How to find and harvest legal melamine

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Blog entry by Bothus posted 10-16-2009 05:17 AM 1670 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Disclaimer: My apologies in advance to OregonBurls. Greg I hope you have a sense of humor.

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Hey everyone,
It was suggested that I start a discussion on how to find and harvest melamine.

I don’t deal with melamine that often. I found some once so here is what I know.

It is illegal to harvest a melamine without permission. Of course if it is on your own property you can give yourself permission. What I do is put an ad on Craig’s list saying I want your melamines. Most people don’t know what malamines are. So you don’t get that many calls. Melamines are almost everywhere there are Lowes or Home Depots. I see them a lot of the times in cities. Where the have been damaged and contiually run over. If you live close to LowesLand you can get a permit to harvest. I dont harvest at LowesLand. I get my melamines from people who are careless when tying down their loads.

If you live in HomeDepot country, the maple melamines like to grow in seasonal aisles. They hate lots of water. So if you are walking thru the HomeDepot you need to keep an eye out for them.

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Okay, enough of this nonsense. Here is what happened:

As I was driving down Crenshaw Blvd about a half a block from the office I saw a huge pile of melamine half in the street and half on the sidewalk. I was driving past by the time I saw it so I didn’t stop.

Then when I got to the office and there was another huge pile in front of our buiding. Again half in the street and half on the sidewalk. It was obviously a load that fell off of a truck.

I went into the shop and met with the shop manager like I do every morning and after our meeting I asked “Did you see that melamine in front of the building? I could use that for my garage.” He said “If you found it, it’s yours go grab one of the guys and get it loaded up.” Cool.

We loaded it all onto the forklift and pulled it inside the shop. Then I grabbed one of the vans and we drove down the street. Unfortunately, someone had called the city by that time and the local trash truck had picked it all up. Darn.

These were 3/4” x 12” x 97” melamine with edgebanding on one side. I ended up with 20 perfect pieces and about 15 that were either broken (usable for shelves after they are cut up) or had water damage on part of them (it rained yesterday for the first time in 6 months). I just checked and these are $14 each. Dang. I normally would never buy $500 worth of melamine but… the price was right.

This answers a question I was stuggling with. I am using an unfinished stain grade maple bookcase in the garage that was left over from a job and I was trying to decide if I wanted to finish it and use it in the house.

I’ll be replacing it with a melamine bookcase soon.

Another project. Great.


-- Jerry Boshear, Professional Kitchen Designer, amature woodworker.

9 comments so far

View closetguy's profile


744 posts in 3921 days

#1 posted 10-16-2009 05:36 AM

Who would want it? I work with melamine more than wood, and I wouldn’t pay a penny for the cheap, low grade, melamine that Lowes and HD carry.

-- I don't make mistakes, only design

View Mike's profile


252 posts in 3411 days

#2 posted 10-16-2009 05:38 AM

What about using some of that for the Unisaw Outfeed Table? I will keep my eyes open, not much of that around here. Hope to see more pics of your projects. Thanks for sharing.

-- Mike, VT

View scrappy's profile


3507 posts in 3459 days

#3 posted 10-16-2009 07:26 AM

Great for shelving and storage. Depending on its density (tareout) could by some good jigs.

Great find. Thanks for posting.


-- Scrap Wood's the best...the projects are smaller, and so is the mess!

View Mike Gager's profile

Mike Gager

665 posts in 3296 days

#4 posted 10-16-2009 03:39 PM

how do you glue melamine? do you have to cut away the melamine to get to the particle board? like a dado or rabbet so its particle board to particle board for glue?

View Bothus's profile


441 posts in 3205 days

#5 posted 10-16-2009 03:54 PM

Dennis, you make a good point. This is not good quality melamine like you would use for your custom closets.

Personally I hate melamine regardless of the quality. But, I also hate using a solid maple bookcase to store crap on in my garage. If you’ve seen my garage you’ll know it doesn’t deserve beautiful wood because you can’t see it anyway.

Speaking of beautiful wood I checked out your stores at and Etsy.

Beautiful work and very reasonably priced. I am tempted to buy a wine holder/snack tray from you for the little woman but if I gave her one that I didn’t make myself she would be hurt (especially since I made a cutting board for the neighbors).

On another note do you have a website that shows your custom closets? I’d love to see that.

Mike: I will be needing an outfeed table but I don’t think I want to make it out of 12” wide strips. Plus my wife just bought me THIS for my birthday so it will suffice for a while (I haven’t been able to work on the Unisaw for that last two weeks anyway).

Scrappy: I am also concerned about tearout since this is not very dense melamine. I need to come up with a design plan that will compensate for quality of the material… any ideas?


-- Jerry Boshear, Professional Kitchen Designer, amature woodworker.

View Bothus's profile


441 posts in 3205 days

#6 posted 10-16-2009 03:59 PM

Mike Gager: Good question. I have never actually worked with melamine except assembling Ikea type crap. I wouild think you would have to dado the mating piece.

-- Jerry Boshear, Professional Kitchen Designer, amature woodworker.

View OregonBurls's profile


580 posts in 3177 days

#7 posted 10-16-2009 04:04 PM

Yes I have a sense of humor. I like it! If you can’t laugh you become grummy. You have to much time on your hads. Good Find! Hows the Figure! LOL!

-- Greg, Southern Oregon, What can I say but God Is Good!

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3314 days

#8 posted 10-17-2009 12:58 AM

Hows the figure? That’s good Greg! LOL. Great find Bothus. If I could just get OregonBurls to accidently drop a load of Burls off in front of my place… that would be a find.

-- John @

View scrappy's profile


3507 posts in 3459 days

#9 posted 10-17-2009 08:12 AM

Bothus, I think in order to glue this up without too much trouble you are going to have to rabit the edges to get glue to the wood. For the shelve, I would not try to hook your shelves to the uprights dirrectly. Use a small board under the edge of shelf to help support it at the sides. Could do the same thing for the back. Should help hold it all together. Oh ….and lots of small screws.

Good luck.


-- Scrap Wood's the best...the projects are smaller, and so is the mess!

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