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Old 09-04-2004, 11:44 AM   #1
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Cutting Formica

OK - we have the new laminate. We have the router bit for trimming. Now, we need some help as this is a new venture. Now, what do we use to make the "rough" cuts, so the pieces we deal with are somewhat larger than the finished size we will need, prior to gluing and trimming? Especially with the cutting boards which have the laminate protruding past the wood base it sits on? Do we use a circular saw? Scroll saw? From which side do you initiate the cut to prevent splintering of the "up" side?
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Old 09-04-2004, 12:08 PM   #2
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COArgosy78,

Use a hand held carbide crooked necked cutting / scoreing knife. They are available were ever laminate is sold for less than $5. Also use a straight edge to aline the cut. Score a few times, then snap the laminate apart. No mess or dust, Be careful, snapped laminate can be very sharp. I usually aim for a quarter of an inch or less of over lap to make it easy for the router to trim.

Don't forget, as a final touch, to smooth the laminate edges with a file once you are done with the router.
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Old 09-04-2004, 12:27 PM   #3
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I bought a nice cutter at Lowe's. It's a hand operated shear and it leaves a pretty clean cut. I think it was $20. It was with the adheasive and rollers next to the raw formica.
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Old 09-04-2004, 01:18 PM   #4
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When using a saw....

You want the blade to be rotating "down" towards the colored laminate surface to minimize chipping, with a table saw the color side is up, with a circular saw you want it down. I don't recomend sabre saws they will usually chip no matter which side is up The shears and the scoring knife are excellent low cost alternatives.

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Old 09-04-2004, 01:41 PM   #5
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Thanks for the tips. I have a scoring knife I bought to cut some Hardy Backer. One other question: I need to have a finished piece of formica which will be about 1 1/4 inches wider than the wood base...these are for the sink covers. How do I go about making a finished cut to the formica without having an "edge" for the router bushing to follow? I will probably just adhere the new formica to the old, after roughing up the old formica first of course. Could I use the old formica edge as my bushing guide by setting the router bit at it's shallowing depth? It seems awfully thin for the bushing to follow though. Anyway, thanks for your input and suggestions.

Price (the un-handy man)
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Old 09-04-2004, 01:45 PM   #6
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Perhaps I can shed some light on working with laminates. Lay the plastic laminate sheet on top the item to be covered. From the bottom side, trace around the item to be covered with a felt tip or pencil. With the tracing on the back side of the plastic laminate, use a jig saw with a fine tooth blade to cut the plastic laminate piece about 5/8" larger than the tracing. Next, gather several dowels, or slats so you can place them between the plastic laminate and the item to be covered as you position the new laminate prior to making contact between contact cemented surfaces. You should have 1 dowel about every 4". I prefer to use strips of wood about 1/4" thick and 1/2" wide but 3/8" or 1/4" dowels work fine.

Next, make sure the new plastic laminate back side and the surface to be covered are perfectly clean and smooth. Any irregularities will telegraph thru the new plastic laminate. Coat the back side of the plastic laminate with contact cement. One way is to use foam rollers and a paint tray available at Marine Stores. You can also brush it and, you can also pour some on the surface then use a strip of wood to spread it around. Then coat the surface to be covered with plastic laminate. If the surface is porous, like wood, after about 10 minutes give it a second coat. After the final coat on the surface to be covered has dried about 10 minutes, place the dowels out across the surface in a parallel layout.

Dowels should be placed about 4-6" apart. Next place the new plastic laminate on top the dowels with the cemented side toward the item to be covered. Separating the two contact cemented surfaces with dowels allows the new plastic laminate to be carefully positioned prior to removing the dowels. Once the contact cement surfaces are touched together they can't be repositioned. Once you are satisfied you have positioned the new plastic laminate so it will completely cover the item below, carefully pull one of the center dowels out a bit, then make contact between the two contact cemented surfaces. As you remove the 1st dowel, continue to press together the two cemented surfaces. Next remove one of the dowels that was next to the 1st dowel and press the cemented surfaces together. From the center, move toward the outside edges, pulling dowels as you proceed and pressing the surfaces together.

With all dowels removed you next need to make sure the new plastic laminate is firmely pressed against the surface to be covered. You can use a rubber mallet and gently pound the surfaces, or you can put a rag in you hand and firmly pressing on the rag, rub the top of the new plastic laminate.

To "final" trim the plastic laminate to fit the surface below, use a router and a flush trim bit. This will give you an excellent perfectly matched edge. After routing the perimeter, very sharp edges will be left, use a file, or a piece of fine sand paper and a block to slightly ease these edges.

When applying plastic laminate to countertops, do edges and ends first, then do the top.

Also, check out this: http://alsnetbiz.com/homeimprovement/formica.html

Again, do the edges first, then do the top, otherwise items slid across the top can catch on the edge and damage, chip, or dislodge it. If the top overlaps the edge, there is nothing for things to get caught on.
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Old 09-04-2004, 02:12 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by COArgosy78
How do I go about making a finished cut to the formica without having an "edge" for the router bushing to follow?
Use the current sink cover as a template. Cut a piece of plywood to the outer dimension of the sink cover. Cut out the center of the plywood so the sink cover with the cutting board will fit inside the inner cutout. This will allow you to use the new oval as a jig. Clamp the freshly glued piece,attached to the original cutting board, and clamp to the jig. Trim as much as you can, then move the clamps and trim the rest. You will need to take your time and let the trimmer do the work. The clamps will need to be good and tight to hold the piece in the jig.
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Old 09-04-2004, 03:36 PM   #8
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Thanks Guys!! Have printed out this page and now that we have our digital camera back will try to post before/after pics when done. May be awhile cause I'm going slow and steady.
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Old 09-04-2004, 06:51 PM   #9
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Leigh ,

What are you going to use for edge trimming?

I am intending to do the the same thing this winter. That is, build a new dinette table and if it works ok, redue the kitchen counters.

Love to see how yours turns out!
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Old 09-04-2004, 07:10 PM   #10
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Tim- we thought we could get away easy and buy pre-cut laminate edging the same color as the new stuff we purchased, but no go. The pre-cut is not wide enough by 1/8" (We have a metal edge piece that goes on the front of the plywood that the laminate goes over). So... we are going to attempt to cut an edge piece ourselves. This, of course, will come last after much experience with all the rest!!! If all you creative, VERY experienced laminate Tim-the-toolman-guys (KIDDING!) have any tips- ideas on how to do that with a minimum of disaster PLEASE add it HERE, REALLY!! I promise we will post how it goes for us with a few pictures (hopefully of Price smiling).
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Old 09-04-2004, 09:03 PM   #11
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Been there done that

I replaced mine and as others say use the existing top as the layout.
The only problem I had was no way to bend the laminate for a back splash so I had to make a back splash to match. On the front edge instead of matching laminate I use mahogny wood to match the orignal counter top. I have pictures in the photo section under garry. that's "2 r's".
I now have a digital camara and plan to take better pics of the counter top, front edge and cabnet that replaced the orignal oven mounted in the wall.
Best of luck...

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Old 09-04-2004, 09:13 PM   #12
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When we did our kitchen counter in our A/S, I used the finest toothed sabre saw blade I could find. After the first piece of laminate was ruined with that method, we went with the table saw. Had much better luck, and did not ruin the second $39.95 sheet of laminate.
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Old 09-04-2004, 09:41 PM   #13
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You can set the table saw up to cut laminate all day to any width you want. You still have to trim it with a laminate bit and it's always good to hit the finished edge with a fine file to take the sharp edge off. When you apply contact cement to both the laminate and the substrait, use plain news paper between the two to line everything up and just slip the newspaper out ( it won't stick) as you press the laminate down. Use a laminate roller and roll it out so that there are no high spots or air bubbles.There are several types of flus trim bits. You can buy bits that cut a true 90 degrees or put a slight bevel on the edge.
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Old 09-05-2004, 11:10 AM   #14
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Craftsman has good advice, but I found in doing this that using large strips of cardboard is easier. Cardboard is sturdier and easier to pull out as you get the formica stuck. You have to be real careful with newspaper because should it rip you would be stuck with an area that won't stick down properly and you may end up having to tear up the formaica.
Cut strips of cardboard that are about 12" wide. After you have placed your contact cement on both the formaica back and the countertop allow it to become dry to touch. Then you can laydown your strips. Make sure that they cover all the countertop because if the formica comes in contact with the countertop it will be stuck and you can not remove it without breaking it. Afte the strips are in place lay the formica over it. Try to lay it directly in place and try not to slide it too much. The use of helpers is probably needed unless it is a small area.
Once you have it in place you start from only one end removing the strips. Press down in the are where you removed the strip and then move to the next strip and repeat until the entire sheet is down. Then you can use a roller to complete pressing it down, but be carful around the edges. You don't want ot break off an edge with the roller. Once it is down good you can use a router with a formica trimming bit to finish the edge work. When you come to an area where the router can't get to you need to use a heavy utility knife to score deeply along the edge. I place a steel rule along the edge and use it for a guide. After you score the formica you can break it off by pressing down quickly. The file the edge smooth.
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