Using Melamine Rutland VT
West Rutland, VT
Fair Haven, VT
Melamine is the professional cabinetmaker's best friend. Build a cabinet with it and you have a complete, durable interior that requiresno sanding (yes!) and no finishing (oh, yeah!). Pros often build wholekitchens out of melamine and then dress the boxes with plywood endpanels and solid-wood fronts. The bright melamine cabinet interiors areeasy to search, stain resistant and tough as nails. Entertainmentcenters and home office, laundry-room or mudroom cabinets are also madewith melamine. Most home centers carry melamine shelving with the edgebanding already on. Just buy or make shelf supports and you're inbusiness. Melamine has found a home in many a woodshop. The durable,slick surface is perfect for jigs, fences, outfeed tables and routertables. I use it in my shop as an assembly table cover. Glue drips popright off and the slick surface makes it easy to slide around heavyassemblies. It's not as durable as plastic laminate for high-wearsurfaces such as countertop and desktops, but it's plenty tough forshop use.Still not sold on melamine? How about saving money? It's abouthalf the cost of birch plywood. Not only that, but you get better yieldfrom a sheet of melamine than from veneer sheet stock. That's becauseyou don't have to worry about grain direction. Better yield at a lowercost—you save both ways. Here are some tips on how to make this staplematerial of the modern cabinetmaker work perfectly for you!
Go Beyond Basic White
White melamine is by far the most common, but basic colors, likeblack, almond and wood grain, can be special-ordered from most homecenters or lumberyards that carry the white. Melamine comes in a widerange of thicknesses. Home centers not only carry 3/4-in. and 5/8-in.sheets for cabinet construction and shelving, but they often have1/2-in. for drawer parts and 1/4-in. stock for backs and drawer bottoms.
Stop the Chip-Out Monster
Chip-out on the bottom edge is a common problem when you use ageneral-purpose blade to cut melamine. Sometimes one rough edge doesn'tmatter, but when you need a perfectly clean edge on both sides, youhave a couple options. The first is to make a 1/16-in.-deep scoring cuton the bottom of the piece (see photo, below). Turn the saw off andcrank up the blade to finish the cut. The result is a perfectly cleancut on both surfaces. The second solution is a laminate-cutting blade(above), which gives you perfectly clean edges on both sides, without ascoring cut. If you cut a lot of melamine, these blades are well worththe investment.
Woodworker's Supply, (800) 645-9292, www.woodworker.com, Freud LU97 double-sided laminate blade, #117-386, $90.
Gloves are a must when handling large sheets of melamine. Werecommend a pair of Kevlar® gloves. Kevlar is designed to protect theuser from slicing cuts. Surprisingly, they're inexpensive ($5) and...