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Old 09-15-2013, 06:12 PM   #1
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Cutting a melamine board


I need to cut a shelf that's melamine, basically a particle board. The shelf is wide 36" so I need to use a circular saw.

I have never used a circular saw on something that's not solid wood before, and I am wondering it it's going to end up with a clean cut or chipped edge.

Anything I should do specifically?

Should I duct tape the panel along the cut edge to minimize tearing?

I am going to clamp a straight edge down on both sides to glide the saw.
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Old 09-15-2013, 06:24 PM   #2
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You can get a blade just for cutting melamine.
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Old 09-15-2013, 09:26 PM   #3
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If you don't want to buy a specialized blade is a very fine tooth plywood blade. Whenever cutting material like this make sure the good side of the workpiece is facing down. Tape might help but not totally necessary, you would probably want to use masking tape instead of duct tape. Duct tape has too much adhesive that will gum-up the saw blade and cause overheating of the blade.
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Old 09-15-2013, 09:41 PM   #4
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A 36" melamine shelf is going to sag in no time if that's what your planning on.
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Old 09-16-2013, 01:04 PM   #5
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I have used some of the good tricks already mentioned with some success. I have also pre-scored the surface with a utility knife and straight edge. I have even tried a jointer on this material.

The best edge that I have ever achieved is by initially cutting a little strong, then using a router/straight edge/straight bit to bring to the final dimension. This works beautifully, but may be worth the effort only if you require a super sharp edge for jointing.
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Old 09-18-2013, 08:01 AM   #6
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I build cabinets and deal with this garbage all the time. OK it's not garbage but I find the edges chip by breathing on them. They make an fancy saw blade just for cutting melamine just to avoid the chipping. I believe the kerfs all face the same direction and the hook angle is reversed. Either way, they're close to $100 last time I looked into it.

Other times I've managed to get away with using a brand new saw blade in the highest tooth count you can get. After a handful of cuts though, the blade ever-so-slightly looses its sharpness. If you were cutting hardwoods you wouldn't even notice but the melamine will start to chip. I usually end up ripping down 49"x97" sheets and by the second sheet the chips start.

Anyway, since you're not buying a melamine blade to cut two shelves (hell, I won't even buy one and I do this professionally ha-ha), here's my "cabinet makers" trick. Bare with me as without a picture it's a little difficult to explain. I know i can post a picture through my iPhone app so i'll try after I post this.

anyway anyway... what you do it is, cut the boar. Then go find yourself a sanding block. A BLOCK not a sponge. If you don't have one simply take a small scrap piece of leftover melamine (say 3" wide x 6" long) or something to that size. Wrap a piece of 40 to 60 grit sandpaper around the block. Now on the cut edge that has "chips" swipe the sanding block on a 45 degree angle to the front edge and the face of the sheet. Basically by "chamfering" the edges ever so slightly, you blend out the chips. Yes it leaves a hair line strip of bare wood but 9.9 out of 10 times it looks a million times better than chipped melamine. Less noticeable...

Good Luck and let us know how it turns out!!!
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Old 09-18-2013, 08:11 AM   #7
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Cutting a melamine board-image-3028864400.jpg

Why is posting a pic through the iPhone app so frikken easy. I also like explaining things better with a drawing... As promised! Hope this helps.

Al C
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