If you are just getting into the world of carpentry or furniture making, then one of the materials that you may need to work with is hardboard, also known as high-density fiberboard. If you need a smooth and affordable building material that is also durable and quite water-resistant, then it is a great material to choose.
Now, with that being said, it is not the easiest of materials to cut as it does suffer from tear-out. What we are here to do today is to teach you exactly how to cut hardboard with a variety of tools. Let’s get right to it.
6 Best Ways to Cut Hardboard
What is important to note is that you can use a variety of tools to cut hardboard. There are some hand tools that you can use, as well as some power saws as well, so let’s take a look at all of the different tools that you may use for this task.
1. Using a Hand Saw
If you just need to make some basic crosscuts, then you can always go with a hand saw for cutting hardboard. Sure, using a hand saw is going to take a lot of skill in order to produce a very smooth cut, and it’s also going to take a little bit of time and muscle.
Therefore, using a handsaw is only recommended if you know what you are doing and you know exactly how to use a handsaw. Moreover, this technique is really only recommended for people who only need to cut a few pieces of hardboard, not for people who need to cut a lot of it.
2. Using a Circular Saw
If you plan on making straight cuts in hardboard, and you need to cut a whole lot of it, then one tool that you may want to use is the circular saw. Now, the circular saw is of course a very fast working tool, so it is convenient if you have a lot of hardboard that needs to be cut.
Moreover, a circular saw is ideal for making both rip cuts and cross cuts. As long as you are making straight cuts, then a circular saw is a great tool to use, particularly if you need a tool that you can take from one job site to the next as a circular saw is quite portable.
3. Using a Table Saw
If you need to make a whole lot of crosscuts and rip cuts, and you have a lot of hard board that needs to be processed, then a big table saw might be a better option. If you have excessively large pieces of hardboard that you need to cut, then a table saw is a great way to go because they can handle very large pieces.
Of course, a table saw is still only used for making straight cuts, not curved cuts, but as long as you are making straight cuts, a table saw will do just fine. Just remember that the table saw is not overly portable, so this is something that you want to use at home or in the shop.
4. Using a Jigsaw
Now, whereas all of the tools that we have talked about so far were used to make straight cuts such as rip cuts and crosscuts, the jigsaw is the best tool to use if you need to make curved cuts and if you need to cut patterns into the hardboard. In fact, for cutting curves and patterns, the jigsaw is really the only tool at your disposal.
Of course, using a jigsaw to cut curves and patterns does take a good deal of time and skill, but it’s still really the only good option that you have at your disposal.
5. Using a Miter Saw
If you need to make cross cuts or miter cuts, then a good option to consider is the miter saw. In fact, if you need to make miter cuts, or in other words if you need to make angled cross cuts or angled rip cuts, then the miter saw is really the only good option at your disposal.
A miter saw is, of course a really convenient tool, kind of like a table saw on steroids.
6. Using a Utility Knife
Going back to manual methods, you may also use a utility knife to cut hardboard. This is really only ideal if you have one or two pieces that you need to cut, and if you do not have any power tools on hand. With that being said, you can use a utility knife to continuously score a line into hardboard, and then eventually just snap it off.
How to Cut Hardboard
OK, so if you have a whole lot of hardboard that needs to be cut, then your best option is going to be to use a table saw, especially if you need to make repeated cuts. Therefore, how to cut a hardboard with a table saw is what we are going to teach you right now. Keep in mind that this method is ideal only for making straight cuts.
Step 1: Measure and Mark
The first thing that you need to do here is to measure where on the hardboard you will make your cut, and then use something like a pencil or any other marking utensil to mark the line that you will cut. Make sure to measure twice, because once you make the cut, that will be it.
Step 2: Prevent Tear Out
Because hardboard is built with a stack of fibers, it can suffer from chipping and tear out when being cut with a high-speed saw.
Therefore, to prevent this from happening, you want to get two pieces of plywood that are the same size as the piece of hardboard that you are cutting (the same size as the piece being cut to, not its original size).
Once you have laid the piece of hardboard on the table saw, you then want to place a piece of plywood underneath it and over top of it just to the line that is going to be cut. This will help prevent chipping and tear out from occurring.
Step 3: Setting the Fence
In order to get a perfectly straight cut and to make sure that it follows the line that you measured and marked in the first step, you now want to set the fence of the table saw to the right position. All you need to do is to turn the lever left or right in order to adjust the fence as needed. Once the fence had been adjusted, you are then essentially ready to make the cut.
Step 4: Make the Cut
All you need to do now is to turn the table saw on and to allow the blade to reach its full speed. Once the blade has reached its full speed, use a feather board or a push stick to push the hardboard through the blade of the table saw. Continue pushing the hardboard into the table saw blade until the cut has been completed.
Step 5: Finishing It Off
In case some chipping or tear out did happen while you were making your cut, now is the time where you would use some sandpaper to smooth things down.
Mistakes to Avoid, Tips & Tricks
While the above should give you a good idea of the process, below are some additional tips:
- When working with power saws and wood, always wear eye protection so that wood chips do not fly into your eyes.
- When using something like a table saw, it is a good idea to utilize a push stick to keep your fingers safe.
- Remember that for cutting hardboard it is best to use a carbide-tipped blade as you do need something that is very sharp and precise.
Now that you know what all of the different tools are that you can use to cut hardboard even make an informed decision on the matter. But with that being said, if you need to make many repeated cuts, then a good old table saw is going to be the tool of choice.