Getting Clean Cuts in Melamine

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Blog entry by Todd A. Clippinger posted 05-07-2012 08:50 PM 4029 reads 1 time favorited 39 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Melamine is notorious for chipping out when cutting. In this video I share my tools and techniques for creating clean cuts on both sides of melamine.

The blade I use in the video is a Freud LU97R010. It makes the cut on the back side as clean as on the top side.

The images of the cuts in the video are of the backside of the material where chip-out tends to occur. (I did not make that clear in the video.)

In Part II I will show you how to apply edge banding.

This is not just instructional, it really is a peak inside of my world as a professional. I hope you find it helpful.

Todd A. Clippinger Share the Love~Share the Knowledge

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

39 comments so far

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10125 posts in 4081 days

#1 posted 05-07-2012 09:14 PM

Very good Todd!

I noticed that you have the saw blade height, what looks to be, about 1/2”-3/4” over the top of the board.

I usually have it much lower… closer to 1/4”...

Is that a major factor on the results?

Thank you very much.

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4129 days

#2 posted 05-07-2012 09:24 PM

Hey Joe – my general rule of thumb is the gullets are close to the surface of the material so they clear properly but the teeth are not too high.

It is a very general setting and depending on the person, they may feel this is too high from a safety standpoint. If that is the case, then by all means a person should only raise the blade to where they feel safe.

As far as the blade height affecting the quality of the cut, I normally cut with it at the height you see in the video so I am not sure otherwise.

The biggest factors in getting a clean cut are using the proper blade (and sharp too,) using a smooth & steady feed motion, have plenty of infeed/outfeed support according to the size pieces you are cutting, and a zero clearance plate helps too.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3333 days

#3 posted 05-07-2012 09:30 PM

great training video, always good to learn from those who do professional work, thanks todd.

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View a1Jim's profile


117128 posts in 3606 days

#4 posted 05-07-2012 09:33 PM

Super video Todd lots of great information . I guess I’ve been lucky because I haven’t experienced chipout ,but I don’t use melamine that often . I only have a 60 tooth blade but it seems to work fine. I also noticed your feed rate is very slow ,do you feel that helps with chipout ? I always enjoy your videos and your messages are very helpful.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4129 days

#5 posted 05-07-2012 09:36 PM

Thanks Griz!

Joe – I went back and looked at the blade height on both table saws. It appears the blade height was a little bit higher on the DeWalt than on the Jet. This was merely an arbitrary setting that I felt comfortable with in both cases.

I did not have the hand feather board for use on the DeWalt and once I started, I did not bother going to get it I decided to keep recording. I usually set the blade height for common 3/4” material using the hand feather board.

I made some progress as the two big scenes were recorded in one shot each. I do have a lot of hours in the editing process though.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4129 days

#6 posted 05-07-2012 09:37 PM

Jonathon – I did not make it clear in the video but the inserted images are showing the back side of the cuts. That is what the double sided melamine blade produces, a cut that looks like the top side.

There was a part I dropped in editing where I did mention some of the attributes of the melamine cutting blades. Among them is the negative hook (which will vary) and that there are other blades by other brands and they all seem to work pretty good, especially if you stick with the name brands. You get what you pay for in blades.

You also bring up a good point in that melamine does wear out the tips pretty fast and for clean cuts I have to keep the blades sharp!

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4129 days

#7 posted 05-07-2012 09:51 PM

a1Jim – Thanks for the comments, they carry a good amount of weight coming from you with the experience you have.

I do get better results with a fairly cautious feed rate on the material. For one thing, I keep the material square against the fence. If the material wavers a little bit, that is usually cause for a bit of chipping as the teeth rake the sides of the cut at that point.

What you see in the video for images pretty well disappears with the edge banding.

I don’t get a lot of these projects, but I just made new cabinet doors for a beat-up coffee kiosk last week and realized this was a good topic to cover since I also used to struggle with ratty edges on my melamine cuts.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4129 days

#8 posted 05-07-2012 09:55 PM

Jonathan – Sometimes the most obvious things escape me and I did not make that clear in the video so I am glad you brought it up.

There are a lot of things racing through my mind that I need to share when recording a video and then editing. Stuff like that slips through the cracks of my mind:)

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Karson's profile


35126 posts in 4430 days

#9 posted 05-07-2012 10:00 PM

Todd You also didn’t mention that the blade is a Triple Chip. That design blade goes a long way in making your cuts chip free.

The high tip cuts through the surface and leaves a very small piece on the edge. The next tooth is a square cut and all that it has to cut is the small piece left by the first tooth.

A miracle of tip design.

Great video.

Any triple chip tooth will cut down your chip outs. But the back bevel on the tooth makes it harder to push your wood through the saw blade.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4129 days

#10 posted 05-07-2012 10:02 PM

Karson – you bring up a great point…so to speak…;)

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Roger's profile


20929 posts in 2833 days

#11 posted 05-07-2012 10:44 PM

Your video’s are gettin awards material. Gr8 filming, etc.. I have used a “hand-featherboard” as you did there many times. I appreciate all your tips and such.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View jaykaypur's profile


4017 posts in 2437 days

#12 posted 05-07-2012 10:52 PM

Great video. Instructional for me and well done.

-- Use it up, Wear it out --------------- Make it do, Or do without!

View Bothus's profile


441 posts in 3206 days

#13 posted 05-07-2012 11:01 PM

Hi Todd,

As others have said great video. You didn’t say that you were showing the bottom cut but I knew you were because on the top side you drew a BIG 1 and an arrow and the side you showed had a smaller 1 with no arrow.
Of course, you could have just been showing us an entirely different board but I know well enough from watching your videos to know you wouldn’t do a bait and switch like that. So the only logical conclusion I could make was that you were showing us the bottom of the board… which is what we were all waiting to see anyway.

But here is a question for you. If you cut regular plywood with a melamine blade with it dull it quicker?

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

View John 's profile


253 posts in 3431 days

#14 posted 05-07-2012 11:10 PM

I use the same technique with the exception of the blade. I’ve been using a HATB (Schumacher, Freud, or CMT) that have been working great for Melamine giving me clean cuts on top as well as bottom. My TCG’s have mostly been used for Plastics like Lexan or UHMV. Great videos by the way.


-- John

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4129 days

#15 posted 05-08-2012 12:01 AM

Jonathan – one of my favorite blades is my CMT 40 tooth General. It cuts like an 80 tooth finish blade with half the teeth. Other than the 80 tooth melamine blade I rarely use my high tooth count blades anymore. I use the blades with the least amount of teeth as possible.

Bothus – Cutting a material that is less than ideal often results in heat build up that tends to dull blades and cause pitch build up. However, it should be noted that particle board itself is one of the worst materials for a blade to cut.

Other than that, the tooth geometry of any given blade is typically the largest factor in whether or not you get a good result in any certain material.

John – I have used a high alternate bevel blade on melamine before with good results but it wears the fine tips off the teeth in a hurry. But I will admit it can work.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

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