Wood laminate is any piece of wood that has a composite surface. Typically, the composite chips easier than wood, and precautions must be taken to keep the edges smooth. Cabinets, specialty furniture, countertops, shelving and almost anything you would normally build from plywood can also be built from wood laminate.
Wood laminate is also refereed to as MDL, or "medium density laminate." It can come in a plethora of colors and textures. Typically it has a plastic-like surface that is waterproof and almost scratch proof, but will chip easily. Clean cuts are vital to prevent a crack or split from being initiated by the wrong blade. The smoother the cut, the less likely that it will chip or crack.
Avoid: Wood Blade
Normal wood blades used on most table saws are 1/8-inch wide. They have wide-set teeth that rip and tear wood out aggressively. The teeth on these blades also have what is known as a radical "set." This means that the teeth tip from left to right to cut fast. This type of blade will result in tears, chips, cracks or even shatter laminate. Wood blades should never be used to cut wood laminates of any type.
Cabinetmakers also use a 1/8-inch wide blade, but it has tight-spacing on the teeth. The tops of the teeth are also square cut, unlike the sharp cut edges on a wood blade. Square teeth cut slower, but much cleaner than any other tooth configuration. Cabinetmakers blades are used to cut across the grain of wood, or for clean cuts on plywood. This type of blade works well on wood laminate and is the standard when building cabinets out of MDL.
Laminate blades are specifically designed to cut wood laminate. They are much thinner than other blades, at only 1/6-inch in thickness. They have tight, square-cut teeth that are almost like an abrasive that cut clean, smooth lines. Laminate blades are far more delicate though, and care must be taken when you are using them. They drastically reduce speed, and you cannot force them to go faster because they will heat up and burn the sides of the laminate. Use laminate blades for the best cuts, just go slowly.
Alternative Cutting Methods
A handheld multipurpose tool equipped with a multipurpose bit accessory, a rotary tool equipped with a multipurpose cutting bit accessory, an oscillating tool equipped with a wood and drywall saw blade accessory and a handheld cutting tool equipped with a multipurpose carbide wheel accessory cut wood laminate fast and efficiently.
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