How to Cut Laminate Shelving With a Circular Saw

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Whether you’re redoing your closets or adding some extra shelf space to your laundry room, you’ll probably need to cut the laminate veneer particle boards down to size.

If you’re wondering how to cut a laminate shelving with a circular saw, it’s all about using the right blade for the job and taking the necessary steps to prevent the edges from chipping.

In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about cutting laminate shelving with a circular saw in order to do the job safely and successfully.

Why Should You Use a Circular Saw?

Circular saws are wonderful power tools to have handy – with a good blade they can cut through just about any material.

While not quite as accurate as table saws for long, straight cuts, they’re still much more accurate than jigsaws and other power tools.

Also – unlike table saws – circular saws are cheaper and safer. According to Forbes, more accidents happen every year with circular saws, but table saws are more likely to cause amputations and other serious injuries.

Man demonstrating how to cut a laminate shelving with a circular saw

Circular saws offer these following advantages as well:

Choosing the Right Blade

Most shelves are particle boards with a melamine veneer (a form of laminate). If you want to know how to cut laminate shelving with a circular saw cleanly, it all starts with the blade.

Here are the following attributes you should look for in a circular saw blade:

  • At least 80 teeth
  • Carbide-tipped teeth
  • Hollow ground
  • Thin kerf
  • Negative hook angle

A higher tooth count means that your blade will take smaller bites as it cuts – and therefore will cut smoother.

While 80 is a good number to shoot for you can also find blades with 100+ teeth that will give an even finer cut.

Carbide tips are also a must – carbide is harder than the steel body of the blade which means it both cuts cleaner and lasts longer than blades that aren’t tipped.

Hollow ground teeth have sharp edges, which means their angles are less than 90 degrees. This allows the blade to slice through the laminate instead of hacking at it and allows the teeth to score the surface before making the actual cut.

The kerf is the width of the blade teeth and therefore the width of the space they leave behind. A thinner kerf means less material lost with each cut, and negative hook angles serve to slow down the feed rate which will give you a better handle on the cut.

How to Cut Laminate Shelving with a Circular Saw

Now that you have the right blade, you’re ready to get your DIY shelving project underway. Here are the steps to follow and the pro tips you need to make splinter-free cuts:

Circular saw

Step 1: Measure & Score

Measure and draw out your cut line, and then score the laminate on both sides of the cut line using a utility knife.

Chipping and splintering occurs because the laminate bends before the saw slices though, so scoring the cut line ahead of time will help.

Step 2: Adjust Your Circular Saw & Make a Scoring Cut

This may seem like overkill after scoring the cut line with the knife, but it will also help ensure you get the cleanest cut.

Whichever side of the shelf is going to be the most outward facing, flip that side to the bottom – your scoring cut is going to be on the other side.

Take some painter’s tape and place it on top of your cut line, then draw the measured line over top again. The tape will help stabilize the laminate on the outside of the kerf as you cut.

Adjust your circular saw’s blade so that only ¼ inch of the blade is exposed, and put on your safety gear.

Power up the saw and let it come up to speed, then make the shallow cut along the score line. Your circular saw’s blade rotates clockwise and the teeth enter the bottom of the board first.

This means that the top side is much more likely to experience chipping and splintering, so making a scoring cut will go a long way towards making the bottom of your piece as smooth as the top.

Step 3: Make the Final Cut

Place masking tape on either side of the cut line on the uncut side, and then put that side facing down.

Adjust your saw so that the blade is only slightly deeper than the workpiece, and make your final cut with the ¼ inch score on top.

Laminate shelving

Make sure you apply steady, even pressure to the saw and you don’t force the cut. The blade combined with your extra precautions should give you a smooth cut without any unsightly splintering of either edge.

Finish the Edge

Once you cut the laminate board to size the particle board on the edge is going to be exposed. This may not be an issue if you’re putting the edge against a wall, but what if you’re not?

You can paint the particle board white to match the laminate in color, but the texture of the particle board will still show through.

To make the edge look completely finished you’re going to need some edgebanding or a strip of wood.

If you go with a strip of wood for a natural wood finish you’ll want to cut it to size first, and then use either finishing nails or wood glue to attach it.

As for the edgebanding, lay it over top of the edge with a little extra on each side and then iron it down per the instructions. Trim off the extra with a utility knife and you now have a beautiful edge.

Edgebanding isn’t just for melamine veneer either – you can also use it to finish off plywood edges for your other woodworking projects.

Conclusion

In conclusion, using the right blade and taking other steps to prevent chipping will help give you smooth, clean cuts.

Once you’ve mastered how to cut laminate shelving with a circular saw, you can finish off your edges with some edgebanding.

An expert at home repair, remodel, and DIY projects for nearly 40 years. His first experience came in completely restoring an antique home. Completely redone from the inside out, and restored to its original form, the home is a featured design by renowned Southern California Architect Cliff May, considered to be the father of the California Ranch Home. Now Dennis spends his time on fine woodworking projects and tool comparisons.