Waste Board material

Hi-Probably been asked before, but the frame design topics have gotten quite large. I plan on building the standard (new) frame. The wiki calls out two sheets of plywood. Does anyone use particle board (or similar)?

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You really just need something the bit can easily cut. This would include plywood, MDF, foam board, OSB, or MDF.

I use a 3/4" x 4’ x 8’ sheet of MDF myself, but that’s probably overkill.

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Yes :grin:

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Thanks-I was thinking MDF as it seems more dimensionally stable than ply

MDF will dull the bit faster than ply.

for the wasteboard, you just need something to protect the frame from getting
cut (because it’s a pain to have to rebuild the frame because you’ve cut it too

@bee has a video where he shows cutting without a wasteboard, and as long as
your workpiece is rigid enough to stand on it’s own, and you don’t cut the parts
completely loose, and stay away from the frame components, this works just fine.

I would go with rigid foam instead of MDF, far cheaper and less wear on the

Both particle board and MDF have fillers like sand in them, so they will wear out tooling faster than plywood. However, in hobby applications I would argue that it’s not as big a deal since we’re not running our machines 8 hours a day, 6 days a week.

Do you mean this stuff?

I’ve never liked that idea because in my experience it dulled tools really quickly. I’ve made war-gaming terrain before from it and I pissed through knife blades just trying to shape it.

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speak for yourself lol :rofl:

I think he means something more like this stuff, although I cant find exactly what I wanted to link to. but the pink stuff posted, I believe is more dense and rigid then what @dlang is referring to. A simple expanded Styrofoam sheet that can be sliced easily with a razor. My local Lowes has 4x8 sheets in various thicknesses for about $10 each and even has pretty Mylar outer layers lol. My frame utilizes 3/4 MDF as well for the main waste board, but I use the Styrofoam to push thinner sheets out so they are flush with my frame to allow the sled its full travel. Works like a charm with no sign of undue wear.

If someone’s frame was rigid enough that they don’t need to utilize the help of a sheet of wood, then I would think a 2 inch thick (to be safe) expanded Styrofoam would be a great semi-permanent waste board. since all waste boards have the potential to not be permanent. Its cheap too!

I wish I had that much time to run my own machine.

Okay, that makes more sense than what I was thinking of. I was imagining just dulling tools out on the pink foam stuff, but I don’t have any experience working with the other stuff, so I have no place commenting on it’s effectiveness.

My main justification for the MDF is it was what I’ve been used to using for spoilboards and so far I haven’t needed to replace it, so I will keep using it for now.


This stuff comes1/4" thick, and is pretty cheap. A nice feature is that it can be compressed, so when screwing down the workpiece you can easily adjust the surface heights to surrounding apron when cutting close to the edges. The $50 bundle will last a loooong time.

Hope this helps!


So, when building the default frame will it make sense to use 1/2" mdf (or ply) for the main board and cover it with layer of one of the foam products? The default frame construction notes call for two sheets of ply…are we attaching one as more of a structural member and the other on top of it becomes more of the sacrificial waste board?

The new frame does not use the plywood as a structural component (the angled
boards hold things in place), so the plywood is just there to support the
workpiece. If you use a thick enough foam (1" or thicker), you probably don’t
need any wood behind it at all (unless you need something to screw to)

You might not need two, but having one piece of something more substantial than foam will make it easier to firmly attach smaller random pieces for cutting smaller projects. You’ll soon have a good supply of in between and around the outside of things you’ve cut, and making use of those is most satisfying :grin:. Who can start every project with a fresh sheet?

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I use OSB as my waste board. Its cheap and still rigid, easy to add random pieces to “skirt” smaller project pieces.


What is the best way to attach the foam board?

I used 1/2" MDF screwed to the frame (countersunk screws) which gives the frame strength and flatness then I put 3/16" Luann over that as my sacrificial layer. Luann is cheap, light and easy to replace.

Your link seems expired. Was this the stuff from Lowes? I don’t think I can get a sheet of 4x8 foam in my Jeep without damage, fanfold may fit.
Kingspan Insulation R-1 (Common: 0.25-in x 4-ft x 50-ft; Actual: 0.25-in x 4-ft x 50-ft) 1 Faced Polystyrene Foam Board Insulation

Is the Home Depot stuff the same?

FOAMULAR 1/4 in. x 4 ft. x 50 ft. R-1 Fanfold Rigid Foam Board Insulation Sheathing

I use the Owens Corning stuff from HD. The 50’ package is a lifetime supply for me, as I am still using my first 4 panel, 8’x4’ section. I am pretty sure the product from Lowe’s would work too.

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Did you say you used an electric screw driver? I’ve been manually drilling and countersinking deck screw’s in my initial test pieces but my countersinking tool is dull. When you use the electric tool, do you still have to predrill the holes and countersink? What size screws do you use?

Thank you!

To secure workpieces to my Maslow I use a Makita 18 volt rechargeable drill with heavy duty 1 5/8” wood screws with a combined phillips/#2 square bit head. The #2 square driver is fantastic, never slipping, and provides really good control of the screw depth. With plywood, no pilot holes or counter sinking is needed… the drill has enough power to drive the screw right through the plywood (not recommended, obviously). If you are cutting solid wood, then you would need both pilot holes and countersinking to avoid splitting.

My frame build includes a high-quality 8‘ x 4’ x 3/4” plywood backboard, which has sustained multiple screw attacks.

I find that thinner workpiece lumber is the most challenging to get flat, often requiring many screws around the perimeter, and sometimes a few in interior areas where no cuts will happen (hopefully). If the board is not flat, the cut depth will be inconsistent.

Before starting a cut, it is a good idea to go over the workpiece with a sanding block lightly to make sure all the screws are flush and that the surface is smooth. This practice will make the sled happy. Also, on a multi-pass cut, following the sled with a sanding block on the first pass to clean the up-cut “frizzlies” can’t hurt… the sled runs smoother, and the cut depth is more consistent.

Hope this helps!

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I feel outdated, last time I went to buy a drill bit at Home Depot, most of the bits were no longer round, as well as the drills.

So I Googled and is this what you are referring to: Screw Head - Quadrex.svg

The Phillips/square screw drive, also known as the Quadrex , Pozisquare screw drive, is a combination of the Phillips and Robertson screw drives. While a standard Phillips or Robertson tool can be used, there is also a dedicated tool for it that increases the surface area between the tool and the fastener so it can handle more torque.[52]

Who carries this type screw, I don’t see any at Home Depot, although their deck screws have their own special head, as they come with a special bit.

I have a Hitachi 3.6v cordless driver, guess that won’t have enough power.