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Melamine, Formica, Veneers

11032 Views 9 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  cabinetman
I am now totally confused. I have an Oak-Park router table top that I am certain is Baltic Birch plywood with a yellow veneer on both sides. I was under the impression that the veneer was melamine. I have the impression that the veneer (is it also called a laminate?) is to prevent warping of the wood to which it is glued. Is melamine a veneer? If it is, where can I find some that is a similar color? What is the relationship of formica to melamine or other veneers? I want to be able to use pencil on it an easily erase, as I can with the Oak-Park top. My intention is to make similar tops that might take different sized base plates. I have an idea for using the Oak-Park 7 inch base in a table, and I need to build extensions or auxiliary tables, and I do not want any of them to warp. What would be the best for me to use, melamine, formica, or some wood veneer?
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Hello mfhta.
You are correct in that the Oak-Park table is Baltic Birch and I am not sure what laminate they use but, I don't think it is melamine. Veneer is usually a thin layer of wood where as a laminate is a plastic. Formica is just a brand name of one of the laminates available, for instance Lowe's might sell Formica where Home Despot might sell another brand. That being said they are all basically the same except in price. You might have to do some looking to find yellow laminate but the big box stores and lumber yards might carry it or maybe special order it if you just have to have yellow. I used MDF boards covered with a slate gray Formica on my table because it was a cracked piece and I got it for a discount. All the laminates are easy to clean and don't scratch very easy because of the slick, hard surface and that is why they make a good router table. It is advisable to laminate both top and bottom to help prevent warping. I guess you could use a wood veneer but I would advise using a laminate such as Formica, etc.
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Melamine is a very hard plastic that is commonly used for covering wood shelving. You will see it at HD and other places as "pre-finished" shelving. It is usually very thin, just enough to seal and protect the wood. Melamine chips very easily. You might remember melamine dishes from the 60's. A lamination is simply something glued together. Plastic laminates such as Formica and Laminex are designed to be used as countertops by glueing them to the base material. Plastic laminate is the best choice for a router table top and bottom.
Hey Mike, don't you ever sleep? :)
Putting the laminate on the surface alone is not to prevent warping but to give a better surface to work on that is real durable, doesn't gouge, wipes easy and doesn't swell when wet like mdf or other wood products alone. If the laminate is put on the top side then it is put on the bottom as well, THAT is to reduce warping so that one side can't absorb more moisture than the other causing it to warp.

Melamine. Isn't that what they are putting in dog and cat food now?
The very same stuff.
seawolf21 said:
Melamine. Isn't that what they are putting in dog and cat food now?

Hmmm...... I am afraid that's one by-product that won't make a very nice counter top or router table :eek:


P.S. Seawolf you will see that your post says it was edited by me. In making this post I accidently hit the edit post instead of quote button. My apologies :eek:
George, I can vouch for the fact that Mike rarely sleeps, I have had two hour Skype conversations with him ending at about 4am YOU'RE time, and what fascinating conversations they always are. Harry
Melamine is a low pressure laminate that is usually chemically applied to a composite board at the factory. It differs from Formica and other brands of plastic laminate in that plastic laminate sheet is a high pressure laminate.

High Pressure Laminate (HPL) like Formica brand is available in basically two thicknesses. The thin called sometimes V32, or "vertical grade" is intended to be used on vertical applications and is 1/32" thick.

Some manufacturers sell a plastic laminate thinner than 1/32" called a "backer sheet", that can be used for the "other side" lamination. It's less money that the 1/32".

For countertops, the other thickness is 1/16" and is recommended for horizontal application and countertops for its better resistance to impact. Both the 1/16" and 1/32" usually can be obtained in the same colors.

The big box stores don't always have a good variety to choose from. If you call some cabinet shops in your area and talk real nice, they may help you out.
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