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Old 07-20-2004, 09:14 AM   #1
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Laminate hints & tips?

From past projects, I am comfortable laminating plywood for countertops, and have the appropriate tools to do the work. Usually, when a big hole, such as one to accomodate a sink, is necessary, I will glue-up the entire countertop, and then cut the hole with my jigsaw. The problem is big pieces of laminated plywood cut-outs, too good to throw away, are accumulating in my shop.

My current Overlander project is new countertops. Since the new sink countertop will be identical in size to the old one, I know exactly where & how big the sink, and 3-burner cooktop holes will be. With so much advance information, I am hoping to rough cut the laminate to accomodate the two holes before gluing the sheet down. Unglued laminate pieces should be more versitale than glued up cut-outs.

Cutting laminated plywood is no big deal. But cutting loose laminate is (to me). Normally, the only cuts I make on loose laminate are long straight ones, scoring the laminate in repeated passes with a box cutter.

Does anyone have any hints or tips for cutting sink-sized holes out of a big sheet of loose laminate?

Thanks,
Tom
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Old 07-20-2004, 09:23 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tcwilliams
Usually, when a big hole, such as one to accomodate a sink, is necessary, I will glue-up the entire countertop, and then cut the hole with my jigsaw. The problem is big pieces of laminated plywood cut-outs, too good to throw away, are accumulating in my shop.

Does anyone have any hints or tips for cutting sink-sized holes out of a big sheet of loose laminate?

Thanks,
Tom
I've got those cut outs, too. I also have a box labeled "Pieces of string too short to save".

A Rotozip or Dremel tool will rough cut your laminate. A really, really fine tooth sabre saw blade might work, but I've never tried that.

Mark
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Old 07-20-2004, 09:26 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tcwilliams
Does anyone have any hints or tips for cutting sink-sized holes out of a big sheet of loose laminate?
Tom,

I normally glue up the whole thing and then cut the hole too, but I am normally not reusing the OEM sink.

Try this:

Cut the plywood to size, cut the hole for the sink. Rough cut the laminate to size, leaving enough for trimming, lay it on the plywood and mark where the sink hole is in pencil.

Then glue as normal, just don't bother to glue where the sink is. Once the sheet is installed, use a drill form the top to punch a hole large enough for the laminate trimmer bit to fit, and use it to cut out the sink hole. This should leave you with a nice size piece to use for another part of the project.

If you have a small circular saw ( not a standard skill saw, they are too tough to handle on flimsy material) you could do the cut out pre glue, but the laminate being attached to the plywood is much easier to work with IMHO.
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Old 07-20-2004, 09:29 AM   #4
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Tom,

I'm pretty sure that you're going to have to glue it. Cutting it without a solid backing will resultin in tear out of the laminate. However, I think this works: Cut your hole in the plywood before gluing the laminate down. Cut the hole exactly. Do not cut the laminate, but glue it down. You'll get some adhesive on the open area but you can renew it later for another project. Put a straight bit in your router and tip it down into the laminate in the hole, near the edge of the hole. This cuts your starting hole. The chuck your trimming bit and cut out the hole, and now you have a piece of laminate, shaped like the sink, but without the plywood backing.

Also check wood working websites and WW magazine sites for more tips.

John
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Old 07-20-2004, 09:38 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tcwilliams
From past projects, I am comfortable laminating plywood for countertops, and have the appropriate tools to do the work. Usually, when a big hole, such as one to accomodate a sink, is necessary, I will glue-up the entire countertop, and then cut the hole with my jigsaw. The problem is big pieces of laminated plywood cut-outs, too good to throw away, are accumulating in my shop.

My current Overlander project is new countertops. Since the new sink countertop will be identical in size to the old one, I know exactly where & how big the sink, and 3-burner cooktop holes will be. With so much advance information, I am hoping to rough cut the laminate to accomodate the two holes before gluing the sheet down. Unglued laminate pieces should be more versitale than glued up cut-outs.

Cutting laminated plywood is no big deal. But cutting loose laminate is (to me). Normally, the only cuts I make on loose laminate are long straight ones, scoring the laminate in repeated passes with a box cutter.

Does anyone have any hints or tips for cutting sink-sized holes out of a big sheet of loose laminate?

Thanks,
Tom
I just started doing laminate and the first tool to catch my eye was a laminate sheer. Its a hand operated cutter and it works very will without a lot of chipping. You can make a pretty tight cut and hten come back with the router to dress the edge. I thing it was $17 and was with the laminate top glue at either Lowes or Home Depot. I am pretty sure I picked it up at Lowes.

You can make a wide curved cut but not a tight one. Honestly what I might do if it was mee is clamp the laminate to the top. add some 1/4-1/2 inch strips into the sink opening to make a place for the collar on the router to ride on and use the router to cut out the whole before applying the adhesive. Then you can come back and do your clean up cut with the router to get the little bit of lip left.
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Old 07-20-2004, 09:41 AM   #6
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Make a circular template out of old ply, using a 1/4 straight cutter in a router and a guide bushing on the router base, drill a hole through the laminate within the cutout insert your router and cut away. The template hole will be larger by the distance from the outside edge of the guide bushing and the edge of the cutter.The template can also be made perfectly cicular by using a router and a trammel.
Jack
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Old 07-20-2004, 09:45 AM   #7
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I take that back. I use the router and trammel to MAKE circular table tops.
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Old 07-20-2004, 01:10 PM   #8
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Saber saw works fine...

There is actually a special saber saw blade that is made for cutting laminate from the top (or good) surface. The teeth are reversed so that they cut on the down stroke instead of on the up stroke. I believe that I have seen the blade at Lowes. Also I did some laminate work recently in our kitchen (house not AS) and I found that a normal fine tooth saber saw blade also works fine. Just to be on the safe side I turned the laminate over and cut from the back side. It is also easier to mark lines on the back side by the way.

In any case I suggest that you cut out the plywood first, glue on your laminate and then cut out the holes. A router or laminate trimmer works fine around a sink opening. I presume you are going to use something of that sort on the other edges to trim them to fit the plywood?

I also highly recommend the newer style of less toxic contact cement. I bought mine at Lowes. It was definitely more expensive than the stuff I was used to using before but I was very plesently surprised at the lack of fumes and smell. In my book it was well worth the extra cost.

Malcolm
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