Blade Life in Melamine

Cabinetmakers discuss triple chip blades, hollow ground blades, blade sharpness, and equipment adjustments to get long performance from blades. January 26, 2009

I have a Holtzer panel saw. I use a triple chip atb blade for melamine. My blades don't seem to last long before I start to get chips on the back of the sheets - this would be the opposite side from the score. I am wondering how may sheets other guys are cutting before chips start to appear? Are there better blades out there for cutting melamine?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor L:
Use a hollow ground for better performance. These will go from working great to poor performance all of a sudden. But you should get a longer better cut from them.

From contributor A:
I have a Striebig and haven't had much luck with the hollow ground. They cost more to sharpen and not everybody can sharpen them properly. I find that a h-atb provides the best results and lasts the longest. My best blades are the Amana Di-tec #DT10720-30 and MSB1080, however, the blade diameter, arbor, and pin holes are probably different for you guys. I get clean cuts on the first 15-20 sheets.

From contributor D:
I had the same problem with my 1205. I tried adjusting for a deeper cut and changed to a re-sharpened blade and still had chip-out. I called the tech and was told the blade was dull, or not properly sharpened. I bought another new blade and problem went away. I have been told that blades don't last as long as on a slider due to size of blades (8 1/2") and shallow depth of cut.

I use triple chip, Amana DiTech. I agree with contributor L - the hollow ground are nice but I can't find a local shop that can sharpen them. To get the most out of my blades I try to cut shelves and other parts that need two good edges first.

From contributor S:
There are blades for as much money as you wish to invest. Having a vertical panel saw, I have found that alignment on the blade to the vertical cut is very important. An ever so slight "tilt" will mean one side of the blade drags and kicks out the back edges. Check your maker's spec and adjustments for this.

I prefer the hollow ground blades. I send them to the maker for sharpening. A unit to a good blade seems the limit before changing. Cutting speed is another consideration, and testing this with some scrap will give you the best result.

From contributor P:
Vertical saws will not achieve the blade life of a sliding saw due to the minimal amount of penetration through the grid or board. With a sliding saw you can raise the main blade high and the amount of time the blade is in the cut is less and less kickback problems will occur because the teeth of the blade in the cut is almost vertical or straight down. When you drop the blade to where teeth are just slightly through the board the cutting force is pushing back toward the operator.

The angle that the tooth attacks the back side of the panel is critical. The best possible setup is a negative 2 degree Triple Chip for your melamine and MDF board. Yes the hollow ground blades cut pretty when they are 1st sharpened but they break down quickly. The other problem with hollow ground blades is the added expense to sharpen them. A triple chip blade will hold an edge longer. The ATB or High ATB works best on veneered plywoods but once again break down quickly on melamine board.

If you can adjust your saw to penetrate through the backer grid deeper, you will find the blades last longer. When Elcon went to a penetration depth of 5/8" through the backer, blade life increased greatly.