Troubleshooting Melamine Panel Joints

Melamine cabinet parts aren't fitting tight. Is it the panel cuts, or the assembly technique? June 12, 2005

I have a SCMI Pratix 48cnc machine, and I have a customer I am cutting cabinet parts for. The customer is looking to have 5/8 melamine cut. The cuts on the melamine are clean (no chipping top or bottom), however when the cabinet is assembled it doesn’t pull together tight.

The drywall screws are being used on a 24" side, and three 8mm do-wells are used only to line the sides up. The box is not being clamped, and the cnc is producing a rough cut on the particle board, which that is the reason the cabinets won't go together tight. Does anyone have any thoughts?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor F:
I used to cut melamine parts on a cnc with a single flute carbide bit. It is certainly possible that a dull bit will leave little ridges on the parts edges. The cure, for this case, is to keep an eye on the cut quality and change to sharp bits when necessary.

From contributor J:
I'd take a look at the box after assembly if possible. Sounds like a fastener problem to me. Drywall screws and particle board are not a good combination. They very well could be stripping out the wood or causing a bulge when going in that would keep the parts apart.

Try running a flush trim router bit over both edges of a set that won't pull up tight, and then check the fit. That will tell you immediately if it is on your end.

From contributor R:

Drywall screws are not the best way to go because they will keep going through the melamine and cause it to split and splinter. All of the boxes should be clamped together, the holes pre-drilled and counter sunk, and then a cabinet screw (flat head) should be inserted. They will stop, and won’t tear the melamine.