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Old 03-19-2007, 10:34 AM   #1
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Lamenting the laminate

I'm have some problems with my laminating technique.

I'm making a small counter top and laminating the edges then the top. The problem is after the sides are done, when I go to flush trim the top with my router, I'm invaribly cutting into the edge laminate leaving an ugly scar.

I've tried using less pressure with the router, cleaning my flush trim bit. But I still must be doing something wrong.

Any ideas what I'm doing wrong?
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Old 03-19-2007, 11:23 AM   #2
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Tim the router I have is equipped with a limiter that keeps it from going past the set amount. It is a Black & Decker.
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Old 03-19-2007, 11:38 AM   #3
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Tim,
What type of bit are you using? The ones I use have a ball bearing guide on the bottom. The only other think I can think of is if your router is not set properly to the base. Ie; square to the bit shank.

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Old 03-19-2007, 12:04 PM   #4
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It is best to use a ball bearing guide to trim the outer edges of the Formica. Try raising your bit up higher so that only about 3/16 of the cutting edge is left exposed below the surface of the bottom plate of the router. Many times when novices try to do this and they only have one router and it happens to be a very large one it has a tendency to tip a little too much creating the gouge you are speaking of. I have small routers to do just this process they are dedicated to this function. If you are going to be doing a lot of this work take a look at Harbor freight they are selling a router that is dedicated to trimming Formica. I think it only costs about $35 well worth the investment. It even comes with a cutter. If you are using a fence to accomplish this all is lost. Also the bits that do not have bearings on them are worthless for this application.
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Old 03-19-2007, 01:33 PM   #5
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Thanks guys.

The router I have is a porter cable like this one. I don't think it has a fence.

I think this is the bit I have. Or its very similar. It does have the ball bearing on it.

So I'll try making sure the fence is square and only lower the bit just enough as needed.

I already have enough *Tim made that* marks in the trailer...
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Old 03-19-2007, 01:47 PM   #6
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If your bit has a bearing on it make sure that is not clogged up with contact cement because this will make the bearing immobile and cause possible burns on the laminate. By the way your links are not really working the way you want them to. I think they expire after a time then just revert back to the homepage.
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Old 03-19-2007, 01:55 PM   #7
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We used to use WD40 to clean and lubricate the bearing on the end of the bit, I don't know if that would be the best choice but it did the job...Also the little routers are sometimes listed as laminate trimmers. Both my trimmer and router are Porter-Cable, money well spent.

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Old 03-19-2007, 01:59 PM   #8
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SaabLover said everything I would have said. I have the 'big' Porter Cable router and it is great for large tables and fixtures. I used to build store fixtures and display props so the bigger the better.....and faster. But for work on small projects at home I use a small inexpensive Ryobi trimmer. Much easier to control. Keep trying. You are still ahead of paying the big bucks to a cabinet shop.

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Old 03-19-2007, 02:31 PM   #9
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Tim,

I have had the same problem you are currently experiencing.

Specifically, I started out with a brandnew laminate flush-trim bit with roller bearing, and everything was great for the first few sets of countertops. In time, I noticed the bit, when set deeper than was really necessary, started marring the edge laminate.

I believe the bearing got contaminated with Formica dust & contact cement, and the roller bearings inside of the bit bearing got "polished" to a new, smaller diameter. The resultant slop let the carbide take a deeper cut than it was supposed to.

I think you need a new bearing for your bit. Of course they probably will force you to buy a whole new bit, though.

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Old 03-19-2007, 03:24 PM   #10
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Sounds like good advice. I'll pick up a new flush trim bit and give it a go. Don't want to waste much more laminate!
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Old 03-19-2007, 09:50 PM   #11
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Well....

After carefully and thoughtfully trying everyone's advice. I picked up a new flush trim bit w/ball bearing.

and........

It happend again for the third try!
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Old 03-19-2007, 10:21 PM   #12
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Maybe the angle between the side and the top is not 90 degree. If the angle was a little more then 90 it would cause the top of the side piece to stick out a little more then the area where the bearing is at. Just a thought....
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Old 03-19-2007, 11:36 PM   #13
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Apparently the corner isn't 90 degrees so the trimmer isn't able to work properly. What I would do now, and I have done it, is to file the edge. I isn't that difficult. Just run a fine/medium flat file at a slight angle away from verticle slowly and gradually work along the edge.

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Old 03-19-2007, 11:42 PM   #14
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Yep. That must be it.

I was thinking I'll just make a new top all together when I get some more time. Frustration has set in.

Neil, are you suggesting the file to make it a true 90 then re-laminate?
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Old 03-19-2007, 11:53 PM   #15
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...I would try a slightly angled router bit instead of the 90-degree. I think they come in different angles (without running out to the garage to check). If sett shallow, it'll just put a slight eased edge on it which also helps when it comes to catching & ripping off the laminate on a snagged shirt, belt loop etc. Try it on a test piece first...just to see if it goes better and to test the depth settings.

2-Wing Bevel Laminate Trim

Just my limited two-cents. Sorry you are having so much trouble...this sort of thing drives me nutz! Maybe it's time to take a breather from this project & go try something else for awhile ~

Good luck ~

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Old 03-20-2007, 01:23 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Safari Tim
Yep. That must be it.

I was thinking I'll just make a new top all together when I get some more time. Frustration has set in.

Neil, are you suggesting the file to make it a true 90 then re-laminate?
Well, you will have to re-laminate because you need to get a flush meeting of the top laminate over the edge, face (which I am sure you laminated and trimmed before gluing the top laminate). If you decide not to remake the counter, and you don't have too because you may just goof the next edge too. Here is how I would trim it. First laminate your 1 1/2" - 2" edge and trim that with your router. Then cut the top laminate to as close to fitting leaving maybe about 1/8" overlap especially where you are having your problem. Carefully glue the top in place. If the only place your router is digging in is on that short side don't trim that with the router. Trim the other sides with it. Then get a flat fine to medium file and work down vertically slowly until you get the idea. Hold the file vertically at a very slight angle in towards the top of the counter and file downward and along the edge at the same time. Kinda like a ferrier files a horseshoe on a hoof. Just be gentle. Carefull not to cut in beyond the edge's (face) thickness. Don't worry about the slight inward angle..you shouldn't want a sharp 90 degree edge anyway. I hope I have described the process clearly.

We live a half of a big state from each other otherwise I would come and help/do it for you.

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Old 03-20-2007, 03:49 AM   #17
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Are you sure it is not the bit?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Safari Tim
... I picked up a new flush trim bit w/ball bearing. ... It happend again for the third try!
Are you using a using a good quality bit? Perhaps the new bearing is either undersized or pre-worn-out (too much slop) right out of the box.

Lay the bit near the corner of a flat, hard surface, and put your thumb on the bearing. Then rotate the shaft I see if the carbide scrapes the surface appreciably.

If all else fails, mask the edge laminate with a layer of masking tape before trimming the top laminate. The tape's thickness will keep protect the surface from the bit. If the top laminate is not flush enough, then hand-file the few thousandths remaining.

Tom
p.s. I have done this before, and it works.
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Old 03-20-2007, 06:01 AM   #18
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Been there, done that

Tim,

I know exactly what you're going through. The guy at the counter top place did it like it was nothing but when I did it, I had to be really careful (and still had some gouges). He used a swab of vaseline on the laminate where the bearing came in contact with the laminate. He used a Rotozip (or similar), same as me. It seams a large router would be bulky.

The masking tape idea is a good one as well. The idea is to cut the edge off flush and use a file to bevel the corner. (That's what the professionals do.)

I think I replaced the edges on my first table about 3 times before I could live with it (and it had one or two small "spots").

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Old 03-20-2007, 08:00 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InsideOut
...I would try a slightly angled router bit instead of the 90-degree. I think they come in different angles (without running out to the garage to check). If sett shallow, it'll just put a slight eased edge on it which also helps when it comes to catching & ripping off the laminate on a snagged shirt, belt loop etc. Try it on a test piece first...just to see if it goes better and to test the depth settings.

2-Wing Bevel Laminate Trim

Just my limited two-cents. Sorry you are having so much trouble...this sort of thing drives me nutz! Maybe it's time to take a breather from this project & go try something else for awhile ~

Good luck ~

Shari


Shari, your suggestion is a really good one I used to use those bits myself. But since I got my laminate trimmers I really don't need to anymore as I've become quite proficient in using the straight bits without any difficulty. But those bits are really great as you can adjust them up and down gauging how much of the laminate you cut off. By raising it up at its highest point where it still cuts you leave a slight edge over hang in with a bevel. The amount that is left is not very much to file off. You have to file no matter what you do as the edge that is left is fairly sharp and will cut you if you don't file it. From the look of the gouge that is left by your last trim section it appears to me that your bit is still to low. Keep raising it up until you just cut the laminate. If you're over hang is larger than a 1/4" you're leaving too much you need to cut it closer to the edge so you do not have to apply so much strength to push the router through the cut. What I do for my to laminating I allow the glue to dry to the touch and then I put 1/4" sticks in between the top surface in the laminate to keep it from sticking until I can position it properly. I have also used newspaper for this but the glue needs to be completely dry to use the paper as it may stick otherwise usually takes about an hour. Make sure the base of your router is secured tightened if you is at all lose it'll cause those cuts into the edge as it will be tipping. Also if you are trying to cut the larger overhang you have a tendency to push harder in the wrong direction thus making the router tip in to the cut. Other things will help as well like as suggested putting gasoline on the vertical helps somewhat we used to do that before they put bearings on the bottom of the cutters. The Roto-zip hasn’t any bearings. This is why they need the Vaseline. But if you let these trimmers in one spot too long it does not matter how much Vaseline you apply it will still burn. When you do you're trimming it is imperative that you keep the router at a 90 angle to the cut any variation will cause these burnouts. It looks to me as if your counters are at 90 degrees to the top if they are not you must make it so. You know that you can delaminate Formica with lacquer thinner, just don't let it hit any of the other finish as it will dissolve it. Do this in a well ventilated area wearing a toxic mask filter and neoprene gloves. I always do my Formica laminating on the countertops before I install them.These burnouts rarely happened to me as I eliminate all of the issues that I mentioned above. It is too costly to make mistakes like this when you're in the business wasted material and wasted time cost me big$$. Please look at your equipment make sure it is proper for the job. When pressing down the laminate I usually take a 6 inch cut off 2 x 4 and use it as a press by tipping it in 45° angle to the surface and rubbing it all across the top. I also have a rubber rollers for this as well. I am suggesting the block as there is no need for you to go out and buy the roller for one job. Again good luck be careful and much hope in your success.
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Old 03-20-2007, 10:37 AM   #20
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Thanks guys. I'll give it another go.

But I'll have to dig my router up out of the hole I buried it in....
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