Working With Melamine Sheets

The Furniture and Cabinet Industry's Use of Melamine

a sheet material that is frequently utilized on low-cost cabinets and ready-to-assemble furniture products.

A thermosetting plastic resin called melamine is applied to a substrate, usually particle board.
To cure or harden the resin, the substance is heated. It includes formaldehyde, a chemical known to cause cancer.

Melamine comes in a wide range of colors and designs, as well as various widths and thicknesses. The sheets are bulky and challenging to work with since resin tends to chip when cut with standard table saws.

Commercial shops typically employ very expensive, EV plywood big CNC machines that are operated by CAD software and frequently have many cutter heads that use router bits made specifically for these machines. For the current procedure, the cutter heads are automatically changed.

These machines carve out pieces with astonishing accuracy and speed. With flawless repeatability from one sheet to the next, a single machine can position the sheet, cut all the pieces, drill any holes required, and cut rabits and dados.

Smaller commercial establishments frequently employ saws with a scoring blade—a second blade—for cutting materials. This blade is located right in front of the main blade and has a smaller diameter. The primary blade does not chip the bottom side of the cut as it exits because the scoring blade turns in the opposite way and scores the bottom edge of the sheet. This blade can be driven by the same motor by a belt drive or by a different, often smaller direct drive motor.

Many common cabinet saws can be equipped with the scoring blade attachment as an aftermarket addition.

Another technique is to use a jointer or router table to cut the sections 1/4" larger than necessary and then trim all four sides by 1/8". Even while this significantly increases the labor required, it effectively produces cuts that are chip-free.

Using a saw blade made for Melamine and other veneered goods is an additional choice. Alternating Top Bevel, melamine plywood or ATB, is the name given to these blades. When used with a zero clearance insert and when they are sharp, they are quite effective. An extremely efficient blade for cutting both melamine and veneered plywood is the Duraline Hi AT blade, which is produced by Forrest Blade Company. Several makers of blades also produce blades for this use.

When bought from wholesalers, the edges are frequently left untrimmed, and handling the product is quite risky due to the solidified resin. Gloves are essential since the resin is razor-thin, fragile, and similar to the edge of a serrated knife. Gloves should still be used since even if sheets bought from retail stores are trimmed and don't have these jagged edges, the edges are still extremely sharp.

To stop formaldehyde from seeping into the air, edges should be sealed. Similar to plywood, it has applied solid wood edges or exposed edges with edge banding. The typical white and yellow PVA clues won't stick to the smooth surface of melamine, therefore TiteBond produces a glue specifically for that material.

Due to the characteristics of the material, face&back plywood melamine is utilized with specialized hardware. Confirmat fasteners are made to have the strongest possible grip on the material's edges. They work with a unique drill bit that was also created with the material in mind.

Wooden dowels are used to place the parts and knock down fasteners, which enable parts to be attached with a screwdriver or Allen wrench, are utilized to speed up assembly. These fasteners are made up of two parts: a stud that screws into the melamine's edge, and a cam-shaped component that goes into a hole that has been bored partially through the piece.

When the cam is turned, the two components are drawn together and locked into position. The process can be reversed, so the furniture can be taken apart if needed.