Cutting Particle Board / Melamine / Laminate; Blade Showdown and Method Comparison


The goal of this ible is to show you how to properly cut sheet goods such as particle board / melamine / laminated boards. I will be doing so with a hand-held circular saw, as well as with a table saw. But first, I will be comparing the quality of the cuts for different blades. I also debunk the myth that masking tape prevents chipping.

This can of course be used to cut other sheet goods like OSB (chip-board) and ply wood, but they won't be as finicky since they are not laminated.

Step 1: Material

You will need:

  • To do this you need either a table saw or circular saw (as required by your needs, or available).
  • The recommended blade for cutting the finished board products is the Bosch 10" 80 tooth carbide blade or with a hand-held circular saw, a 100 tooth 5-1/2" blade (iffy as results will show, but may be good enough).
  • The other blades tested are a 10" 36 tooth blade, and an 18 tooth 5-1/2 blade.
  • The other materials needed are the sheet good you are cutting (obviously)
  • Lastly, I did use some masking tape, but I don't see the benefit of this (in fact, it seemed to lower the quality when using better blades)

Step 2: Test Results

  • 80-tooth 10" carbide-tipped table saw blade (Canada)
    • Quality of cuts: excellent
    • Usefulness of tape: Made things worse.
  • 36-tooth 10" carbide-tipped table saw blade
    • Quality of cuts: passable, not great. Defects can possibly be fixed with a light sanding of the edge after the fact.
    • Usefulness of tape: none
  • 100-tooth 5-1/2" circular saw blade
    • Quality of cuts: passable, not great. Defects can possibly be fixed with a light sanding of the edge after the fact.
    • Usefulness of tape: none
    • Based on these results so far, a better quality circular saw blade would do a nice job. As we have seen, tooth count is not the only thing.
  • 18-tooth 5-1/2" circular saw blade
    • Quality of cuts: terrible, can't be fixed after the fact
    • Usefulness of tape: none

Step 3: Conclusion: How to Properly Cut Laminated Sheet Goods

It really comes down to picking the right blade.

  1. Use the proper blade. Preferably the Bosch 80-tooth carbide tipped 10" blade. If you must use a circular saw, read the next step.
  2. Make sure the blade is as low as it can safely be.
  3. Feed regularly and not too fast.

That's it. With a proper setup, it is as easy as cutting anything else.

Step 4: Cutting Very Long Cuts: Needing to Use That Circular Saw

I added this because when I made shelving in my basement, I had no way to use the sheet goods on my table saw. In order to use the circular saw properly, there are a few extra steps, but you can get good results if you are careful and measure twice.

Also, as we saw, tooth count is not all that matters, there are some higher quality high-tooth-count blades for circular saws.

  1. Use a sacrificial board. By having a board under, you can cut flat on the floor, and also there won't be anywhere nearly as much tear-out on the bottom, because the next board will be stoppling the chips from being pulled out.
  2. Stack the sheets you will be cutting if there are many, this will help prevent tear-out as all but the top layer will benefit form this added pressure preventing chipping.
  3. If possible, tack your boards together. I used screws in two corners. Make sure you pre-drill.
  4. Lastly, use another piece of sheet good's factory edge as a fence for guiding your circular saw, tacking it in place if you can.



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    2 Discussions


    Question 9 months ago

    I have a Pax wardrobe from IKEA and i need to reduce the height. I have never used a circular saw however i recently purchased medium tooth saw to do the job. Before i start would you say that this kind is ideal for a smooth finish. If not would you be able to reccommend which type of blade i will need.


    1 year ago

    Thanks for the info, helped me make a decision on what blade to buy.