series of test. I generally start with some conservative numbers and have 8 cut paths setup as squares that get progressively more aggressive. It’s a mix of doc and feedrates to find that sweetspot. once you find it… then note it and move on.

I tried running at a 70 feed rate and the machine jammed up and there was a ton of chatter is there something I’m doing wrong?

I tried running at a 70 feed rate and the machine jammed up and there was a ton of chatter is there something I’m doing wrong?

What do you mean by jammed up?

is anything loose? can you move/rattle the carriage or other axis by hand. Until I reversed my screws and bolts to better secure the eccentric nuts my vwheels gave me problems all the time.

also, are you doing climb or conventional milling? Climb will cause chatter with this machine since it’s not rigid enough so make sure to use conventional.

Video can help us understand the issue better.

I’ve always used the stock MDF Setting in Easel, it’s always been quick enough for me. Mind you I’ve never really been in a hurry. Cutting any other material I like to mess around with the settings a bit.

40ipm is insanely slow, especially at the default doc.

i’m running a 3d carve right now and the roughing with 1/8" was at 135ipm. the DOC of first pass was a little over the diameter. no issues. Probably could have pushed it to 160.

my finishing pass is going at 180 ipm with no issue right now.

even at this speed, it’s a 3 hour job (1 for rough 2 for finish) at 40ipm… it would be around 8.5 hours for the finishing alone.

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Guess it all depends on what you are doing, Most of my MDF work is just tiny test pieces or prototyping. No 3d carving.

Perhaps OP should dial up ‘Flirtin WIth Disaster’ by Molly Hatchet while the carve runs? :laughing:

That is probably my theme song for carving, for sure!

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I carved through some 1/4" mdf before work this morning ;).

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what are you running for a speed on your spindle? thank you for the insight

Dewalt 611 always on setting 1.


I posted my rates to demonstrate what is possible…

RobertCanning has a point… I do recommend way faster only if your machine is tuned and you have any kinks worked out first. if your machine is solid and you know your toolpaths are good, then you should have no issues. To get to those speeds, i incrementally tested by setting up multiple toolpath test. it was a grid of 2 inch square profile paths. each column was a test at a certain DOC with different feed rates. the next column would be a different DOC than the first but the row would have the same feed rate as the previous. i would mark checks and x’s to find what failed and what passed.

from there, I proceeded with running jobs with passed settings along with tuning my machine in order to stabilize any issues. As a note, this was all run on an original Xcarve (the only modification was bolts vertically between the two x rails to give more rigidity). I now have upgraded the x rail and I run no less than 85ipm depending on curves. the more curves a part has, the slower i’ll run it. (probably don’t really need to, but it does concern me a bit for now… i suppose it’s from previous experiences when the wheels would loosen up and practically fly off)

Another note: this may make a few cringe… I have to admit, I cringe when I think this… but it gives me the courage to try to push my machine… I put it together… therefore, I can figure out how to fix it when things go wrong. It sucks… but generally I discover a weakness that I can improve upon which makes future jobs that much more secured.

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for me with 30ipm I have loose steps in Z so all the time I try 25 ipm or less and I do not know if the plunge is too high

@Traxxtar what bit did you use to cut your 1/4 MDF?


Always use a straight-cut bit or a V-bit. MDF is very fibrous and you’ll end up pulling up the layers, etc. I don’t recommend a down-cut bit because the material doesn’t clear without a super strong vacuum dust collector and you’ll end up clogging up the traces and it might affect your carve.

There are different qualities of MDF and that might make a difference. I learned this when I was making a poker table and the warehouse didn’t have the “normal” quality MDF and ended up buying a higher quality which looks finer and smoother. My problem is with the insides of letters such on A’s or P’s flaking off when vcarving. I’ve tried to soak the MDF with sealer before cutting but does not change things.

I found I have to go VERY slow when carving smaller elements that leave behind interior levels. A, B, P, R, etc.