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Radical Basement Dweller
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm putting a bid together for a simple glass-front showcase to match a few existing ones. They are made from white melamine. I've never worked with the stuff and was just wondering if anyone has any tips on cutting, joinery, etc. Does it come covered with any plastic film to guard against scratching while handling it? What kind of joinery is best for a simple carcass construction?

Thanks.
 

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Joe The Handyman
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Melamine is very heavy & cumbersome to work with.
You need a special melamine saw blade to get clean cuts.
There are fasteners made just for melamine

Are you planning on making a door out of melamine?
 

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Radical Basement Dweller
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Doors will be sliding glass on tracks.
 

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Plywood saw blade on the TS worked well for me. Biscuits or domino would work. I don't like melamine, but it sounds like you gotta use it for this project. It's just fancy particle board and like Joe said it's heavy. Also not very strong.
I found the edge banding stuff that I got to go on easy enough, but then you have to take the extra step of trimming it flush. Seems like they could just make it exactly the right width and save us all the trouble. Maybe the stuff I got was crap, got it from HD.
 

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Maker of fine kindling
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6,199 Posts
Melamine has it's place and learning how to deal with it is pretty important or you will find yourself having to turn down some jobs that require it.

Cutting on a table saw with a general purpose blade will produce a decent cut on the top and leave you disappointed on the bottom. If you use a zero clearance insert in the table with a high angle blade that is made for melamine, you may get by with a decent cut on both sides. Forrest makes a very nice blade for this but it will still leave you cussing from time to time when you need a clean line on both sides.

A pretty crafty member posted this thread some time ago that ensures a clean edge. It's a bit more work but if you need clean edges on both sides, this will yield great results.

http://www.contractortalk.com/f13/chip-free-melamine-69238/

As far as edge banding goes. You need an end trimmer and an edge trimmer. There are plenty of choices out there. We still have and use a set from Vertex (sp?). The real tip I can give you is that using a laminate file for the final edge is the only way to go. This can be done quickly and very nicely with just a little practice. Roll the file over the edge as you move in a long stroking pattern.

Some will suggest comformat screws for fastening. They work great. We use 7/16" crown staples and melamine glue. Wood screws to back them up is fine too. But unless you are dadoing, you absolutely need melamine glue.

Trial and error will be your best friend.

And the edges will cut you like a razor blade.
 

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Maker of Fine Sawdust
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Use a Hi AT melamine blade. Keep the blade about 1/4" above the melamine. Start with it higher and as the blade becomes dull you will need to keep lowering it.

Another method is to double score the melamine. Put the blade up so it is above the table about 1/16" and make the cut. Then raise the blade and make the cut again. This is usually after the blade is spent.

Make your shelving and other cuts that require clean cuts on both sides. Then do the cuts that only require one clean side.
 

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Interior Remodeling
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Remember to use melamine glue or cut a "glue" groove into the face. Yellow glue will not stick to the melamine.
 

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Radical Basement Dweller
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Yup...got the Duraline Hi AT. Have to get it sharpened though.

Does the stuff come with any plastic over it like Wilsonart or Formica?
 

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Yup...got the Duraline Hi AT. Have to get it sharpened though.

Does the stuff come with any plastic over it like Wilsonart or Formica?
No covering
Depending on what you are making you can use T mold if needed, it wears much better than edge banding.

At one time particle board was available with vertical grade laminate on both sides. You could do that yourself depending on how much you need.
 

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Quality of panel will have a lot to do with quality of the cut edge. Pan-O-Lam has a better core than the box store product yielding a better edge.

The Conformat screws work very well, you'll need their drill bit. If you can hide a side, pocket screws work well also.

Tom
 

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The Duke
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For screws, you can use the Spax at home Depot. They are multi purpose and they worked great for me I used 2". I also dadoed the melamine off, like 1/64" and used wood glue.

If you have a Festool rail saw, you can get clean edges on both sides as well as bottom, as long as you have a flat table and a spoils board underneath. For the rail saw you need the splinter guard attachment. And use the triple chip grind blade.

Edge banding was super easy. Trimmed up with a router.

For whatever reason, when I was ripping pieces, the particle board curved or bent on each cut. Like there were serious internal tensions running in the sheet. Minor, but it screws with you if not careful. I'll post some pictures later. I'm heading to the site soon. Had some of the maple melamine. I wouldn't want to use it daily. It's heavy.
 

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Melamine is very heavy & cumbersome to work with.

Waaahhhhhhhh LOL



Find a local plywood distributor/wholesale house to purchase from. Look for 42-45lb industrial particle board. There can be a big difference between home depots density and the industrial weight. Might have been the source of Kent's problems. The lower density splits real easy when screwing, has a low density in the center that makes edgeband (pvc or laminate) challenging to take hold, without filling.

PVC/Preglued edgeband trims very easy with a wide chisel, as does T-Mold. 1.5"-2" wide chisel. Make sure there are no burrs/nicks and it's not razor sharp or it will scratch the melamine.

As soon as you get your sheet goods, block sand the melamine edges or prepare to get stitches for the gashes. Left by the rough melamine edges.
 

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The Duke
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I got mine from my wholesale supplier. Columbia products, it was made on Canada. I don't get hardly anything at home Depot for sheet stock. Only for applied toe kicks. Everything else is bought from my wholesalers. They treat me nice. Plus the veneers are crap at hd. Thin, glue shows through.

I wore leather gloves when handling it. I can see though how it will cut you like a street whore. It's vicious.
 

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Maker of fine kindling
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If you can, get pine core. Fir core chips like crazy.
 
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Finish Carpenter
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....rail saws are great for reducing the chipping. If you don't have one you can also rough cut with a circ saw or TS, then final size with a straight edge and a router with a straight bit. Super crisp edges. I also have used SPAX with it. Works fine. Pre drill is a must.
 

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The Duke
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If you can, get pine core. Fir core chips like crazy.
What do you mean? The particles? Or is there something else with a melamine finish? I thought it was just a mishmash of whatever junk they threw in there.

One of the guys I work for said the stuff they used long ago has bolts and crap in the core.

I have to admit, it's interesting stuff. It looks quite decent, they have dozens of flavors, and is pretty cheap. I had a test door of hard maple with a clear cv finish, it was a dead ringer for matching the rock maple melamine.
 

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Maker of fine kindling
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Kent Whitten said:
What do you mean? The particles? Or is there something else with a melamine finish? I thought it was just a mishmash of whatever junk they threw in there. One of the guys I work for said the stuff they used long ago has bolts and crap in the core. I have to admit, it's interesting stuff. It looks quite decent, they have dozens of flavors, and is pretty cheap. I had a test door of hard maple with a clear cv finish, it was a dead ringer for matching the rock maple melamine.
Yes the particles. Depending on the manufacturer, you will be getting different species of core. We find that pine is the best.

Melamine has it's place. I avoid it unless I have no choice. Mostly because it just can't get wet, not even once. But the finish is pretty durable. The white interior of a cabinet is nice and bright. It makes for a decent, affordable option in a laundry or garage.

The maple melamine pattern is made in a way that grain matching along the long grain isn't even necessary. That's a real bonus.

For a quick, affordable, frameless cabinet, melamine deserves a place in the line. Couple all that with production tooling and an edgebander and you can move some product.

But it's not the product of choice for our targeted clientele. Just the phrase particle board doesn't sound very quality, does it?

The best story I have heard about debris in a sheet was a crescent wrench. I suppose anything that falls in the batch is what you may find.
 
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