Cutting a melamine shelf to size

Hi all,

I have an almost metre long melamine shelf that is regrettably, slightly too wide for my cupboard.

It’s melamine coated chipboard, and I want to make it skinny enough to fit. My current plan is, score the melamine with a sharp craft knife on both sides, clamp it to the table in the space and very carefully use the hand jigsaw to cut along the line.

@woodtechs and anyone else with a shred of DIY knowledge, are there any obvious flaws to my plan? Other than the fact that im really going to struggle to do a straight line, and there will almost cerybe horrible tearout.

Hi Naomi,

I’ve cut melamine exactly as you’ve suggested. It works surprisingly well. Two suggestions though, instead of cutting free hand, clamp a straight edge to the board as a guide, it’ll just provide a bit of safety when cutting. The second point would be to finish the edge with a hand plane - planing melamine is quick and gives you a really nice edge.

Thanks! To clarify, it’s melamine coated chipboard - same suggestions apply?

Please pardon my ignorance but when you say a straight edge, you mean a big ole metal ruler right?

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Yes, you won’t actually plane the melamine coating, but the rough chipboard edge. You’d cut about 1-2mm away from your scored line and then slowly remove the protruding chipboard with a hand plane.

Yes, you could use a ruler, but preferably something slightly thicker that you could run the edge of the jigsaw along.

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Cutting with the jig saw and scalpel I suppose could work but you would have to cut away from your score line or else the blade will still chip the melamine on every stroke as it hits unsupported melamine. The best way to do it is either a track saw or on the table saw but you would need a good blade. Preferably a high number of teeth with a triple chip grind. I don’t know if they have such a blade. A shallow score cut first would minimise chipping, two or three mm. There’s ways of doing it with a router too, it all depends on the bit in that instance. I have heard talk of a track saw, if we don’t have a tcg blade a high tooth count crosscut blade would also work. Obviously it would need to be sharp and decent quality. Masking tape can be applied to the top of the board along the cut line( if using a track saw) to prevent chipping although in my experience the right blade and a shallow score cut are the most important considerations.

Yeah so I just read what someone else said and if you score( accurately on both sides) cut a fraction away from the line using a straight edge ie a straight length of wood and then finish up planing to the line it will work. I just sharpened the blade in the blue record hand plane so it will do a pretty good job. The blade in the jigsaw is important for your intended use. High tooth count, fresh or sharp and ensure the blade is actually not slightly bent.

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I Make sure that you score deep into the board, all the way through the melamine and slightly into the chip board on both sides. The score lines need to match up on both sides, easily achieved by using a marking guage first and then cutting into the marks with the scalpel. Remember to just score very lightly with the marking guage as it will almost certainly be too blunt to give a clean cut. Obviously a cutting guage would do the job but I don’t remember seeing one.
I should explain the reason I mentioned doing it with a track saw was because I seemed to think it was 11 metres not 1. I thought it was because I wasn’t wearing my glasses but I just realised that doesn’t explain it. I must be tired.