Cutting Melamine Coated Particle Board

lronickJanuary 4, 2006

I'm making a small shelf out of that melamine-coated particle board that the home centers sell. It's going to need to be cut to fit on a bathroom wall with some angles and a cutout for a metal grab bar. It's roughly 36' long, with a depth that varies from about 24', tapering off to only 3 1/2' at the other end. Only the top will be visible, so I only need the top to be chip-free. There's a rough sketch of the shelf at the link below.

I'm concerned about chipping the melamine when I cut it, but since this is a one-off project, I'd rather not invest in an expensive saw blade for my table saw. I have a decent blade in there now (I forget the pitch, but it's one made for 'trim', so it's finer than the standard rip blade that comes with most saws). I also have a router, circular saw, and a jog saw available. Any suggestions for making the cuts with a minimum of chipping?

Here is a link that might be useful:

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Cut with the good side UP, so the blade is cutting down into the material. You will probably get some blow out on the back side but you said you only need one good side. Also I would raise the blade as high as it goes this will help with the top side cut. If you need both sides good, raise the blade a 1/16" of an inch above the saw table and run the panel through then raise the blade and cut as above. This may require removing the guard, so only do this if necessary. Typically a triple chip or a hollow ground balde is used. Carbide also.

If you don't want to use the table saw, then I would cut oversize with the circular saw, then clamp a straight edge and using the router with a double flute straight bit cut it to the proper size.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2006 at 7:25PM
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I do exactly what Tom wrote.

I raise the blade just above the saw table and make a grazing cut on the bottom face of the sheet, just deep enough to cut the veneer.

Then raise the blade and repeat the cut to go through the full thickness of the sheet.

It helps top have a tuned up table saw where the blade and fence are in alignment.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2006 at 6:03PM
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Useful tips!
When I replaced my kitchen counter I used my metal saw or jigsaw and then filed the edge. Could putting tape on the melamine over the designated cut first, help?

    Bookmark   February 3, 2006 at 4:46PM
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Probably not. Do as I wrote if you need two good sides on melamine panels. Also know there are several types of melamine panels. Thermofused (which is the best) and rolled melamine. Rolled melamine uses a heat activated adhesive on the back of a light weight paper. Thermo fused melamine actually melts the impregnated paper to the board. It can not delaminate as there is no glue line.
Have I sufficiently confused you ? :)

    Bookmark   February 3, 2006 at 5:51PM
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Ive used a 2 stage process w great success-- 1st make the cut w ordinary saw about 1/8-3/16" larger than final size, then take router w/ straight edge bit to trim down to correct size. Edge will be sharp and chip free.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2006 at 11:13AM
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In spite of my best efforts still got minor chipping. Is there a product on the market that would hide/disguise my inadequacies?
Rgds, Hank

    Bookmark   October 15, 2007 at 9:59AM
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Howdy Hanks:

To help hide the goof-ups

    Bookmark   October 15, 2007 at 9:28PM
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