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What's the \"Best\" material to use on a router???

Melamine
1
14%
plywood
3
43%
mdf
3
43%
 
Total votes: 7

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Mike Bowers
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Hey Machine Owners/Users

Postby Mike Bowers » Wed, Oct 18 2006, 7:13PM

What’s the easiest, the best performing material when using router joinery techniques? Info on wear & tear on bits per material used would be helpful too.
Mike
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Postby Michael S Murray » Thu, Oct 19 2006, 8:58AM

Thats a trick question Mike! I use prefinished domestic plywood interiors, cuts nice enough, and is beutiful.On the other hand you will get an occasional warped pc that will give you a problem or 2. Melamine on the other hand is flatter, cuts beutiful, holds a very sharp edge(ouch) and edgebands nicely right off the machine.BUT, I hate it for several reasons,(personal taste,heavy,very fine dust,etc.) I would say the end use and customer desire has the final say, it will all cut fine enough.
Sorry for the vague answer, but I dont know how to answer exactly..
Mike

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Postby Rob Davis » Thu, Oct 19 2006, 3:58PM

Mike, This is like asking a football fan if he likes offense or defense. There is no right answer and you need both to make a team! Our router runs all 3 materials. We like them all because that means we are generating value for the team! Biggest key we have learned to making things go smoothly on the router is tooling. Proper tooling and set up makes it all easy.
Our breakdown is like this:
50% MDF
30% Melamine
15% plywood
5% other (lumber, plastic, solid surface...)

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Postby Mike Bowers » Thu, Oct 19 2006, 9:44PM

OK, so what material doesn't kill the bits ? I know melamine dulls the hell out of the bits & the joints need extra hand work to make them fit better. Plywood & mel blind dadoes are kind of rough to work with. So how does the mdf fair against the others?
Mike
Last edited by Mike Bowers on Sat, Oct 21 2006, 11:16AM, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Forrest Chapman » Fri, Oct 20 2006, 8:24AM

Mike,

You should be getting clean cuts with any of the 3 if everything is setup correctly. As far as tool life that will vary but for the most part mdf will dull a carbide tool sooner than Mel. or ply which will dull at about the same rate. Mel. is going to where the bit in 1 spot where it cuts the paper surface so even when the bit is still relatively sharp it may start chiping the paper and have to be changed. I will use this bit for mdf to get further life before sharpening.

I guess to answer your original question I would have to say melamine is the ideal material because it is flat has consistant thickness and can be cut with good speed. If IPM and RPM are set up correct your tool life should be at least 100 sheets but I have gotten 200 sheets of 5x8x3/4.

Forrest

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Re:

Postby Mike Bowers » Fri, Oct 20 2006, 8:36AM

Forrest Chapman wrote:Mike,

You should be getting clean cuts with any of the 3 if everything is setup correctly. As far as tool life that will vary but for the most part
mdf will dull a carbide tool sooner than Mel
. or ply which will dull at about the same rate. Mel. is going to where the bit in 1 spot where it cuts the paper surface so even when the bit is still relatively sharp it may start chiping the paper and have to be changed. I will use this bit for mdf to get further life before sharpening.

I guess to answer your original question I would have to say melamine is the ideal material because it is flat has consistant thickness and can be cut with good speed. If IPM and RPM are set up correct your tool life should be at least 100 sheets but I have gotten 200 sheets of 5x8x3/4.

Forrest

I thought it was just the opposite. Thanks for the info.
Mike
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Postby Forrest Chapman » Fri, Oct 20 2006, 9:13AM

Mike,

It would be easy to assume this because mdf is so soft it will continue to cut fairly well even with a dull bit. Try cutting 10 sheets of mdf and then cut some mel. with the same bit.

Forrest

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Postby DanEpps » Fri, Oct 20 2006, 9:31AM

I don't have a router but I can say that MDF will quickly dull a table saw blade. All you gotta do is watch (and smell) for the smoke :wink:

I can see where melamine, having a particle substrate would not dull bits as quickly as MDF or plywood. I'm sure the glues combined with the cross grains in plywood wouldn't help to extend bit life any.

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Postby Robert Glenn » Sat, Oct 21 2006, 9:20AM

Mike

For us it’s all about throughput on the CNC this is Rule #1 in our shop, actually Rule # 2 if you consider safety as #1, lots of throughput is how we are paying for it. For that reason we focus on materials that go on and off quickly with few problems. We try to stay away from plywood because of the warp issue, not a good thing with a vacuum table. Between MDF and melamine we prefer melamine because the dust particles are larger and come out of the cut line better. MDF has a tendency to get compressed in the cut line by the “compression” bit and the vacuum has trouble pulling it out and consequently taking more time for cleanup between sheets and not consistent with Rule #1. MDF also seems to get through our cyclone and into the filter easier causing more down time to clean the system. So for us the focus is Melamine. We are installing material handling equipment to deal with the weight issue and EVERYBODY wears gloves to deal with the sharp edge issue.

Rob

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Re:

Postby Mike Bowers » Sat, Oct 21 2006, 9:36AM

Robert Glenn wrote:Mike

For us it’s all about throughput on the CNC this is Rule #1 in our shop, actually Rule # 2 if you consider safety as #1, lots of throughput is how we are paying for it. For that reason we focus on materials that go on and off quickly with few problems. We try to stay away from plywood because of the warp issue, not a good thing with a vacuum table. Between MDF and melamine we prefer melamine because the dust particles are larger and come out of the cut line better. MDF has a tendency to get compressed in the cut line by the “compression” bit and the vacuum has trouble pulling it out and consequently taking more time for cleanup between sheets and not consistent with Rule #1. MDF also seems to get through our cyclone and into the filter easier causing more down time to clean the system. So for us the focus is Melamine. We are installing material handling equipment to deal with the weight issue and EVERYBODY wears gloves to deal with the sharp edge issue.



Rob


Thank you Rob, the plywood warp issue is interesting. Has plywood ever popped out of place after making a few cuts? Or relieve the warp? I don't know were you're located, but if you're suppliers are selling the same garbage there selling here & they pass it off as A-1, yes, been there before :roll:
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Postby Mark Taylor » Sat, Oct 21 2006, 10:07AM

As much as I dislike the mdf...we've been setting up to cut mdf doors for our local paint-grade market.

Without question is will dull the tools quicker than any other material.

I've also found that a two flute upcut seems to be a better choice for the outline rather then a compression bit.

We've been buying both domestic birch and the imported china birch. We haven't had too much problem with warping in either product except for the 1/4\" china birch. The 1/4\" imported birch is significantly thinner then the domestic 1/4\" plywood. It's funny too, it seems like as long as it's a full sheet we don't have too much problem, but make that first cut into the sheet and any off fall within a day or two is worthless.

Does anyone have experience with 9 ply domestic? Our local suppliers don't stock it (only the china birch in 9 ply) and I haven't had an opportunity to see if it would be a better product, specifically for the frameless cabinets.

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Postby Joe Soto » Sat, Oct 21 2006, 10:39AM

Mike,
I usually build framed cabinets. I use mostly two sided prefinished domestic ply. It tends to be flatter than the imports. Also more consistent in thickness. I believe the finish on both sides make a difference. One sided board seams to warp more often. The edges curl up towards the finish side. Sure my cases have finished ends where they don't show, but they do look nice inside and out, top and bottom. On the open end I just \"skin\" them with 1/4\" to match the face or use raised panel ends. I use full dados for most of the joints.
For painted jobs mdf is the only way to go, cuts beautifully.
For commercial or laminate jobs, melamine with blind dados.
As far a bit life mdf is the worst, ply is the best, but bit quality makes a big difference. The Vortex brand Thermwood sent with the router are
great. I used a carbide bit from the home store the other day on some double refined mdf, six doors later it looked like I was cutting nails.
Joe

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Postby Rolf Bergstrom » Sat, Oct 21 2006, 12:14PM

My supplier carries both domestic 9 ply and import 13 ply in a few species and for the most part the domestic starts flat and stays flat, and the import starts warped and gets warpeder (no grammer checks please).
It may be more extreme here in the desert as I imagine the import stuff goes through huge climate changes in a short period of time. The stuff probably goes right from the mill to the boat before the glue has even cured and comes across the Pacific into L.A. and then ends up here without having a chance to climatize itself anywhere along the way. Going from high humidity to no humidity in a short period of time probably does no good. Might be better if it ends up in a place with higher humidity but all of this is just speculation.

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Re:

Postby Mike Bowers » Sat, Oct 21 2006, 12:31PM

Rolf Bergstrom wrote:My supplier carries both domestic 9 ply and import 13 ply in a few species and for the most part the domestic starts flat and stays flat, and the import starts warped and gets warpeder (no grammer checks please).
It may be more extreme here in the desert as I imagine the import stuff goes through huge climate changes in a short period of time. The stuff probably goes right from the mill to the boat before the glue has even cured and comes across the Pacific into L.A. and then ends up here without having a chance to climatize itself anywhere along the way. Going from high humidity to no humidity in a short period of time probably does no good. Might be
better if it ends up in a place with higher humidity
but all of this is just speculation.


We have I humidity here we have the same results with warpage.
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