I'm making a Hanabi set out of laser cut MDF. When you laser MDF it has a burnt cut edge.

This can be sanded off, however the tiles are supposed to be indistinguishable from one side, and I'm concerned I'll introduce variation in the piece whilst sanding.

I'm wondering if I can just leave it there (it looks pretty nice!). I can also sand it lightly to get rid of loose burnt particles. In the long run will it slowly rub off, or is it fine as is? Also, if I decide to varnish or otherwise finish these tiles, will these edges cause problems?

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2 Answers 2


After light sanding, reinforce the flat black with a little black paint, then seal the entire block in a clear coat to make it more durable. Alternatively, replace the black with a coat of burnt umber colored paint to match the interior of the laser cut symbol (kanji?).

  • By light sanding you just mean rubbing it a few times so that the particles go away, yeah? It will still be black? What should I use for the coat? Nov 2, 2017 at 3:54
  • Yes, light sanding is just to get rid of any particles. If that sanding exposes any wood, (which would distinguish the tile from all others) you can correct it with a little paint. For a coating, I would recommend Polycrylic which is a tough water-based clear coat by Minwax. It comes in either matte or gloss. Really any clear coat will do as long as you apply it in multiple thin coats to avoid brush strokes. Nov 2, 2017 at 13:14
  • Thanks! For the burnt umber idea would I have have to sand completely or would it still work with light sanding? (I'm mostly considering using black because I may also paint the kanji itself green and orange) Nov 3, 2017 at 17:41
  • If you use a stain for the burn umber color, you will need to sand off the black. If you use an opaque paint, you should be able to leave the black underneath. Congrats on a beautiful project! Nov 3, 2017 at 18:05
  • Thanks! Yeah, the (opaque) paint arrived yesterday and I tried it out; it looks pretty good! (In case you're interested, here is what the fronts look like now: twitter.com/ManishEarth/status/927423843169214464 . Backs still look the same, I may paint them) Nov 6, 2017 at 19:22

Gently deburr the cut edges with 120 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of wood. Then rub down the entire piece of MDF with some walnut oil. When the oil has been absorbed, apply any wax based wooden floor treatment. When that is dry, buff it with a shoe brush.

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