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To get a good cut on both sides is dependent on your material and blade. I make a living doing this so I want to make my cuts once. There are other methods you can try that require 2 passes or pre scoring. Notes: There are other similar materials to melamine that I have no experience with. When buying melamine make sure you are getting a pine core as it is a lot more forgiving than a fir core.
The most important things about a melamine blade are 80 teeth and a negative hook. I have mostly worked with TCG (triple chip grind) blades which require less frequent sharpening than ATB (alternate tooth bevel) blades. The negative hook on TCG blades is the key to stopping backside chipping. Raise the blade just enough so that you have no top chipping and this is usually where you'll have the least bottom chipping. As the blade dulls you'll likely start to get some top chipping and need to raise the blade a bit more. I have only tried one ATB "melamine" blade and it had a positive hook. It worked well for a very short period of time. I will have to try one with a negative hook.

My favorite blade for years has been the Freud LU92. I have the original 80 tooth and the newer 60 tooth. Do not buy the later as those 20 teeth definitely make a difference. As my 80 tooth one has almost no carbide left I called Freud wondering if maybe I could find another 80 tooth LU92. If I couldn't get one I was hoping to find a good alternative. The guy I talked to at Freud seemed to know blades and contrary to their ads he said you need 80 teeth and a negative hook. They have another blade, the LU98, which has 80 teeth and 10 deg positive hook. They advertise this blade for melamine but he and I agree that it is not (...at least not for two sided melamine, current ads say its for single sided laminate/melamine). I mentioned the aluminum 72 tooth (neg 7 deg.) and he said that might be worth a try. He basically told me Freud didn't have a decent blade for 2x melamine... Jun '11: Its not a new model by any means, but the LU97M (plain and sometimes well priced, e.g. $50 at Amazon) and LU97R (red coated) is the current/decent Freud 2x melamine blade - TCG and -3 hook.

I went looking for blades and the one I have on the saw now is a DML TCG with a 10 deg negative hook. It looks and acts like my old Freud but seems to cut best with the blade lower (only 1/4" or so above the material). It may be that when I dull it a bit the cutting angle will change a bit and the blade will need to be raised a bit. For now the cuts are chip free. One nice touch is that it has rubber or something in the expansion slots which makes for a quiet blade.

Another blade I tried out was a CMT ATB (Ultra) with 40 deg angle (30 deg is more common). The hook angle wasn't advertised and seems to be about 10 deg positive instead of the typical melamine 10 deg negative. It cut beautifully initially but in a few days of heavy usage it was chipping a little. The chips were random and more noticeable (bigger) than with a dull TCG melamine. It was returned. I still will have to try one of the 30 deg ATB's with a 10 deg neg hook (DML or Systematic). One thing I noticed was that the ATB throws little triangles of melamine at you and leaves them all around which means eye protection is mandatory and that it probably wouldn't be good for easy to scratch stuff like black melamine. Feed rate is higher but that is probably the positive hook.

There are also some blades with U shaped teeth (hollow ground face). These blades are both expensive to buy and expensive to sharpen. They would seem to be somewhat like an ATB but each tooth has 2 points instead of one so it would seem that they would last longer between sharpening.

See also:
Cutting Melamine Particle Core Board. - Danny Prouix of Rideau Cabinets covers the 2x cutting method.
Clean Melamine Edges - Jim Mattson covers a router table method and the 2x method. I agree with his reasoning that the 2x cut is better because it reduces the angle of the teeth. A negative hook melamine blade will reduce the angle of the teeth making single pass cuts possible.

Comments [ new ]

Re: Melamine
Posted by frank shic on Friday, 19-Dec-2008

you might also want to try a modulus 2000 scoring saw attachment. it's not cheap, but i've gotten perfect chip-free cuts with it consistently. the only drawback i've found so far is that it's near impossible to make a zero clearance insert for it and i trashed the original drive belt by allowing small cutoffs to fall through and jam the mechanism.

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