How best to cut a piece of melamine shelving so it doesn't chip?

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Hello,
I have the need to cut a piece of melamine shelf into about 16-inch pieces. The shelf is six-feet long and 12-inches wide and it is a bit unruly for me to hold on the table saw by myself. So I figured I should make 18-inch wide piece with my circular saw then cut them down to final size on the table saw.
I have three questions:
1. I do not have a melamine blade on either saw. Do you think I can keep chipping to a minimum by running a piece of masking tape over the line I am cutting?
2. Which side is facing up for the circular saw?
3. Which side is facing up for the table saw?
Thanks! ray
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On 3/18/2012 7:02 AM, busbus wrote:

Ray, the masking tape isn't going to hurt, but probably won't help much either. You will get a good cut if the blade is fairly sharp. The chip out will be on the back of the cut. It is possible to use the table saw, set the blade VERY low to cut the bottom of the melamine, then raise the blade and make the usual cut. This will work if you have a good solid fence to allow duplicating the original cut line.
2. Good side up on the table saw 3. Good side down on the circular saw
So you don't need to ask again - You want the sharp teeth entering the good side, so the table saw will be driving the teeth down
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I don't recall ever cutting melamine, so I have a question, also. Would sawing it proud, then finishing the edges with a straight bit/ router produce a better job than using a saw?
Sonny
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On 3/18/2012 8:16 AM, Sonny wrote:

Melamine sheet goods will be bonded to something - particle board or MDF are typical. The raw edges will need some type of finish. There are heat bonded edging, t-mouldings, or paint finishes. Router bits will give clean edges.
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I don't need the cleanest edging as the edges will not be exposed. I am using the melamine as a base to some fly-tying benches and I have cut a rabbet about 5/16" deep around the side boards and the melamine will sit beneath and inside the side boards. I don't need a beautiful edge and I can live with a very small bit of chipping. That said, I could use the router table--I just thought the router might chip more.
Thanks
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On your table saw cuts you could score the cuts before making the through cuts. To do this set the blade height so that the teeth just cut through the surface of the melamine and then,without moving the fence, raise the blade and make the through cut. That should all but eliminate the chipping on the bottom of you table saw cuts.
John
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On Sunday, March 18, 2012 6:47:58 AM UTC-7, busbus wrote:

A router bit that does well in wood, might make fur in MDF (the cutter angles aren't ideal); if you use spiral solid carbide, the cut direction should push the melamine surface into its substrate (upcut spiral mounted upside down in a router table would pull the work DOWN, so should cut with melamine surface on top).
It is sometimes the case that adhesives and laminates gunk up a blade, so you'd want to inspect the cutter frequently and keep your brass brush and cleaner solutions handy.
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Sonny wrote:

Yes.
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Like he said. In my experience, a router is the only way to get a perfect edge on melamine without a scoring blade on your saw. Even the melamine blades have not given me perfect cuts. YMMV
Luigi
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"Luigi Zanasi" wrote in message wrote:

Like he said. In my experience, a router is the only way to get a perfect edge on melamine without a scoring blade on your saw. Even the melamine blades have not given me perfect cuts. YMMV
I have cut it quite successfully with a 50 tooth combo blade. Raise the blade about 1/16. Run the board threw the saw to score the melamine. Flip it over and score the other side. Raise the blade so it will just cut threw the thickness of the board. Cut again. The first cut does the same job as a scoring blade. Depending on how sharp the blade is, you may not have to score the second side. Just keep the scored side down. I scored the second side as I didn't have any extra and didn't want to take the chance. Probably overkill. Works well for plywood too.
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snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.et says...

<Slapping forehead> I've done that for melamine. Never occurred to me to do it for plywood.
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On 3/23/12 9:16 AM, J. Clarke wrote:

A fresh-to-the-blade zero clearance insert helps matters, as well.
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On 3/23/2012 9:59 AM, -MIKE- wrote:

I have a phenolic zero-clearance insert for my Unisaw (wouldn't have any other kind) that I periodically "refresh" by covering the top side of the blade opening with masking tape, then turning it upside down and filling the opening with epoxy. It beats spending $25 (or more) a pop for a fresh zero-clearance insert.
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On 3/23/12 11:27 AM, Steve Turner wrote:

You are such an ass. I get so sick of feeling like an idiot because you or Karl or Rob, etc. come in here and describe a simple, yet ingenious, technique that would save me a lot of effort and should've been obvious to my feeble mind.... yet you've waited so long to share such a gem. :-)
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On 3/23/2012 12:49 PM, -MIKE- wrote:

Well yeah, it should have been obvious so that's why I've never mentioned it. ;-) Hey, I've gotta hold back a little bit because my great ideas aren't infinite, and every once in a while I've gotta pop in here and act like I know what I'm talking about. :-)
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On 3/23/2012 2:06 PM, Steve Turner wrote:

Oh yeah, while we're on the topic: If you now (for whatever reason...) happen to have an extra phenolic zero-clearance insert, you can use my method to reset the openings, then use one insert for your thin-kerf blades and the other for your full-kerf blades. You're welcome. :-)
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On 3/23/12 2:14 PM, Steve Turner wrote:

I don't see why it wouldn't work on the plywood ones I make.
Jerk. :-p
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On 3/23/2012 9:27 AM, Steve Turner wrote:

Oh my...a woodworking topic and a really great idea all in the same message.
Shame on you for breaking the chain.
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On 3/23/2012 1:24 PM, Pat Barber wrote:

Don't worry, somebody else will epoxy that chain back together. :-)
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