5 Tips for Cutting Melamine Board

The surface of a piece of melamine board.

Melamine board is a combination of plastics and formaldehyde that form a resin which is then pressed into a board (or other material). You can use melamine board for furniture, veneer, insulation material and a host of other potential uses. It is often glued on top of particleboard and cutting this material, with or without the particleboard, is more difficult than it seems. Improper technique will cause melamine board to splinter and chip at the edges. The article that follows will share with you some tips and tricks that will limit the probability that you will damage the melamine board.

Tight Lines

Before you start cutting melamine board it is imperative that you know where you are going to be cutting. Use a straight edge, pencil, and a measuring tape to mark your cut. Unlike other materials, you want to continue the line down both edges of the board. Adding the line along the edge will help you keep the board lined up correctly with the blade.

Prepare Your Table Saw

Obviously, the most important component to making a good cut in the melamine board is using a properly prepared table saw.

First of all, make sure you’re using the right tool. In order to cut melamine or laminate board, your saw needs to be equipped with a double-sided laminate/melamine blade. These blades are specifically designed to cut while minimizing chipping.

Have your table saw in its best condition possible before you go to make your cuts. You should get your table saw tuned up regularly anyway, to keep it in tip-top shape, but if you’re planning on a project using melamine, ensure that a tune-up has been done not long before.

If possible, use a zero-clearance throat plate on your machine.

Feed the Material as Smoothly as Possible

Another way to minimize chipping and splintering is to make sure you feed your material through the saw as smoothly as possible. To do this, make sure you have ample support for the board and the saw. Check that your saw is as stable and level as possible before proceeding to cut. In the event that your melamine is a very long piece, place another table behind or beside the saw to give the excess a place to rest as you cut.

On most amateur table saws, there can be an issue with drag as you’re cutting, and this can be one of the biggest problems when trying to produce a smooth cut with melamine. Rub the surface of your table with wax paper or use a top coat to reduce friction for a smoother feed.

Use Painters Tape

The vibration and torque generated by a table saw is enough to rip apart melamine board as well as particleboard. In order to prevent these materials from becoming damaged you need to decrease the vibration that is exerted on the board. Something as simple as two-inch wide painters tape will work.

After you've properly measured the board and drawn a cut line you will place the tape along that line. Make sure the tape is even and centered with the line meaning that one inch of painters tape should be on each side. Place the tape on the side of the board you wish to have facing out and smooth it out as you press it down. When you cut the melamine board you will do so on the reverse side.

Use a Backing

Melamine board is often thin and flimsy and trying to use a table or hand saw to cut it will wind up damaging the board. Particleboard is often used for furniture and as a base for a melamine board veneer. To cut the board without damaging it, affix it to particle board of the same size. Use clamps around the sides to secure it in place and then cut the board.