About two months ago, Delta mailed me one of their new 60-tooth melamine-cutting blades and asked me to give it a try. Despite the fact that saw blades don’t show up at my doorstep for free very often (actually, I can’t remember when the last time was), it’s been sitting in my blade holder for a while now. Here’s the reason: I’m not a big fan of melamine. I don’t use it often in my projects precisely for the reason that they’ve designed this specialty blade—melamine’s thin coating chips like crazy when you cut it.
At least with an ordinary saw blade it does.
Well, a couple weeks ago I installed this new 35-1060HG blade in my saw and made a few cuts with it. The results were very promising—there was no chipping on either the top or bottom edges of the cuts. But that was just a few cuts with a brand-new blade. I set it aside and went back to using my usual combination blade.
Today, I decided to really take this blade out for a test drive to see how well it would work over a longer haul. I grabbed two 30-in.-long pieces of 3/4-in. white melamine and installed a zero-clearance throatplate around the new blade. (I use a zero-clearance insert nearly all the time, so no reason not to in this situation.) I set the rip fence 1/4 in. away from the blade, and raised the blade so the gullets would just clear the top of the melamine board (around 1 1/4 in.).
Then I let er rip.
One hundred cuts later, that blade is still slicing melamine as cleanly as it did when I first pulled it out of the cardboard sleeve. Who wouldn’t be impressed by that? In fact, the blade not only doesn’t chip the offcuts or workpiece (top or bottom faces), but it leaves them with almost razor-sharp edges. Notice in the bottom photo of this post the big curl of skin on my left index finger. I tend to use that finger for applying downward pressure during ripping, and you can see me doing that very thing in the second photo. During one of the passes, a cut edge peeled my skin back, and I didn’t even feel it. The melamine sheared it up like a knife. That’s never happened to me before on melamine—and I think it’s pretty indicative of how sharp this blade actually is.
Delta’s melamine blade will set you back around $85 for the 10-in. size, which may seem like a lot of money for a blade you might not use very often. Just to clarify, it’s intended only for cutting melamine. But if you plan to cut a lot of that stuff sometime soon for a big cabinetry or countertop project, you’ll appreciate this kind of laser smoothness along the cut edges. It will be particularly beneficial if you cover the cut edges with edge tape.
I’ll be curious to see how the blade continues to perform over time. Melamine is fairly abrasive material, and eventually even the best carbide will dull. But this new premium sawblade’s C4 carbide teeth have certainly convinced me so far.
Catch you in the shop,
Chris Marshall, Field Editor