Using a dado bit with melamine panels. - Router Forums
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-06-2016, 09:23 AM Thread Starter
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Default Using a dado bit with melamine panels.

Hi, I am making racks out of 3/4" melamine to keep my reptiles in. I want to make a 3" wide and 1/4" deep grove in each of the shelves to have the heat tape in. I was looking at some 1 1/2" dado bit but am not sure on the best brand or bit. I am also wondering how long a bit will last and how many racks I can make. Each shelf will have a 2' long grove and there will be 5 shelves per rack. Thank you! I am new to routers and don't know much.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-06-2016, 11:20 AM
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Hi Chris and welcome. Whiteside has been rated best for years now but Freud's quad cut bit are also very good. The dado blade will work and is fairly fast but unless the set has a negative hook angle on the teeth then the melamine will be chipped worse. A router bit will probably give a cleaner job but is more expensive to use in the long run.

You and Otis (OPG3) should compare notes. I was at Otis' house a few weeks ago east of Atlanta and he has a very impressive snake/reptile collection in his basement. Otis worked for the Atlanta zoo for a while when he was young and is very knowledgeable on the subject.

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-06-2016, 11:39 AM
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You might try scoring the edges of the groove with a sharp knife before cutting the dado, which may help with chipout. Make the score as deep as you can. Do this whether you use a dado set or router. Make two passes at least, no more than 1/8th deep if you use a router. Use a down spiral bit for the edges, it will cut downward which can also help with chipout. You can use a simple fluted bit that leaves a flat bottom, to clean out the middle section, or finish on the dado set. The dado set might be faster since you're making a lot of them.

If using a router, use a straight edge to run the router against, in fact, consider using two parallel straight edges set so the bit cuts the edges. If the bit to base measures less than 3 inches you will have to leave an uncut strip to support the base, or possibly have a long strip of 1/4 thick stock to place in the groove to support the router. This is why I would consider cleaning out the bulk of the groove with a dado set.

If you score the groove edges, consider putting painter tape on the cut line first, which may help avoid chipouts from whatever cutter you use. Make sure the cutter is wicked sharp.
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Last edited by DesertRatTom; 10-06-2016 at 11:45 AM.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-06-2016, 11:51 AM
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Just realized you may not have a table saw, if not, then the down cut spiral bit for the edges, a fluted bit to clean out the middle. I would probably not use too wide a bit since a little wobble would cause a lot of damage.. In this case, I'd keep that 1/4 inch thick stick handy.

If weight is any kind of issue, you may wish to glue on a hardwood edge front and rear to add support and reduce sagging. Just a thought.

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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-06-2016, 12:09 PM
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welcome to the forums Chris..
listen to Cherryville...

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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-06-2016, 01:34 PM
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Chris, Welcome to the Router Forums!

I'm the "Otis" referred to by Cherryville Chuck. Reptile keeping has been something I've done as a hobby and professionally for over 55 years, now. I've worked with literally every species of snake except sea snakes, most species of lizards, numerous species of chelonians (turtles and tortoises) and crocodilians. I have enjoyed working with all of them - but some much more than others.

I've built cages with Melamine and I've also had cabinet shops custom build cages for me from Melamine, but I'll never use it again! This is not, however; a criticism of you - it just means that for my needs it hasn't worked as well as numerous other products have worked!

You mentioned several things that made my "ears stand-up", one being heat tape! Experience has taught me that stuff can be very deadly to your critters! There are good kinds and terrible kinds, and one of the most widely sold brands has started quite a few house fires - even one of my own! I am very good friends with Bob Applegate - he is an avid snake and lizard breeder and former Fire Chief of San Diego, California and he can tell you stories about heat tape!

If you wish, you may text message me at 770-855-5482 and just refer to this note and give me your name and enough info so we can talk. Or, you may email me [email protected] I do not answer calls from unrecognized numbers, but I will be glad to give you my toll-free number.

Currently I am keeping 21- snakes and 3- lizards,

Otis Guillebeau from Auburn, Georgia


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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-07-2016, 09:00 AM Thread Starter
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thank you everyone for your help! Hopefully get some racks made this weekend.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-07-2016, 10:04 AM
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Default Whiteside Bits

+1 on the Whiteside bits. However, be sure to get the router speed right. Melamine just eats up carbide if the bit is run to fast. Whiteside stood behind and replaced a bit I ruined by running it too fast, and thanks to Mike in Detroit I found out that slowing up the router speed cured the problem. After slowing down I did many, many feet of dados in melamine bookcase sides with nary a chip out and no bit damage.
Customer service goes a long way in my purchase decisions and Whiteside is #1 in my book.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-08-2016, 05:19 PM
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Welcome to the forum! I believe that you have seen the type of people we have here- eager and willing to share their expertise and experiences.

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