Plastic laminate can be used to cover a wide variety of household surfaces. Installing your own laminate can cut the cost of counter tops by as much as half. There are many tools used to trim laminate. Choosing the right tool is the key to your success.
Laminate Cutting Tools
Laminate is typically cut a little large before being glued down. There are several tools that work well for cutting out your pieces.
A table saw with a very fine toothed blade is excellent for cutting laminate. Most laminate is delivered in 4-by-8-foot sheets and a table saw with a large work table or feed rollers is best. Some carpenters like to run the blade backward to help prevent chipping.
A circular saw can be used much the same way. Make sure you have the finest blade available. Laminate chips easily. Blades made for light metal cutting work well.
A utility knife and a straight edge can be used to cut laminate on small projects. Run the knife along the straight edge to score the laminate, then carefully flex the material until it snaps along the scored line.
Powered Laminate Trimmers
Once your laminate is attached you will need to cut away the excess at the edges. Power tools can make quick work of this job.
A router with a bearing flush cut bit is the tool most frequently used for trimming laminate. Smaller routers are easier to handle, especially if your laminate job is large, requiring a lot of trimming.
A laminate trimmer is a small router specifically designed for trimming laminate as the name suggests. It typically had a specialized fence that allows a straight cut off bit to be used with no bearing.
A belt sander can be used to smooth out rough edges on laminate countertops, but is not recommended for trimming requiring more than 1/8 inch of laminate to be trimmed away.
Hand Lamninate Trimmers
Routers and laminate trimmers are fine, but there is typically some finish work that must be done by hand. A hand-held laminate trimmer is the perfect tool for trimming laminate edge banding. This tool features a razor blade, held at the optimal angle for trimming excess laminate. They come in single- and double-edged models.
A mill bastard file is a good fine finish tool for rounding off the sharp edges on countertops and laminated doors. Hold the file at a forty five degree angle to your edge, apply light pressure and work the file along the edge from left to right.
Some carpenters prefer to do things the old fashioned way, and a razor hand saw, with a little practice, can give you clean cut laminate edges. These saws feature ultra thin blades with very fine teeth.
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