Using A Shaper To Clean Melamine


From original questioner:

Right now I use a router set up with a offset fence to clean up the chipping on melamine. I'm thinking of using a shaper with power feed instead. What size shaper would I need? This would be dedicated to this use only. Would a 1 1/2hp shaper work? I'm getting sick of listening to routers scream and burning up from extended use.

From contributor JM

Not to sound harsh, but why not just use the appropriate SHARP blade and skip the router/shaper process all together?

A 10" 80T Hi-ATB blade should yield about 10 to 15 sheets before you start getting chipping on the bottom side, and probably another 20 sheets before you start getting chipping on the top face.

Or invest in a saw with a scoring blade, and you should get 40 or more sheets chip free on both faces.

From contributor mo

Not harsh at all. My normal cut day is between 2 and 3 units so a sharp blade doesn't last long. Cleaning the edges works for me now while I talk myself into a cnc router.

From contributor Mi

My first thought was along the lines of what JM said, but you are cutting a lot! I have a 1 1/2 hp grizzly shaper and I'm satisfied it would do fine for your application. I used to run raised panels on mine and it actually did pretty good so I think it is plenty heavy enough for what you want to do.

From contributor Je

I think the blades is still where to focus your attentions. I would hazard a guess it would be cheaper to stop cutting every several hours and change blades than to have to handle the panels twice. Cutting every part oversize and then re-sizing on a separate machine just seems like a lot more effort than stocking up on blades and swapping as needed.

As far as shapers go 1-1/2 hp in itself would probably be fine. However your probably only going to find that size motor on a small light duty machine. If your feeding 2-3 units worth of melamine through a light duty shaper on a daily basis, it's not going to last long. At that point you might as well move to a smaller industrial machine. Then buy yourself some insert tooling and your good to go.

My .02 cents for what they're worth!
good luck,

From contributor Mi

I do agree with Jeff about the blades. The more I think about it though, if you are going through that much material a cnc might be justified.

From contributor Ad

How long does the router bit last you be for it starts burning?

You could probably find a nice used vertical panel saw with a scoring blade.

From contributor Mi

Seems a litte ridiculous to be cutting up that much melamine and not be doing it right, no? If you get a cnc you will still need a shaper to clean cuts up if your not going to use the right bits or change them when they get dull.

From contributor mo

The router bits last I'd say 5-6 jobs and each job is about a unit. Same bit for cleaning and rabits. My way might be wrong for others but it works for me.

From contributor Da

Man, you have my respect for your output, but I gotta say you need to work smarter not harder. No disrespect, but you need to change your head! Adding or refining an unneeded step is not smarter. Eliminating a step is smarter.

The entire world - at least 98% of it - cuts melamine with a scoring blade or better technology (beam saws, etc). So there no chipped edges to deal with!! Quick change blade systems are a part of the better approach. They absolutely do not waste time trying to get more life from a throw away router bit or a better router. Or trying to figure what shaper to buy. They eliminate the need for that step buy not producing the chipped edges in the first place.

You are putting effort/energy into creating chipped edges. Unwittingly for sure, but they are there because you allow them to be there. You have accepted them.

Some people take comfort in how much pain they can endure. Some will argue that pain is part of the profession, but it does not need to be. You sound as if you are one that refuses to look up and realize that what are doing is not sustainable. Macho, for sure. But not professional, and not a smart way to go about things.

As always, I retreat into numbers: 2.5 units a day is 75 sheets (?). Each sheet makes 10 parts (?). Each part is about 10 l/f of edge that must be routed. 7500 l/f of edge at 20 fpm = 375 minutes is 6 hrs. Plus handling and I see 8 hrs a day. I assume you do other things every day - like making chipped edges, so something is not adding up.

Let's say you spend 4 hrs a day chasing chipped edges on a shaper or router. At $75/hr - a normal shop rate per man hour - that is $300 per day you now 'spend' on the process that you made the need for. That is $6,000 per month that you are now spending. Or wasting. That is - you are spending the money, you just are not capitalizing on that investment in time - you are not buying the equipment you need to put that operation behind you. I suggest you look up "capitalize' to see what it means in a business environment. You need to put your energy in a place that will pay off instead of just keep you in the same place - forever.

From contributor ca

Do what is comfortable. You have seen some cnc routers, and you are not ready if you are trying to talk yourself into one.

When we were cutting on our slider we were smashing through a lot like you and even with a scoring bade it was chipped up because we could not always get good pressure on the full sheet.

Mike Fuson mentioned what he has. Go with it or buy what you comfortable with and a power feeder and move on.

From contributor Ed

Hello, If you are taking panels straight to an edgebander you might consider getting one with a pre mill station.

From contributor Mi

Looks like in the world of technology that we live in today they would come up with a melamine that wouldn't chip?

From contributor mo

I know a cnc is in my future but I want to take my time and find the right machine that will fit all my current and future needs and work within my space and power supply. So I guess I'm more tying to talk myself out of making a quick uneducated decision.

I thought of getting a bander with premill but I just got my current bander last summer so don't want to upgrade yet.

From contributor Ge

I have used a shaper to rabbet melamine for backs. I think a small shaper will work but you need a good feeder and one with a belt rather than wheels would be best. Once the wheels get a little dust on them the piece can come away from the fence giving you inconsistent results.

I think like a lot of the others that it would be much more cost efficient to take the steps necessary to ensure you get a clean edge when you size he pieces rather than going through another process. Used sliders with scoring blades are a good and inexpensive option.

From contributor La

Best get educating yourself quickly! You are throwing $ away. There are lots of well made routers out there in the $80-120K price range. Add $15 K+- for auto load/unload. Maybe not full scale industrial but pretty good. There are cheap solutions too but at your cut rate you will need a better one to last. 15+ years ago our first router cost $85K and paid for itself in labor savings in 2 years.

From contributor Sc

Wow, I agree with what David said, labour is the most expensive thing in a shop. Try make less, not more.
Would you try to move a 1000 yards of gravel with a pick up truck?
I am not trying to be negative only trying to put more money in your jeans.
Look for a good used beam saw, you are cutting lots of material so it would pay for itself in no time. Secondly if you don't want to spend any money on equipment look at hiring your cutting out to another shop?
At the end of the day i guess you can do whatever works for you, but this is like going back to the horse and buggy era.

From contributor Mi

On rare occasions when I need to cut melamine, I don't use my shaper. I turn my saw blade around so that the blade is cutting with the heel edge of the teeth. This produces less impact on the laminate and therefore little or no chipping of the melamine. I do this with a regular carbide tipped saw blade that I purchased for cutting melamine laminate only.

From contributor Ma

I am going to have to strongly disagree with Mike. I was at Forrest Manufacturing picking up saw blades a while back and saw first hand what happens when you accidentally install a blade backwards.


High speed flying carbide can cause a lot of bodily damage. Unfortunately, I have some experience with this while the blade was running in the correct direction : ( . Thankfully it was nothing permanent, but it could have very easily been.


From contributor sc

You can pick up a good sliding table saw like a SCM for $ 5-8k. Get some good blades and scoring blades and you can cut melamine all day long with no chipping.

From contributor La

Mike: Very bad idea! It could easily produce carbide bullets.

From contributor La

Use MDF.