Minimizing melamine chip-out
Why do specialty melamine blades cut chip-free for so short a time? July 3, 2001
I have 2 FS Tools extended life model 4000 melamine blades. They cut chip-free for about 20 sheets of 120 gram white melamine without the scoring, and then start to chip on the bottom and occasionally on top. We have a Castolin 10 foot slider and other blades seem to last 3 times as long. Anyone know why?
I'm no sawblade expert, but I have used a few melamine/veneer blades. What they all seem to have in common is a relatively severe tooth angle. This puts less pressure on the surface to be cut, allowing a slicing action through delicate materials. At the same time, it makes a more fragile tooth tip. My experience is that these blades do require more frequent grinding and must be ground more carefully than standard or triple-chip blades.
20 sheets is good for this type of blade. I usually only get 12-15 until I get too much chipping. Look at your blade in the sunlight. If you see any shine at the tip, it's dull (look closely--it's hard to see). If it starts to chip on the top, raise your blade height slightly. This will reduce chipping by decreasing blade angle and pull the melamine paper onto the core.
XL 4000 refers to F-S Tools brand of long-wear carbide. You must still have the correct blade for cutting melamine. The prefix on the part number will be LM. This blade has a negative hook and a high alternate top bevel, which is about 25~. This blade will wear more rapidly, and playing with the blade height will help eliminate chipping.
We don't have a scoring saw. I tried the High ATB blades and didn't like them. We use the concave face blade. I don't know that it is more economical to run, but I think it gives less chipping. To maximize the blade life, we use it only for parts that show on two sides, and use a triple chip for all-over melamine cuts.
Years ago we started out with a conventional table saw and tried several types of LV blades to cut melamine. I do not think we got more that a few sheets cut at any time between sharpenings prior to chipping. There is a scoring blade attachment called Modulus that can be added to most saws. All we have ever worked with is melamine and if you are cutting much, I would highly recommend getting an Altendorf or another good slider with a scoring blade. If you are cutting more than a unit a day I would recommend a beam saw.
For the last 5 years, I was using an ATB 80th. I always had chip out. To get rid of chip out, you needed a scoring saw like the Delta rt31. I had to sharpen the blade after 50 sheets of 5/8 melamine. Until I found the "Dimar" melamine blade #10-80TN. This blade has a 6' neg hook and cuts excellently. You have to look real close to tell which is the bottom. Blade height does matter--approximately 1/2" above surface. I just finished my second lift with the same blade (100 sheets).
The throat plate is very important! I cut a laminated piece and lift the blade into it to have just the right clearance on the sides and the front of the blade. The difference is unbelievable!
I have had a modulus blade for many years. It was invented in Canada and it is my most prized blade. It cuts sheet after sheet and keeps going and has a very simple design.
That's right about the throat. I go through about 10 to 15 per month in order to keep the chips down to a minimum. I make my throats out of 1/2" MDF and use the system screws from BLUM to level it in my table saw. Also, don't forget to check your fence to ensure that it is true with your fence.
We have the same problem that you're having with blades chipping on melamine after just a few cuts. One thing that has helped us a lot is to make sure that the wood we are using is a pine core. I also use a forest brand blade without the scoring blade attachment. This lets me cut about 40 sheets before I need to change blades.
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Comment from contributor A:
Keep in mind that melmine has metal in the core. This will shorten the blade life every time.