HDPE Wasteboard question

I’m looking to replace my MDF wasteboard with HDPE. HDPE is more physically stable and I hate milling MDF, it makes a mess.

Looking at vendors for HDPE there’s a number of different types, marine, food grade, natural (whatever that means). Obviously I don’t need a marine grade, but food grade seems to be the cheapest. Would that work for my wasteboard? Are there certain types that are recommended?

Yes, it works — I did this early on for my Shapeoko 3 — it’s a bit slippery, so makes workholding a bit more challenging, but that’s the only notable drawback.

I think any of them would work fine for the purpose. I couldn’t tell you what the explicit differences are between product lines. Food grade generally indicates that it’s less likely to leach BPA’s ect into food, not of much of a concern with HDPE anyway. Some products have differing densities, for instance some are air entrained to save weight. HDPE is essentially sold by weight, so a lower density product will generally be cheaper.

HDPE is great stuff, but kind of expensive. A sizable chunk of .75” is costly. It isn’t exactly stable, it does warp, expand, and contract. Temperature and/or stress relief. Certainly superior to MDF for something that isn’t immediately disposable.


Thanks for that information. I’m using tape and superglue to hold my work so I think I’ll be okay in that respect.

I use HDPE work surface on my small machines, and phenolic on my large. I use HDPE for most all of my non critical multi use fixtures. As for tape work holding methods, the HDPE is far superior to MDF.

I primarily cut plastics. I prefer my work surfaces generally match the material to be cut.

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I updated my 3XXL to an aluminum extrusion base with an HDPE spoil board. This has been a great upgrade, not having to worry about coolant/oil spills on MDF or resurfacing frequently while chasing the seasonal humidity swings. It stays flat, I mostly use tape and glue but I transferred my threaded inserts from my original MDF spoil board. Here’s a little blue tape “porn”, didn’t even nick the top layer of tape. the slight onion skin is where the glue was a bit more generous. its a 24x14 front panel for a shop air filter. I picked up my material from a commercial bathroom contractor. The material was to be fabricated into high end bathroom stall dividers but didn’t meet the customer’s approval for color. It was silver/grey which mostly came off during surfacing the dark grey is rather nice. They sold it cheap to get their warehouse space back. The duck clamps are made from a stall door that was rejected due to warping (free material :grinning:). I was able to get a bunch of offcuts and scraps. I visit them periodically now to see what I can save from being thrown in the dumpster.


Will this work for surfacing HDPE?

Yes, I use the Whiteside surfacing bit I had purchase for the MDF spoil board and it works great.