Cutting Melamine


Cutting melamine with a standard 60-tooth carbide blade in a tablesaw is not giving good results. Would it be asking too much of any blade not to chip the surface out on the bottom? Otherwise you have to make sure all the pieces you cut are done with the same surface facing down or one side will be quasi chip free and the other all chipped out.
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You could try a scoring cut (< 16th) for your first pass, then make the through cut. Taping the cut area can help, too. Tom
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Some things to try:
Pre-cut with the blade just high enough to score the bottom surface.
Put masking tape along the bottom surface to support the melamine.
Pre-score with a marking knife.
Cut 1/8 over size and use a router with a straight bit and straightedge to do the final trim.
Also a "standard" blade isn't the right blade. Get a blade designed for laminates, like a 80 or 100 tooth with a negative rake triple chip.
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On 13 Jan 2006 15:45:11 -0800, " snipped-for-privacy@aol.com"

You can either score it with a scoring pass or use a sacrificial board underneath of it when you pass it through the saw.
Both will work.
The second one works better.
Make sure that you figure out a way to keep the boards tight.
I like hand pressure.
Tom Watson - WoodDorker
tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet (real email)
http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1 /
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wrote:

The sacrificial board is an idea I haven't heard before. It sounds like a real gem. The concept makes so much sense, I'm surprised I haven't heard it before.
Will el' cheapo MDF do the trick?
Thanks, Barry
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

One other thing to try is to set the blade so it *only just* makes it through - by less than a mm. That way the tips of the teeth are running along the surface (from the underneath) instead of up through it.
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Get a blade designed for cutting melamine.
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I've seen this one in action. Amazing results:
http://www.forrestblades.com/hiat.htm
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On Sat, 14 Jan 2006 01:07:58 GMT, Lobby Dosser

My reaction too.
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Freud makes a blade specifically for cutting melamine. That, plus a zero-clearance insert, is all you need to make perfect cuts.
--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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There is a special module for cutting melamine: http://www.general.ca/pagemach/acces_g/saw.html
S.B.

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There are special blades for melamine, but one of the MOST important things you can do to minimize/eliminate chipset out is to use a zero clearnance insert. You can also score the cutline with a utility knife to reduce any futher chipout, and a strip of masking tape over the cutline can also help
John
On 13 Jan 2006 15:45:11 -0800, " snipped-for-privacy@aol.com"

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Thanks for all the replies. I've been trying to do some speedy production work, so although the methods requiring scoring and tape and sacrificial boards are probably effective, the special blade will probably be the way to go. The Forrest blade seemed a little pricey (if the customers had a bigger budget I wouldn't be using melamine) so I'm going to try Amana and maybe some others.
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Out of curiosity, what are you making? Do you need two good sides to the cut? For example, if you are making boxes for kitchen cabinets that have face frames you really only need one good side...
What got me thinking about your situation is a discussion I had recently with a relative (by marriage) who owns a cabinet shop. Almost all his work is commercial and much of it with laminates (e.g., hundreds of bathrooms in hotel rooms). I was talking to him about his Altendorf computerized sliding table saw's scoring blade and he told me that he pretty much stopped using it. He stopped using it to save time and the maintenance expenses related to using it... he only needs one good side. Food for thought for sure!
John
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One of my customers is a company that needs enclosures for air purifier units, and the other is a real estate management company that wanted some radiator covers for apartments. Improving the quality is a must. Cutting smoothly on both sides is desirable because it eliminates the potential for mistakes, if nothing else. But the blade I've been using even chips a little on the good side, so anything would be an improvement.
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If you are going to do a lot of this kind of work the scoring blade unit for a cabinet saw is probably worth buying... My relative told me he was sorry he didn't buy the Altendorf computerized sliding saw (about $25k) and the big edge banding machine (don't recall what brand it is) sooner. Having them lets him take on big laminate jobs profitably and when he needs two good sides on the melamine he has the scoring blade available at the push of a button (after initial alignment with the main blade of course!).
In the short run the special laminate blades offered by companies like Freud and Forrest should suffice nicely... That's the way I'd go for any laminate projects I did (like shop cabinets). I do so little with laminates that having the scoring blade would be tough to justify at retail. Though, I did try to get the Jet cabinet saw unit that was on the shelf at the local Woodworker's Warehouse when they went out of business... someone beat me to it. The clearance prices were so low that I upgraded to a Jet cabinet saw, bigger dust collector, lots of shaper cutters, etc. I knew I'd get the stuff sooner or later so I just bought it. ;~)
John
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My shop orders are very small potatoes indeed, so I wouldn't invest much in equipment right now. The rest of what I do is automotive woodworking and the occasional piece of furniture.
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