Cutting veneered panels and melamines -- without a scoring blade

Avoiding chipping problems when cutting veneered panels and melamines. January 3, 2001

How do you cut veneered plywoods, melamine, etc without chipping problems? I do not own a tablesaw with a scoring blade.

Forum Responses
Some sawblade manufacturers make negative cut blades and high ATB to eliminate chips and fuzzy cuts. Try Leuco--they have a hollow or cup grind tooth blade that score-cuts well. FS Tooling has some good blades for this, too.

Try using a zero-clearance saw blade insert with a triple chip grind blade.

Stehle and F-S tool both have Hi-AT and hollow face blades which will solve your problem.

Tooling is an option but can get expensive with sharpening. I would use the cost of tooling to help make a monthly payment on an Altendorf saw. They have great machines and even a new model that has a great price point.

When I first started I couldn't afford a saw with scoring blade. Using a sharp fine tooth blade, I would score the bottom material first, then raise the blade and do a full pass. I only did this on components that you would see both sides of. It takes a little longer but has great results.

Forest makes a blade called the Duraline Hi-AT, that is great for melamine and veneer. Keep your blade low and go slow. A zero clearance insert will help for a while, but as the blade gets bound against work and flexes, it will wear more. Retrofit kits are available to put a scoring blade on a regular table saw. Also, if you are working with melamine, you can cut your piece big and joint it if your blade happens to be dull.

We donít have a panel saw but we process about 40-60 sheets of melamine a month with a 5 HP table saw and a Forest blade.

I have had good luck with my 80T Systematic alternate tooth bevel. I keep the blade at an optimal height and keep the blade sharpened. I get almost 3 jobs worth of clean cutting until re-sharpening is necessary. I tried the triple chip and got a good cut only through the first job. The triple chip was more expensive, cost more to re-sharpen and needed re-sharpening more often.

One other factor left out is the core of the material that you may be using. Melamines laid up on a pine/core particle board will cut much cleaner than a fir-hem/core. Plywood cores also have a tendency to splinter more easily than a pine/core particle board or MDF core.

We also have very good luck with SystiMatic blades. When you cut melamine, blade height seems to make a difference. Try different heights and feed rates until you find what works best for what you are cutting. We have a "junk" blade that we use when the good blades are being sharpened and we can get good results from it when we find the right height to cut at. This will hold true with plywoods.

In my shop, when cross cutting veneered plywood, I take a damp sponge and wipe across it where the blade will be cutting. This seems to soften the fibers and reduce chipping.