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Thread: Cutting Formica

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  1. #1

    Question Cutting Formica

    I need to make an inside cut on a piece of Formica that is 5x12'. The only surface I have large enough is the garage floor. I have a 4x8' sheet of sacrificial plywood that the Formica can be cut on. I have an 8' straight edge made of aluminum and it is pretty stiff. One problem is I have to hold it by hand as I cannot figure out how to clamp it. Now what to cut with... I can't use my trim router. Can a utility knife cut through this stuff? A couple years ago I tried a pair of air plane snips - NOT! any suggestions will be appreciated.
    If sawdust were gold, I'd be rich!

    Byron Trantham
    Fredericksburg, VA
    WUD WKR1

  2. #2
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    Byron..........When I redid my kitchen countertop (it's U-shaped) it simply put the contact cement on the area to be glued plus about an inch wider. I installed the sheet and then used my router with a flush cutting bit to cut it to shape. Then I used a file to square up the corners.

    They make carbide cutters for cutting formica by hand but ....the way my luck runs.....I'd hate to try to cut an inside corner with such a tool....
    Ken

  3. #3
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    Byron, you can score through it with repeated passes of a sharp utility knife. It may be a good idea to drill a very small hole right at the corner to help reduce the chance of an unfortunate split...the hole terminates the cut. I'm suspecting you need to create an "L-shaped" section for lamination and that it might be inconvenient to laminate as one big rectangle and trim with the router as Ken suggests. Correct?
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  4. #4
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    Bryon, consider this:

    use some double side turner's tape to fix the Formica to the plywood and the straight edge to the Formica. Then rough out the needed cut with a saber saw. The hard part is done.

    Grease up the kitty, and cement the Formica to its final surface. Grab the router and and trim bit and finish off the job. At the inside corner intersection, use a pattern file to finish what the router can't get to.

    I have cut WilsonArt laminate on my cabinet saw. Yes, I got some chip-out, but by cutting the piece 1 to 2 inches larger in all directions, the router takes care of the final edge.
    Best Regards, Ken

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker
    Byron, you can score through it with repeated passes of a sharp utility knife. It may be a good idea to drill a very small hole right at the corner to help reduce the chance of an unfortunate split...the hole terminates the cut. I'm suspecting you need to create an "L-shaped" section for lamination and that it might be inconvenient to laminate as one big rectangle and trim with the router as Ken suggests. Correct?
    You're right on the money.
    If sawdust were gold, I'd be rich!

    Byron Trantham
    Fredericksburg, VA
    WUD WKR1

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    The carbide scorers work pretty well. You can also run laminate through the table saw if you make a masonite pltform for it to run on (so it doesn't slip under the fence). I don't see why you can't use your trim router, use a small straight bit 1/4"? run it along the line you've drawn. It will cut the laminate and I don't have any trouble controlling the router.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    Canandaigua, New York
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    Quote Originally Posted by Byron Trantham
    I need to make an inside cut on a piece of Formica that is 5x12'. The only surface I have large enough is the garage floor. I have a 4x8' sheet of sacrificial plywood that the Formica can be cut on. I have an 8' straight edge made of aluminum and it is pretty stiff. One problem is I have to hold it by hand as I cannot figure out how to clamp it. Now what to cut with... I can't use my trim router. Can a utility knife cut through this stuff? A couple years ago I tried a pair of air plane snips - NOT! any suggestions will be appreciated.
    If it were me,I'd lay it face down on the plywood,use the straight edge to mark your lines about an inch bigger then the size you need and cut it w/ a circular saw w/ a fine blade.But,then again it's not me.

  8. #8
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    During my short stint as a "cabinetmaker", i could make 6-8 counter tops a day. Once the substraight was cut, including the hole for a sink, I'd spray the glue and lay on the laminate. To cut the laminate where the sink hole is, I'd grab the trim router with one of these flush cutting bits, turn it on and press the bit onto laminate till it broke thru and make the cutout.

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    Brian
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  9. #9
    Great excuse to get a F or E system Align the rail on top along desired cut line with sacrificial ply/rigid foam underneath and make the cut.

    I have tried the sharp utility knife in the past and I found that the blade would wander away from the straight edge
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    Laminate is simple to work with....

    .. and yes, your trimmer is great for the job. I have used laminate for eons. If you are covering something with laminate, you simply contact cement the lam to the substraight and flush trim. Then file five degrees off the edge. You can use a plunge bit with a straight edge, a reverse tooth blade* in a jig saw, or rip it with a carbide, 45 +tooth combination blade. * I don't know why more people don't use a reverse blade in their jig saw, anyway. I fine it clumsey to cut work upside down.
    Phil in Big D
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