idea's for cutting a groove in a Formica top

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Forum topic by Don W posted 12-30-2011 12:03 AM 1860 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Don W

18717 posts in 2567 days

12-30-2011 12:03 AM

I built a formica desk eons ago. It was my desk in my office for years, then became a bench in a small shop. I’ve now moved it as an outfeed table for my table saw. The smooth formica works well for this application. I’d like to cut the 3/4” grooves for the miter gauge. I know I built the top with 2 layers of board glued and screwed about every 3” apart.

I’ve thought about just throwing an old router bit in my old router and hope for the best, but I know, unless I get real lucky, I’m going to need more old router bits than I have. I also have a good set of safety glasses, but hate the thought of testing them.

My other thought was a cheap blade in the skill saw and a guide.

I thought about lowering the table and adding strips to the top, but decided I didn’t like that idea.

Any other ideas besides just build a new out feed table?

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

7 replies so far

View JimF's profile


144 posts in 3293 days

#1 posted 12-30-2011 12:37 AM

Do you have a metal detector? You could draw the location of the grooves on the formica, then locate the screws to see if they are in the groove. If there are just a couple, maybe you could dig them out or cut them out with a plug cutter?

-- Insert clever tag line here

View FirehouseWoodworking's profile


706 posts in 3273 days

#2 posted 12-30-2011 01:04 AM


If you don’t have a metal detector, you can purchase an inexpensive magnet-type stud finder. This should locate the screws if you work slowly and carefully.

Once you locate the screws, you can go with the choices that have already been pointed out. But I’ll give you another.

You might be able to move the outfeed table left or right to avoid any of the screws falling in line with the miter gauge slots. If you can’t do this, I’d recommend you cut all the way through the table with a saber saw or circular saw and cut out the offending area(s). Then glue in a filler block of hardwood, add some reinforcing crossmembers on the underside, and then route the miter gauge slots in the hardwood filler(s).

Good luck.


-- Dave; Lansing, Kansas

View Don W's profile

Don W

18717 posts in 2567 days

#3 posted 12-30-2011 01:24 AM

I never thought about cutting all the way through. As I was think through that process another thought came to mind. If I flip it over I know where the bottom screws are. I always tried to stagger them top and bottom, so if I cut just off the bottom screws, there is a good “chance” i’ll miss the top screws to.

I don’t have a metal detector (although I should) and I’m not sure I can find any of my stud finders anymore.

I’ve got a stack of old saw blades, cutting all the way through may be the option if one of the other 2 don’t pan out.


-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Dlow's profile


70 posts in 2687 days

#4 posted 12-30-2011 01:28 AM

You could use your router or circular saw and set the blade depth to just a hair less than the Formica thickness and cut where you want the grooves. Using a utility knife cut the rest of the way through the Formica, peel it off and see if there are any screws to hit, if so take them out then go to town.

View NiteWalker's profile


2737 posts in 2577 days

#5 posted 12-30-2011 01:53 AM

I would try a rare earth magnet. Cheap and effective. I have a stud finder that uses rare earth magnets and it never fails me.

Dlow’s idea is one I would try also. Cutting all the way through and replacing with another piece of wood seems like more work than it should be.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View Brit's profile


7376 posts in 2843 days

#6 posted 12-30-2011 09:14 PM

Magnet to locate the screws. Sharp Stanley knife and a straight edge to score through the Formica either side of the slot. Mallet and chisel (bevel down) to lift the Formica. At least this method has a high Galoot Index. :-)

-- - Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Don W's profile

Don W

18717 posts in 2567 days

#7 posted 01-01-2012 10:46 PM

I decided to go for it with an old router bit. I just took the formica off in the first pass, then went deeper. I got lucky and only hit the tip of a screw on the last 2 inches of the last groove on the last pass. Its done and perfect (well not the router bit).

Thanks for the tips.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

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