Solutions for Chipping Melamine

Melamine chips when you cut it, but the problem can be prevented or at least minimized. November 10, 2006

I'm using an 80 tooth triple chip 14" blade. The blade cuts great for the first 5 or so sheets. Then I get chipping. I'm using 3/4 particle core melamine. Any suggestions on why I might be getting the chipping?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor D:
It is the nature of the material. The only thing to correct it is to use a saw with a score blade.

From contributor L:
The main thing to look at when cutting melamine is the height of the saw blade. It can't be too high or too low and get a good cut on top and bottom. I use a 10" HI AT blade when I cut my mel and use a Unisaw. I usually put the blade up about 1/4"-3/8" above the mel and get good consistent cuts above and below. When the blade is new, my underneath cuts are better than my on-top cuts. As the blade wears, the bottom will start to chip. Contributor D is correct in saying that if you want perfect non-chipped cuts in mel, you will need some sort of a scoring system. And even then, it won't be perfect.

From contributor M:
I have scoring and set my main blade to 1.7" for 3/4 material. You also might want to look at a melamine blade. The geometry is different. There are lots of different theories on this, but a negative hook seems to work good. Some say ATB, but the tips seem to wear quickly. Triple chip is an option. I can cut about 20 sheets before my blade needs to be sharpened.

From contributor P:
High-ATB (FS #6301 is my personal fave) 96-tooth, negative or zero-hook. With proper sharpening, I don't need to use my scorer, and I'll get 30-40 sheets cut before resharpening. Check splitter alignment with the main blade, too! I was having a terrible time getting clean cuts, and after checking everything else, of course, cleaned a little bit of sawdust that was holding the splitter out of parallel with the blade - problem solved!

From contributor E:
Whatever blade you use, a slow feed really helps (unless you have a plastics blade and a scoring unit on a slider). If the chips are small, you can cheat them away with a little sanding after edge tape. Laminate edge will not hide the chips. The material is what it is - cheap.

From contributor Y:
You might try several different brands of board; some cut better than others. You didn't say if your saw had a scoring unit. If you don't, you will have to change blades often, even with HI- ATB blades that claim to solve the problem. We cut with a Schelling beam saw and will run about 30 hr of cutting before sending the blades in to Leuco for sharpening. A CNC router will cut most melamine very well and you can get pre-milling on your edge bander that removes a small amount of the board to get a near perfect edge for banding. Our router will cut about 80 sheets before we change out the compression spiral bit. That makes the tooling cost on the router cheaper than the panel saw!

From contributor A:
A couple of other things to consider: if the blade is out of balance or not running 100% true to the fence, this will cause chip out. Before running melamine, I always put an indicator on my saw blade to make sure that I have perfect alignment. Checking alignment this often probably isn't necessary if you have a good saw, but if you are running an old P.O.S. like I am, then it is a must.

From contributor I:
It's not always your machinery or blades. Some melamine cuts better than others. I have used every high-volume board supplier on the east coast, and we have stopped doing business with a few of them over the years due to inconsistent board. This is not out of the ordinary. I have had great success with GP and IP. Has anyone tried Funder? Well, don't. Every board chips bad.

From contributor G:
I spent a lot of money in fancy saw blades, sharpening and everything that the industry can give us until one of my neighbors told me that he owned one of those new zero inserts. He said that it works excellent, so I bought one and a regular 60 teeth saw blade and my problem was solved.

From contributor T:
I am a one man shop that very seldom uses melamine. I did a project once where it chipped horribly. I was able to salvage it with my router, a straight edge and a flush trim router bit. I know this isn't a long term solution, but I thought I would throw it out in case you're in a bind for getting clean cuts.

From contributor H:
It would help to know what type of saw you are using - slider, table, panel or beam saw? We use a 16" FS ATB negative hook blade on our upright beam saw and cut a lot of melamine with it. Not sure what type of parts you are cutting, either. Do you need chip free on both sides for all of your parts? Chances are you don't, except for shelves and partitions. We cut everything on our saw 2 sheets thick and have had very good results with the 2 mating surfaces. There is no way it can chip with the sheets stacked together in a book. We can easily cut a unit or 2 this way. Yes, it is chipping out the other 2 surfaces, but we put them to the outside of the cabinet with the clean cuts inside, with frameless applied end construction. We cut all of our shelves and partitions on our F-45 slider with scoring.

From contributor J:
The earlier post that recommended the FS blade is accurate. I just completed a job that was 40 sheets and it did great. I used melamine on MDF. The cost is a little more, but it cuts cleaner than melamine on particleboard.

From contributor Z:
I agree with contributor G. I have a $500 Ridgid 3650 table saw and I installed that zero insert from Panel Tools and it cut all kinds of melamine with 100% clean cuts, just like top class saw machines.