Cutting high pressure laminate or melamine

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I am making Norm's Router Station.( http://www.newyankee.com/getproduct3.cgi?813 ). The top has high pressure laminate (like melamine) bonded to it. The dimensions of the top are such that I would have had to buy a 4' x 8' sheet to have a single piece to bond to the top so instead I got two pieces 2' x 4'. I need to cut both sheets and here is my question.
I have searched the web and there seem to be two general approaches to cutting this stuff. One is to score it deeply on the back and then cut it with a jig saw maybe using masking tape to minimize the chip out. The second approach seems to be to do it with a table saw taking care to prevent the melamine from slipping under the fence (see http://www.cabinetmaking.com/laminate.htm ). I'd like some input from the readers on this group as to the way that has worked best for you.
TIA.
Dick Snyder
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Dick Snyder wrote:

Caveat: use a 40T or better saw blade
Another method that works seems a little weird but does the same thing as a scoring blade on a higher end tables saw. Set your saw blade a little over 1/32nd of an inch above the table top. Feed the material from the back towards the front of the saw table, making a very light scoring cut through the top kayer of the melamine/ high pressure laminate. Turn off the saw, raise the blade to your cutting height and feed the stock to the blade from the front like normal.
charlie b
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charlie b wrote:

SORRY! This SHOULD NOT be done on thin stuff like formica. It does work on 1/2" and 3/4" formica faced stuff and melamine. Read what I expected to read rather than what was actually there. Another Thinko (mental equivalent of a typo).
charlie b
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"Dick Snyder" Writes:

Don't even attempt to screw around with this one.
Find a cabinet refacing shop in your area that has an edge cutting machine for laminate.
Used to cut strips of laminate from a full sheet.
Basically, it uses a couple of rollers to break the material on a straight line.
No way in hell can you duplicate the cut it will make.
Go with a cold 12 pack, late in the afternoon.
You should be good to go.
HTH
Lew
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You can put the fence on a router and rip off pieces of edge very easily. Support the laminate on a sheet of plywood with the edge hanging over the side a quarter inch or so beyond the cut. If the edge strip is fairly wide set a 1x2 on the far side. It doesn't have to be pretty since you always make it long and trim to fit after you glue it down.
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Why not? I've cut high pressure laminate ("Formica") many times on a table saw with excellent results. I never felt like I was "screwing around" at all.
--
Jeff Thunder
Dept. of Mathematical Sciences
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writes:

Ditto here. I use a Freud laminate blade with stellar results. Cuts like butter. SH
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And here. Same blade, same results. I use an auxiliary fence of BB plywood clamped to the rip fence to keep the Formica from running underneath, and a featherboard clamped to the auxiliary to hold the stuff down during the cut, and it's just as smooth as silk.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek-at-milmac-dot-com)
Get a copy of my NEW AND IMPROVED TrollFilter for NewsProxy/Nfilter by sending email to autoresponder at filterinfo-at-milmac-dot-com You must use your REAL email address to get a response.
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I used to use a similiar method until I bought one of those 48" straight edge clamp dealies like norm uses. You clamp it to the fence and there is a channel that the laminate slides into. You gotta do a little math for setting your width but it sure works slick. SH
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Third approach: score it deeply on the *face* with a utility knife or carbide scoring tool, and snap it. Just like cutting glass, except that you bend it *up* toward the score instead of down away from it. This works best if you clamp a board across the laminate to use as your straightedge for scoring, then leave it clamped in place while you bend the sheet upward to make the snap. Wear ear protection. The snap is sudden and LOUD.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek-at-milmac-dot-com)
Get a copy of my NEW AND IMPROVED TrollFilter for NewsProxy/Nfilter by sending email to autoresponder at filterinfo-at-milmac-dot-com You must use your REAL email address to get a response.
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On Wed, 29 Sep 2004 20:06:23 -0400, "Dick Snyder"

I have been unsuccessful in cutting melamine covered particle board without chip-out, even with Freud's ulitimate melamine saw blade, tape etc.. When absolutely no chip out is essential, I cut about 1/8" oversize on the table saw and then trim it to size using a router with a straight bit and a straight-edge to guide the router.
If you mean high pressure laminate like Arborite or Formica, the same principle applies. I cut oversize on table saw, glue it on & then trim it using a bearing guided straight bit on the router.
Luigi Replace "nonet" with "yukonomics" for real email address www.yukonomics.ca/wooddorking/antifaq.html www.yukonomics.ca/wooddorking/humour.html
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Have you tried the backward-feed scoring cut charlie b described in his reply? In my experience, the results are very good.

I think this is standard operating procedure, though I get no chip-out when cutting high pressure laminate on a table saw.
--
Jeff Thunder
Dept. of Mathematical Sciences
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On 30 Sep 2004 15:31:16 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@myoffice.math.niu.edu (Jeffrey Thunder) scribbled:

Yes, very good but not perfect. Some very small chip-out on the top. Even better with Freud's "ultimate melamine saw blade". But, again, not perfect. Trimming with a router works perfectly though.

Actually, I cut oversize mainly to avoid errors in placing the laminate over the substrate. So I haven't really looked for chip-out. But don't make it too large as this can lead to very large chip-outs (DAMHIKT).
Luigi Replace "nonet" with "yukonomics" for real email address www.yukonomics.ca/wooddorking/antifaq.html www.yukonomics.ca/wooddorking/humour.html
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For about four bucks at HD you can buy an HPL scoring knife.
Using that knife, score the laminate on the TOP (i.e. the show side), using reasonable pressure, guided by a straightedge of some sort (I have found that applying my body weight to "clamp" a straight board to the laminate laying on the floor works well).
Then bend the waste side of the scored laminate toward you. This will take some effort, but it will eventually snap the off the waste piece with a bang. You will be surprised at how nice a "cut" you get.
/rick.

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I don't not think melamine is actually high pressure laminate. But any way I have had great success cutting both with a sharp TS blade, Forrest WWII actually, and also great success using a metal cutting blade in a jig saw. The tiny teeth cut very smoothly without chipping.
Better yet, glue it down and trim the excess with a flush trim router bit.
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Leon wrote:

Technically, high pressure decorative laminates (HPDL like Formica, Nevamar, Wilsonart, etc.) are made up of sheets of kraft paper and a decorative face that are bonded with resins under great pressure and then finished off with a layer of melamine.
Melamine, as generically referred to here/the wreck, is a man made panel stock finished with a layer of melamine on one or both faces.
One is used with/on both but neither is the same as the other.
Just in case anyone was wondering/paying attention/cares.
UA100
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So are we agreeing that melamine by it self is not HPDL, but just one part or ingredient of HPDL? But given you sescription, of sheets of kraft paper and a decorative face that are bonded with resins under great pressure and then finished off with a layer of melemine, is that melamine layer clear so that the decorative face can show through?

I always pictured it this way years ago up until I purchased it with out the wood material attached. Edge banding.

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Leon wrote:

I'm not sure, that we are agreeing that is.

We call that PVC.
UA100
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LOL... I was indicating the Melamine was not High pressure laminate. IIRC you indicated that Melamine was an ingrediant of High pressure laminate. I read that as I lerned something here but I was not wrong.

Really? This stuff I used for edge banding is real thin and looked exactly like the white Melamine. It was sold right beside the Melamine covered boards.

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Leon wrote:

That sounds like PVC. It's available in most nearly all the plastic laminate colors. Unless you've found something I've never seen I'd bet it's PVC.
UA100
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