Tablesaw Workstation #11: New Toy and Rough Cutting the Laminate

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Blog entry by JohninSD posted 11-13-2009 10:30 PM 3861 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 10: Back at it Part 11 of Tablesaw Workstation series Part 12: Danger - I may actually finish this thing »

It’s getting close to time to apply the laminate to the top blanks. I had purchased a 4×8 sheet of white laminate a few weeks back but had yet to rough cut it to size. I have cut the stuff in the past with utility knives, a purpose made laminate scorer/cutter, saber saws, and table saws. None of these methods is completely satisfactory for various reasons. The knife or cutter is OK for a few straight cuts all the way across the piece being cut but gets problematic when cutting inside corners as I always had to bend the laminate and break it the last little bit – just not patient enough maybe. The table saw works OK other than the usual hassles of handling full size sheets of flexible material and the need to use an auxiliary fence so the material won’t slip between the fence and the table. The sabre saw is slow and noisy and leaves a jagged edge. As I was browsing the web I ran across someone’s suggestion to use a laminate trimmer with a straight edge and a straight bit to do the rough cutting. I needed an excuse to buy a laminate trimmer anyway as the only other router I have is a DeWalt DW625 which will do the job but it’s really quite awkward to use – who needs 3 HP to run a 1/4” flush trimming bit? So off to the local Rockler store I went, where I picked up a Bosch Colt palm router, with a claimed 1.0 HP output and a weight about 25% of the DeWalt. Today I used it to rough out the laminate pieces for the tops. The picture below shows the result of the last cut.

Last Cut

The four pieces I cut for this project used up nearly all of a 4×8 sheet of laminate. It required careful planning to get all four pieces out of the one sheet. I measured, laid out, thought and rethought everything several times before I started cutting. This picture shows the setup for cutting out the last piece – not much wiggle room.

Last Piece

And here’s a picture of what was left over from the sheet.


Next steps are to apply a finish to the oak edgebanding, then glue on the laminate. Then I’ll measure the tops’ thicknesses and cut the MDF supports to length. There are 3 supports, one on the left end of the workstation and two on the right end, where the router table is. The inside edges of the tops, where they butt against the cast iron, will be supported by aluminum angle, cut to length and bolted on using the tapped holes that supported the original tops. I bought an 8 foot piece of 1.25” x 1.25” x 3/16” aluminum yesterday at the local metal store. For anyone who lives in or near San Diego, Industrial Metal Supply in Kearny Mesa is a good place to find this kind of thing for lower prices than the home center stores – they sell by the pound and usually have what I need or something close enough that I can make it work. No affiliation blah blah blah…

Cutting the laminate with the Bosch worked very well although it is a bit wasteful as the cut is about an inch and a half from the guide edge. Using straightedges instead of the actual workpieces could cut this down of course but then that would open up more possibilities of error – and I have enough of those.

-- John

9 comments so far

View Julian's profile


880 posts in 3552 days

#1 posted 11-13-2009 11:30 PM

I just use my circular saw with for rough cutting laminate. It works well and that way I am not wrestling a full sheet on the table saw.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View davidpettinger's profile


661 posts in 3227 days

#2 posted 11-14-2009 03:31 AM

I use my table saw, but I have a piece of aluminum angle 2 X 3. I clamp the aluminum to my fence, laminate rides in the aluminum, no disappearing under the fence, little waste, no jig to build. Cost?? about 3 dollars. But you still did a nice job optimizing your laminate.

-- Methods are many,Principles are few.Methods change often,Principles never do.

View JohninSD's profile


33 posts in 3188 days

#3 posted 11-14-2009 07:27 PM

Both good ideas – maybe I’ll try one of them next time – of course that may be 15 years from now so I might forget…

-- John

View a1Jim's profile


117126 posts in 3604 days

#4 posted 11-14-2009 08:17 PM

Looking good John

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View cabinetmaster's profile


10874 posts in 3585 days

#5 posted 11-15-2009 02:53 AM

I always cut mine on the tablesaw also using a small strip against the fence to keep the material from going under. Never had a problem. I only leave about a 1/4” extra on all sides. That’s enough to lay and trim off. But of course, I’ve done this for almost 30 years too….............. You leave less as you get more and more comfortable doing it.

-- Jerry--A man can never have enough tools or clamps

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3700 days

#6 posted 11-15-2009 03:03 AM

Looks good so far!

View MedicKen's profile


1615 posts in 3489 days

#7 posted 11-15-2009 03:21 AM

The left overs will make a nice table for the drill press!!

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their

View CaptClaude's profile


4 posts in 3268 days

#8 posted 11-17-2009 06:23 AM

Stupid question: Where do you get laminate? I am building something like your workstation and have cut up an industrial solid-core door for the wings. The door is mostly particle board with 1/8” wood veneer on the faces and two layers of hardwood on the edges. I want to laminate the top but don’t know where to get the stuff.

And thanks for the tip on the metal dealer, aluminum is always expensive at the big box stores. We have lots of metal suppliers here to choose from.

-- Boredom is a matter of choice, not circumstance.

View JohninSD's profile


33 posts in 3188 days

#9 posted 11-17-2009 06:38 PM


I got the laminate at Lowe’s – they had several colors but I use white for this sort of thing. If you’re in San Diego it’s the Lowe’s in Mission Valley. Home Depot didn’t have it that I could find – the sales guy said that the closest they had was the melamine coated particleboard.

-- John

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