I have a low cost computer desk (from IKEA)and I am needing to trim a
little to fit into my new apartment. The material is 3/4" MDF with a
wood grained plastic laminate. I have a skill saw I want to use to cut
it. What kind of blade or process does anyone recommend to avoid
chipping the laminate.
On 21 Nov 2003, Michael Evaniuck spake unto rec.woodworking:
Get a fresh carbide-tipped general purpose blade, unless that's what
you've got already. Cut on the surface that shows the least - my skilsaw
tends to tear out the most on the side that I'm working on. You can try
scoring the laminate with a utility knife, but there's no guarantee you
won't get some chipout. Good luck!
When cutting with a circular saw, you want the good side down. However,
since this is an important cut, I suggest you do one of the following.
Put a layer of 3M blue tape over the cut line, or put double sided tape
over the cut line and adhere a piece of 1/4" thick material as a backer.
Use a new blade designed for smooth cutting with the most teeth to fit
your saw; better yet would be a melamine blade, but I don't know if they
make them for circular saws.
Placing the double sided tape and backer should give good results with a
less than ideal blade. DON'T WANDER FROM A STRAIGHT LINE CUT!! Good luck.
Michael Evaniuck wrote:
Buy an aluminum straightedge at Lowe's made just for that purpose. I
don't remember them being very expensive. It really helps on long cuts
when you don't have a table saw or just can't get it to/onto a
You could score the line and use a handsaw. My scroll saw is bolted to 3/4"
thick wood grained plastic laminate particle board. I needed to cut an inch
off when I re-disorganized my shop. Rather than unbolt the scroll saw to
use a power tool for the cut, I used a hand saw and was surprised by how
fast and easily it cut. MDF may cut even easier.
My handsaw is a cheapie and works fine for this. My neighbor had a phrase,
"2nd best K-Mart sells." ;-)
I think chipping the laminate is a given. You need to minimize it.
Since the saw cuts on the upstroke your best bet is to turn the desk
upside down and cut from the bottom. Make sure you transfer the cut line
to the bottom accurately.
Since what your cutting is a mass produced unit you don't have to feel
too bad about butchering it.
You'll have to round the upside corners somehow. If not the sharp edges
play hell with the wrists. So it needs rounded and smoothed after cutting.
A while ago a friend turned me on to a mass produced desk. I took the
SawZall and belt sander after it. Made a good prototype.
To your problem, I wouldn't worry about breakout because it needs
rounded off anyhow. Anyway you cut it your into sandpaper and a sander.
You understand, this could be the beginning of a sickness?
There are many ways to cut a laminated peice, some have been given, you can
cut laminate with absolutely no chipping
Some methods are to cut from the back side, with either a jigsaw or circular
saw, you can straighten the cut with a block plane, or sandpaper on a block
If you want to have an absolute clean cut then cut it with a jig saw approx
1/4" big, clamp a board to it on the line and use a straight flush trim
router bit to cut the rest off.
You can get an excellent cut cutting laminate face up with a Bosch Jig saw,
set the orbital action lever so that there is none, use a Bosch blade # 101b
which is a 6tpi hollow ground blade, they have a 10 tpi hollow ground blade
beleive is 101d, then touch up the not so straight parts with a block plain
or use a block of wood with #80 sand paper wrapped around it.
Of course all the above is assuming that you have some of these tools.
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