Tools for Cutting Formica

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What tools can I use to cut Formica?
What tools can I use to cut Formica? (Image: woman with phone and saw image by Elena Vdovina from Fotolia.com)

Formica is a high-pressure plastic laminate that consists of melamine resin. It has a high tolerance for heat; because of this, it is commonly used for making kitchen countertops and other such things that need to be heat resistant. Formica is different from other wood materials and requires special tools to cut it.

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Laminate Shears

These are special tools for cutting high-pressure laminates like Formica. With laminate shears you can cut Formica quite easily without binding or chipping. When properly used, laminate shears can cut pieces of Formica up to 1/8 inch thick. The mouth of the tool moves in an upward and downward direction to cut out small pieces of laminate. With this tool you can cut circles or patterns. The good thing about laminate shears is that they can be rotated at a 360-degree angle.

Circular Saw

The circular saw, along with a 40-tooth carbide blade, is also a tool used for cutting Formica. This tool is used for making longer cuts and is not suitable for smaller, detailed cuts. You can use this saw normally, pushing it into the piece being cut, but this can chip the Formica. Another technique to cut Formica with a circular saw is to cut in reverse–that is, cutting the Formica by pulling the saw into the piece, cutting it from the back end of the blade. This technique is not easy and should not be done by anyone who has not been trained or practiced it first; it requires a certain amount of expertise and control.

Jigsaw

This saw is equipped with a fine-toothed blade for making accurate cuts and works well on Formica. If you have enough space, you can even cut Formica from the opposite side of the finished part of the lamination. A jigsaw is hand-held and electric. It has a flat metal plate that sits on the Formica; when the trigger is pulled the thin blade moves up and down. You can cut straight or in a weaving motion.

Router

A router is an electric hand-held tool that sits flat on the piece to be cut. It has a bit that is locked into the middle of the machine. When the machine is turned on this bit spins rapidly in a circle, cutting the material. Formica can also be cut effectively with a router. You can purchase a bit for the router which is made specifically for cutting Formica. Routers are used for rounding off the edges of Formica countertops or other similar pieces. Routers can also be used for carving designs on the piece.

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