Laminate vs Formica - Router Forums
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-20-2010, 11:34 PM Thread Starter
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Default Laminate vs Formica

I'm going to build another larger table. First one was melamine and is a bit small. Besides, I messed up the plate and the Freud FT3000 is not straight so....take 2.

I'm going to do this one in MDF. I like the look of the formica tops but have never worked with it. One of my concerns is plunging through it (either one). Will the laminate or formica shatter? Are there any tricks regarding cutting the plate opening?

I'm thinking the size will be about 24"x36" or so. Does it matter if the core is 3/4" or 1"?

Thanks,
Burt
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 07:59 AM
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I've worked with formica, which is a trade name. When plunging through, we just drilled our holes and used a newly sharpened bit and seemed to be fine. If I recall, I also scored where I was cutting, plus the template was also clamped to the top of the piece so it was like having it backed up like any other cut to avoid blowout.

If I were making an MDF top, I'd glue two 3/4 inch MDF boards as they are cheap and the extra strength is nice if you ever want to use a heavier router. I also love the new micro lams that you can now purchase. My buddy did that and LOVES it.

Good luck. I'm sure others have more experience than I and will give better advise.
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 08:08 AM
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I'm going to build another larger table. First one was melamine and is a bit small. Besides, I messed up the plate and the Freud FT3000 is not straight so....take 2.

I'm going to do this one in MDF. I like the look of the formica tops but have never worked with it. One of my concerns is plunging through it (either one). Will the laminate or formica shatter? Are there any tricks regarding cutting the plate opening?

I'm thinking the size will be about 24"x36" or so. Does it matter if the core is 3/4" or 1"?

Thanks,
Burt
Hi Burt - before we get going to far, what do you mean "not straight"? I've got a 3000 (heavy sucker) and am getting a new table put together for it. It looks to me like the router is going to have to sit in there at about a 30* angle to keep the speed controls near the handle accessible and to keep the router lift access points in front of the fence. Orientation of the router under the table should not be a big concern unless your making shop furniture. Centering, accessability and dust collection should be a concern for functionality.

As far as machining formica (HPL), for drilling use forstner or brad point bits, plunginging spiral downcuts also as the HPL is grainless for intents and purposes, I don't think up or downcut would make much difference.

As far as the top goes, that router is #13-14 so I'm thinking 3/4 ply topped with 1/2 - 5/8" MDF. Spans I'm looking at are 24 x 32". Leaving open option of running stringers the 32" dimension in front and back of the plate, depending on what the dust collection box would look like.. Still a lot of holes in the plan. Looking closely at the RT1000 and the Norm Abram approaches.
Hope this helps.

John Schaben

The problem with experience is I usually get it immediately after I need it.

Last edited by jschaben; 12-21-2010 at 08:18 AM.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 08:13 AM
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Hello Burt! I have made two tables, What I did is to cut the opening for the plate is :I took My Router Zip, and ground just inside the lines to cut through the Formica, then to My jig saw to cut the opening. I Had made a template and was able to cut the recess so my plate fit in nicely. I was a bit fearful if using the router to do the whole job, even tho I knew it could do a nice job, I think it is easier on a good bit to do as I did. Others will disagree, and thats OK. I just thought another idea never hurts

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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 08:22 AM
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Hello Burt! I have made two tables, What I did is to cut the opening for the plate is :I took My Router Zip, and ground just inside the lines to cut through the Formica, then to My jig saw to cut the opening. I Had made a template and was able to cut the recess so my plate fit in nicely. I was a bit fearful if using the router to do the whole job, even tho I knew it could do a nice job, I think it is easier on a good bit to do as I did. Others will disagree, and thats OK. I just thought another idea never hurts
Hi Howard, I agree with you on doing the through cut with a saw and save your good router bits. I've done kitchen sink cutouts plunge cutting with a circular saw and going round the corners with a jig saw. Not a whole lot different than cutting the router hole out after you have the rabbet in place.

John Schaben

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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 10:00 AM Thread Starter
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A few years ago, one of our contractors installed a switch in a wall that was covered with formica. The formica shattered all over the place. Granted, the contractor was a discharge hole and we had to redo all of the work he did but that bit of uglyness stares at us everyday.

For this reason, I'm hesitant to use formica but I love the way it looks. Note that the formica in the house is at least 60 years old which may have something to do with it.

What are micro lams?

John, the "not straight" comment should have read "not centered." I'm guessing that this is no much of an issue because I don't know how much a table router needs guides. BTW, how did you drill the holes? The centering kit I had was for a Bosch 1617. I used an awl thru the template guide and got close but one of the screws if off enough so I doesn't fit flush on the plate.

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Burt
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 02:13 PM
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I do not have a lot of experience but I would think it best is to always cut the wood out first by jigsawing or other means and then laminating the top and rough cut it out followed by a plunging flush cut bit to smooth the edge. To me it seems that you are basically melting the formica edge.
One thing about putting the formica on after the wood is in place is that you want to install the T-nuts or whatever you are using to secure the wood to the frame so that they lie underneath the top and not be visible.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 03:44 PM
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Hi Burt. I get countertop cutoff from a local millworks I use for fences, jigs and such and I cut it all the time on the table saw with a fine fine blade. Have use a 60 tooth on the circ saw with no large amount of tearout. Only thing I can think your contractor did was maybe use a 16 tooth framing blade and drop it in from a foot or so.....
Ok, Anyway, I wouldn't plan on NOT using bushings in the table. I didn't either until I tried them... Gives you a whole other way of approaching a project. Having options is a good thing.
I just used the sub-base as a template and drilled through the holes in it.

John Schaben

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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 04:08 PM Thread Starter
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I just used the sub-base as a template and drilled through the holes in it.
doh!
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 04:57 PM
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Hi Burt,
Don't kick yourself. The solution that is obvious to one of us is not alwayse obvious to others.

Arnold
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