Laser cutting masonite

Try searching for MDF, which I think is a generic name for Masonite. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a number of postings about it.

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Yup, same thing.

MDF is different than Masonite or tempered hardboard. I’m not sure on the construction technique, but in color Masonite is a dark brown where MDF is more of a tan color. MDF takes paint better than Masonite and you can get it in thicknesses up to an inch. As far as I know you can only get Masonite in 1/8" or 1/4" sizes. MDF has a lot more expansion and contraction than Masonite does due to how the humidity is that day. I’ve also had Masonite de-laminate on me before while using it.

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No additional info, but here is a video showing someone cutting masonite with a laser:


Sorry, I meant to say that HDF is the same as Masonite.
That’s what I get for reading to fast.

Masonite is a trade name for HDF.

We’ve found that the ability to cut MDF/HDF varies by supplier. The stuff from the local Home Depot wouldn’t cut even with 10+ passes. Guessing it’s the binder used by the manufacturer. Stuff from our local hardwood/plywood supplier cuts wonderfully. I’d recommend sourcing a few samples and trying them out. A supplier that specializes in woods could also probably give you more info about what’s going into the material. Here’s a quick primer on glues which make a big difference when laser cutting plywoods/fiberboards.


Thanks for the information folks! This is a great help.

The Masonite I saw at the store was the type that was flat on both sides. I thought it would be great for doing small projects. Maybe I’ll pick up a piece and see how it holds up to just cutting and leaving around in the shop before I subject it to lasering

Thanks for that reference! That glue info makes a big difference in sourcing and the questions I’m going to ask to my vendors!

@joshferintino just a lil note, MDF goes all the way up to 2", and been told even 3". Not sure about the 3", but having dealt with 5x10s of 2", it gets bloody heavy

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I hate that stuff! It will kill your back


Why skin or mitre fold with 1/4 or 1/2 inch when you can just cut and paint 2"… one of many reasons I switched jobs

As @spike says, it varies tremendously by supplier. I bought some 0.2" MDF on sale two years ago that I couldn’t cut through - gave it to a friend with a 100w laser and he still couldn’t blast through it, no matter what the speed.

Other MDF and HDF cuts fine (although check the MSDS because the glue may be hazardous). Just depends on the supplier.


Worth noting that UK spec MDF contains some pretty nasty stuff including Formaldehyde.
I won’t have it in the house as it does tend to off-gas, even at RTP, so I certainly won’t be cutting it.

I saw at my local big-box store that they had some 4’x8’ sheets of 1/8" and 1/4" hardboard made by Georgia Pacific (the untempered variety which is what I understand a 40W laser could cut). I contacted them to find out if they used any adhesive’s during the process and this is the response I received.

It pertains to this product here.


Thanks for doing the research and posting the results!
With proper precautions (i.e. wear an organic vapor respirator, and use a filter on the exhaust) it should still be possible to cut safely. Better to avoid it if possible, but I think most press board/masonite is made with a Formaldehyde based glue. I know I can smell it when cutting the stuff with my table saw.


In the pics of my shop, the bench in the center of the room and the jewelers bench is 3", and the other tops are 3/4" of a product called Benolex. That 3" bench top weighs at least 300lbs.

The 3" stuff was used as a mount for large diesel engines in production facilities.
Heavy as stone, and hard to cut. That half circle cut out on the jewelers bench took me a Saturday afternoon with a jigsaw.
The smell is unmistakably Masonite.
When you could get it, it was very expensive.

For the 1/8" thicknesses of masonite, hard to find a tougher stronger wood source material.
@jkopel, I didn’t know that smell was formaldehyde :hushed:

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I have heard that it is not such a big deal in small quantities. I got somewhat sensitized working as a formica installer trimming with a router all day long. I still use masonite, but I wear an organic vapor respirator and that makes a big difference.


I guess I’m not surprised that is a constituent of Formica, stuff is hard, and the color is right. I have wondered about that material’s compatibility with a laser, cuz I got me some!

I’m replying to my own post because I didn’t want this to get lost in an edit, but I may still cut the untempered hardboard and use it as a pattern. I’ve heard that putting super glue on the edge makes it harder like tempered hardboard and thus more durable…and it soaks in so as not to add material to the pattern profile.


Using hardeners is a good point to make. Bookmarking for further investigation.