How To: Make Perfect, Chip-Free Cuts in Melamine and Veneer

by Chris Gardner

How to cut melamine and MDF correctly

Melamine-coated particleboard is an amazing resource for DIY projects: it's cheaper than plywood, as strong as MDF but less prone to warping, and comes with two finished sides that look way cleaner than painted sheet goods. It comes in large 4x8' sheets, or smaller, more usable sizes often sold in the shelving section. If you're okay with the white or black finish, it's the perfect material for custom storage and organizing tools.

Later today, I'll show you how I used melamine to create a custom, IKEA hacked desk, but first, I wanted to share a few tips for creating perfectly clean edges when you cut. Since melamine is a plastic resin, it's prone to chip and splinter. Luckily, there are a few easy tricks to get perfectly clean, factory-like edges. This technique also works well when re-purposed old particle board furniture with laminate tops, such as inexpensive pieces sold at IKEA or discount stores, or the rows of furniture found in thrift stores and secondhand shops.

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