Track saw, mfc, chipping.

22 Nov 2009
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United Kingdom
Top side is acceptable, bottom not great - it's the (new) 40t blade that came with the erbauer saw. Most of the cuts only show 1 side but some (shelves) will show both. I know I could probably cut from both sides but just wondered if a finer (60 or 80t blade would make any difference?



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When you say "top", do you mean "the face you could see as you were passing the saw through the material?"

Normally the face that the saw teeth are plunging into cuts well and the face the teeth are exiting chips and smashes because it doesn't have any support so the tooth edge plucks an area of the melamine face off.

To counter this you can do things like score the exiting face with a Stanley knife so the score line is next to the cut (and the cut line forms a stopper to the spread of the flake of melamine that is breaking off), or set the saw very shallow and score a groove in the face (but beware that sideways vibrations in thin blades can ruin the cut), then move the track a tiny fraction and run the cut, or use a sacrificial piece of wood (MFC offcut?) on top of the exit line so the exit face is touching an entry face; you cut through both pieces at the same time.

Specific MFC blades are also available that will improve the cut and if it's still rough you can clean it up with a router (new cutter, possibly even a spiral one)
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Yes, top/face is ok.

Thanks for the tips, I'll try them out.
I didn't know about the blade height so will reset that. I'm new to the track saw malarkey. This particular job is (what I call) "structural" shelves (that are screwed in place like the tops and bases) inside kitchen style tall larder units to increase stability.

You would need to crouch down and look under to see the chipped bottom faces but I still think I could do better.
is it a proper plunge saw or a saw on a track
plunge saw cut on the upstroke into the rubber
have a 95% fully enclosed blade that springs up into housing when released
did it trim the rubber on first pass and is it upcut at the front as from the blurb its not obvious??

ahh just looked and assume the detail on the blade guard is suggesting up cut??
so are the saw teeth facing forward ??

is the offcut the same or better??
is there any burning on one edge [blade out off line double cutting on the up stroke at the back edge off the blade]
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Well I've learned something there I didn't even look at the blade and just assumed it was cutting down, hence the chipping at the bottom! It is upcut I think - I've tried to picture the blade - so the rubber must stop the top chipping?


Rubber cut on first use:


Offcuts just as bad, no burning I can see:


This is the top butted up to an offcut to replicate how it will be fitted so even that's not perfect (especially as it's a dark colour)


I was considering one of these blades (80t) to try and improve things - presumably it can be fitted "back to front" compared to the picture? Is there a better alternative at a reasonable price?



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there light green trade blades are better' better with freid pro or dewalt to get longevity in your blades and check the kerf and bore size for fit
when you set the teeth just through by 3 teeth /2mm this means the teeth underneath are fully cutting forward not up or down so chipping should be near zero
and remember the plunge depth gauge may be set up for the saw base so 2mm extra for track and 2mm extra to get through the work
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Thanks. I've ordered this one as it claims to be for laminate. I'll set the height correctly and report back when it arrives.

Also not mentioned is dust extraction. I have recently done a lot of cutting with a dewalt table saw (used the 40 and 60 tooth saxton blades ) cutting kitchen units and shelves and a lot of ikea stuff too. Some times I noticed that the cuts were bad but then realised that I did not put the vac on ! it makes a big difference to quality of the cut.
I also noticed that some pannels cut nicer than others I think it depends on the quality of what you are cutting.
I had some little chips but after a quick sand they were not so noticeable. I would advise a light sand down of the cut anyway especially at about a 45 degree to very slightly round off the thickness of the laminate and this stops any further chipping during handling which are actually very efficient in getting in your hands like spade shape splinters..
Have to say your chipping looks perticually bad. Maybe apply more downward pressure ?
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Thanks. I've ordered this one as it claims to be for laminate. I'll set the height correctly and report back when it arrives.

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freud blades are pretty good, much better than the blade that came with your track saw

as others have said, depth of cut will affect break out

you will get a much better finish on MFC (melamine faced chipboard) with correct height setting and freud blade, but bear in mind MFC is extremely brittle and is prone to chipping -I used to cut it on a £20k panel saw and it would still chip slightly unless the scoring saw was set up spot on.

the other problem is that quality of MFC varies -professional 18mm Egger or Kronospan boards are better for minimising chipping than the budget boards available from most retailers for DIY market

tip: be very careful of cut melamine edges, its extremely sharp and will cut like a stanley knife if there a shards of melamine sticking out.
as an aside
ffx on ebay will often front load the price a bit to cover all or some ebay costs so worth checking on ffx as well remembering free postage above £25 and clearpay [credit] £10 voucher
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How to cut melamine mfc with a Plunge Saw and rail.

The rail rubber needs to be in mint condition.

When cutting the top edge using the rail, set the plunge saw so it only cuts a depth of 2mm through the board, instead of cutting away from yourself, set the saw at the end of the cut a Plunge 2mm and pull the saw backwards "slowly" effectively scoring the mfc, then set the saw to cut full depth.

To stop the underside chipping, lay the board you are cutting on a sacrificial piece of wood, so you cut through the board you are using and into the board underneath, this stops breakout on the underside.

Lightly sand both cut edges to stop breakout when fitting.

Some MFC just chips, I use 48 tooth Triple Chip blades.

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