Melamine is a commercially manufactured sheet, widely used for the construction of kitchen, bathroom and other utilitarian cabinets. Melamine, a plastic laminate, is applied to the outer surfaces of a substrate, or natural stone, on top of press board in 3/4-inch thick, 4-foot by 8-foot sheets. It is less expensive than conventional plywood, is water resistant and easy to clean.
Things You'll Need
- Melamine sheets
- Table saw
- Screws-confirmat or wood
- Measuring tape
- Edge bander
Cut Melamine to Size
Design your cabinets and create a comprehensive materials list before you cut anything. Make scale drawings of 4-foot by 8-foot sheets and lay out the parts you need to cut to make the maximum use of the melamine. Laying out your parts can decrease waste and save you money.
Cut the melamine pieces to size using a table saw. Use a saw blade made for melamine; these blades have a tooth designed to prevent the chipping common with standard wood blades. Keep the melamine tight against the fence when cutting to prevent binding and create parts that are accurate and square.
Cut small parts by ripping them using the saw fence, then cross-cutting them on the table saw using a sled. A sled is a sliding cradle that fits in the grooves on the top of the saw. This allows you to cross-cut long pieces of material safely and accurately.
Assemble the Parts
Assemble the melamine parts using standard wood screws or confirmat screws. Confirmat screws are designed to go into MDF or press board without splitting it. Whichever type of screw you use, drill a pilot hole first to minimize splitting and maximize accuracy.
Strengthen the cabinets by attaching square pieces to their backs. The square pieces should be same width and height as the exterior dimensions of your cabinet. Be sure to measure the diagonals of the cabinet and make it square before you attach the backs; the backs will then maintain the squareness of the cabinet.
Cover the front edges of the cabinets, where the press board is visible, with adhesive melamine strips. These can either be applied with an iron and then filed and sanded down, or with a professional edge bander.
Attach doors to your cabinets with European hinges, the kind that are invisible when the door is closed. Install these by drilling the requisite sized holes for the hinges into the side of the cabinet, and screwing the hinges to the backs of the doors.
- Chowhound: Melamine vs. Plywood Construction for Cabinets
- Wood Web: Melamine Wall Cabinet Design
- "Build Your Own Kitchen Cabinets", Danny Proulx, 2008
- Photo Credit kitchen image by Rich Johnson from Fotolia.com
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