Melamine is a common household item. It is an affordable and sturdy material often used on furniture but when it comes to cutting it, it can be unforgiving. What can you use to cut melamine?
You can use a variety of saws to cut melamine. You can use a circular saw, a table saw, a miter saw, a Dremel tool, or a jigsaw. The saw needs to have a blade that has at least 80 carbide-tipped teeth and a slow feed rate to prevent the melamine from chipping or splintering.
Melamine is a durable material that can be used for a variety of household purposes. Cutting melamine does require some patience but the patience is well worth it. This article will discuss which saws are best to use when cutting melamine.
Can You Cut Melamine With a Circular Saw?
You have melamine you need to cut but you don’t have a table saw. Can you cut melamine with a circular saw?
You can cut melamine with a circular saw. Circular saws provide a more accurate cut. Use a circular saw with a blade that has a minimum of 80 teeth that are carbide-tipped, have a negative hook angle, hollow ground, and thin kerf.
Circular saws are a great tool for every DIYer. They are easy to use and can cut through almost anything. Table saws are the best for making long, straight cuts, but a circular saw is the next best option.
The blade is the most important feature of the circular saw. Here is a breakdown of the attributes you need in a circular saw blade.
Carbide is harder than steel. A saw blade that has carbide-tipped teeth will not only give a clean-cut but the blade will also last longer.
Hollow ground teeth have super sharp edges that have less than a 90-degree angle. They score the melamine before cutting it so that the material is not splintered or severely chipped.
Kerf is the width of the teeth. Using a blade with a thin kerf means you will have little space between each cut. This means less material is lost when you make the cut.
Negative Hook Angle
The negative hook angle will slow down how quickly the blade cuts through the melamine. This will give you more control over the blade, making a cleaner cut.
Can You Cut Melamine With a Hand Saw?
You need to cut down a piece of melamine but you only have a handsaw. Can you use a handsaw to cut melamine?
You can use a handsaw to cut melamine, but it is not recommended. A handsaw should only be used if only one side of the melamine will be showing. A handsaw will give a clean cut on top but the spacing of the teeth of the blade will cause chipping on the underside.
Handsaws have very strong blades that can cut through almost anything. There are two main disadvantages to using a handsaw though.
The first disadvantage depends on the length of melamine you need to cut. A handsaw is perfectly fine for cutting smaller pieces of melamine. But if you are cutting a long piece such as for a cupboard or bookcase, you will get a cleaner – and faster, cut using a powered saw.
The second disadvantage to using a handsaw is one side of the melamine will be chipped. Handsaws have wide gaps between the teeth of the blade. The gap is great for cutting trees or other rough timber, but not when you need a clean, smooth cut.
Can You Cut Melamine With a Jigsaw?
Jigsaws have smaller blades that are great for making creative cuts. Can you cut melamine with a jigsaw?
You can cut melamine with a jigsaw. Use a fine-tooth blade that is designed for cutting melamine. These blades will only cut on the downward stroke, reducing the amount of chipping and splintering.
Jigsaws have a reciprocating saw action. The blade moves in an up and down motion, cutting each side. This type of blade gives an easy and quick cut but it can chip both sides of the melamine panel.
The best way to cut melamine with a jigsaw is to use a plastic anti-splinter insert. The insert is clear so you can still see your cut line.
The plastic acts as a buffer between the blade and the melamine. The buffer will help to minimize the chipping and splintering that occur when it is cut.
Can You Cut Melamine With a Table Saw?
You use a table saw for cutting wood and tile. Can you cut melamine with a table saw?
You can cut melamine with a table saw. Make sure the table saw is fitted with a high-quality blade designed to cut melamine. The blade needs to have at least 80 teeth that are carbide-tipped. Use steady, even pressure to make the cut.
Melamine is easy to work with if you are careful and go slow. As tempting as it is to just start cutting the melamine, you should take the time to score the melamine before starting.
Scoring melamine helps prevent it from chipping or splintering. You can score it with either a utility knife or the table saw blade.
If you use the table saw, lower the blade to ¼”. You do not want to cut through the melamine, You only need the cut deep enough to slice through the melamine covering.
You will do this to each side. Again, each cut will not cut the melamine into two pieces. If you are using a smaller piece of melamine, score both sides with a utility knife.
Once both sides have been scored, adjust the blade so it is at least three-quarters higher than the thickness of the melamine. Use steady, even pressure to move the blade through the cut.
Carefully feed the melamine through the blade, flipping the panel over if necessary.
Can You Cut Melamine With a Router?
You want to cut dadoes in your bookshelf. Can you cut melamine with a router?
You can cut melamine with a router. A router is the best way to drill holes in melamine. Use a jig and plunge router that has a 5/8” guide bushing. A ¼” carbide-tipped down-spiral bit will give you a clean cut.
Routers are also great to use when you want to cut dadoes in melamine. The down-cup spiral bit will protect the melamine from chipping. Make two or more slow, shallow passes into the melamine.
Going slow will lower the risk of chip-out because the blade will clear out chips more effectively than if you make one quick pass through the melamine.
Can You Cut Melamine With a Hacksaw?
You need to cut a piece of melamine but you only have a hacksaw. Can you cut melamine with a hacksaw?
You can cut a piece of melamine with a hacksaw. The hacksaw blade can be used to cut on either the push or pull stroke. A hacksaw is strong enough to cut through metal but you will not get a clean cut with a hacksaw.
Hacksaws are often used by plumbers and electricians to cut pipes and conduits. Unlike its name, hacksaws can give a clean, precise cut. It just might not be the best option for cutting melamine.
A hacksaw is similar to a handsaw. Both are small-toothed and cut on a push-pull motion. The push-pull motion is what can cause one side of the melamine to chip or splinter.
If you use a hacksaw to cut melamine, cut on the side no one will see. Some other ways to get a cleaner cut are to score the cut you want to make before using the hacksaw.
You can also reinforce the melamine by using painter’s tape along the edge of the line you are cutting or putting the tape directly on the line. Sometimes cutting through the tape can dull the blade so it is up to you which method you want to try.
Can You Cut Melamine With a Miter Saw?
You used a miter saw to cut nice angles on the edges of trim around your house. Can you cut melamine with a miter saw?
You can cut melamine with a miter saw. Use a blade with at least 80 teeth that are carbide-tipped. Do not use a quick downward motion to cut through the melamine. Use slow and steady pressure to avoid chipping and splintering the melamine.
Miter saws are very similar to table saws. Both make downward cuts but miter saws are the best to use when you need to make angled cuts.
The majority of miter saws have a cut depth of 12 or 14”. If you need to cut a piece of melamine that is larger than this, you will need to make two cuts.
This is preferred when cutting melamine anyway. Typically you will score the melamine on each side and then make the final cut.
Miter saws also provide the ease of being stationary. It is easier to make a straight cut than if you are holding a saw, such as a circular saw.
You also don’t have to worry about kickback from the blade. Miter saws cut in downward motion instead of a pushing or pulling motion.
Can You Cut Melamine With a SKIL Saw?
A common tool in almost every DIYer’s garage is the SKIL Saw. Can you cut melamine with a SKIL saw?
You can cut melamine with a skill saw. A SKIL saw is a handheld saw that gives you the ease of movement when making cuts. Use a blade that has at least 80 teeth. For the best results, the blade should be carbide-tipped and have a thin kerf.
When using a SKIL saw to cut melamine, you also want a blade that has a slow feed rate. The faster the blade kicks out what it is cutting, the more chips and splinters the melamine will have.
You can reinforce the melamine by taping along the line you want to cut. Chipping and splintering will occur where the skill saw blade teeth exit the cut. If you are using a one-sided piece of melamine, this will not be an issue.
For melamine that will have both sides visible, score the cut on both sides before using the SKIL saw to make the final cut.
If you are unsure of the blade your SKIL saw has or how it will react to the melamine, do a practice cut first, if possible.
Can You Cut Melamine With a Track Saw?
A track saw will cut trim, rip boards, and make long, precise cuts. Can you cut melamine with a track saw?
You can cut melamine with a track saw. The track saw blade has fewer teeth than a circular saw blade but the teeth are closer together and are thinner. The track saw will give a straight clean cut without the need for clamps.
A track saw blade is just as the name implies – a saw on a track. The track gives you a built-in straight edge so you are guaranteed a straight cut each time.
Track saw’s also have a blade that is designed specifically for cutting melamine. If you don’t have a blade specifically for cutting melamine, mark your cut and then score it first. Reduce the depth of the track saw blade so you do not cut through the melamine.
Make your first run with the scoring and then follow with the final cut. Scoring the melamine first will only cut the melamine layer of the particleboard. This step will prevent the melamine from chipping or splintering from the actual cut.
Can You Cut Melamine With a Dremel?
Dremel is a line of handheld tools that can do everything from cutting to polishing. Can you cut melamine with a Dremel?
You can cut melamine with a Dremel. Dremel tools are best for smaller jobs such as intricate cuts, creating openings in counters or desktops, or for smoothing out the edges of previously cut melamine. Dremel tools are lightweight so there is a low risk of using too much pressure when cutting melamine.
Dremel is a high-speed rotary tool that can be used as a small saw. The laminate bit will allow you to cut through melamine.
Dremel tools also have speed settings so you can match the material to the RPM your Dremel has to ensure a clean cut. Slowing the speed will also prevent the Dremel from overheating and will also prevent the melamine from chipping or splintering.
How To Cut Melamine Properly
The most important step is getting the correct blade. Whether you are using a table saw, a circular saw, or another type of saw, the main thing is to use the correct blade.
Make sure you are using a blade that is designed to cut through melamine and has the correct tooth size and spacing to prevent the melamine from chipping or splitting.
You have the saw picked out now you need to get yourself ready.
Regardless of the saw you decide to use, safety is priority number one. Anytime you are using a saw, whether it’s handheld or stationary, there is always the risk of eye injury. Wear safety glasses that are impact-resistant and that have side shields.
Melamine is made from wood, paper, and resin that have been combined under extreme pressure. When cutting melamine, there is always the potential for dangerous dust. Wearing a tight-fighting N95 or equivalent dust mask will prevent the dangerous dust particles from getting into your eyes or lungs.
Often overlooked is hearing protection. Most of us have earbuds in these days but if they are not noise-canceling, they are not providing that crucial buffer between our eardrums and the loud decibels from the saw blades.
Depending on the task at hand, it would be wise to invest in a good pair of cut-resistant gloves. Cut-resistant gloves will protect your hands and fingers in the event there is kickback or the melamine splinters.
Even if nothing goes wrong during the cutting process, cut-resistant gloves will give you better hold on the material and make it easier to maneuver the melamine panels if you need to do extra cuts or scoring.
Mark The Cut
Mark your measurement on the melamine panel with a pencil and score both sides of the panel with a utility knife. Because melamine is a layer on top of particleboard, it will bend before the saw blade cuts through it.
Scoring your line first will ensure the melamine is already cut so the blade will not bend it. You will also get a cleaner cut.
Turn the melamine panel over and mark your measurement, lining it with painter’s tape and then scoring it with a utility knife.
Lining both sides of the cut with painter’s tape will stabilize the melamine on the outside of the kerf as the blade cuts through. This will greatly reduce the risk of chipping and splintering and will give you a much cleaner cut.
Making The Cut
Adjust the saw blade height to 1/4”. Turn the saw on and let it come to full speed. Make a shallow cut along the scoreline.
Turn the melamine panel over and line the scoreline with painter’s tape.
Adjust the saw blade so it is slightly deeper than your melamine panel. Use steady, even pressure to cut the melamine panel all the way through. Do not force the blade through.
To properly cut melamine, use a saw blade that has at least 80 teeth that are carbide-tipped. The saw should only use one motion of cutting. Dual-cutting blades such as a hacksaw or hand saw will cause the melamine to chip and splinter.