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.
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.
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.