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Thread: cutting formica

  1. #1
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    cutting formica

    I need to cut a panel of formica. What is the best way to do this? I will be gluing it to a piece of plywood. I need to cut it befor I apply it. I will cut it oversize so it can be trimmed to a clean edge with a router. Was just wondering how to go about cutting the panel.

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    RE: cutting formica

    Three ways spring immediately to mind. I've had good luck (if the Formica is WARM!!!) with "aviation snips".

    The second way is the "score-and-snap" method, which works a lot like cutting glass. You score the Formica with a box knife and a straightedge, then fold it at the score line to snap it off.

    The third way is pretty anal, and related strongly to the second. You score repeatedly with a box knife and a straightedge until you've scored all the way through the material.

    It's true that you COULD easily enough cut it with a table saw, a very fine-toothed blade, and a ZC insert. I've resized Venetian blinds that way.

    Since that much is true, it's also true that you could do the same with a handheld circular saw... but first you'd want to make up a ZC shoe plate for it - and with that comes retraining yourself to NOT set the saw down until the motor's stopped (DAMHIKT).

    OR... yeah. There are lots of ways. You could even use a "guillotine" paper shear.

    -- Tim --



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    RE: cutting formica

    I do it on my tablesaw, bandsaw or my handheld circular saw. You want a fine-toothed blade and cut it at least an inch or so oversized in case you get some chipping (if it's cold). Also, mind the dust from it, the underlayment (i think) is a phenolic plastic resin that has some pretty sticky edges that'll find their way all over your clothes.

    I've never tried the snipping or score/snap method before and may have to give it a shot sometime. I've only had a problem with the above methods when the material was real cold and/or I used a blade with few teeth. The more the better - even a plywood blade.

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    RE: cutting formica

    As already stated there are many ways to cut Formica. The two most common thicknesses 1/32" (vertical grade), and 1/16" (horizontal grade) can be cut the same.

    In using a snips, there are three snip types that can be confusing to choose from. There are straight cutting snips and ones that are designed to cut curves to the left, and ones to cut curves to the right. All of them work best when they are used keeping their orientation perpendicular to the material being cut. IOW don't tip the snips as you cut with them.

    In addition to the methods already discussed, it can be cut with a router and a trim bit with a bearing. Clamp a straightedge on the material (on the bottom if the bit has a bearing on the bottom), and pass the router in the direction that the flutes face. IOW, you want the cutting to be done "into" the material. This method can also be used to finish trim a piece to be an exact size if necessary.

    A tip for cutting on the table saw. Just about any blade will cut it. High tooth count works best. The blade should be raised fairly high as the force of the blade has the tendency to lift the material. Being so thin, the fence edge can trap the material where the fence meets the table. So lay a spacer on the table up against the fence to raise the sheet to a solid part of the fence. I use a piece of 1/4" plywood that I've attached a strip of wood on the underside that hits the table and keeps it from sliding forward as the sheet is being cut.

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    RE: cutting formica

    Thanks guys: I don't think I can cut it on the table saw because it is to flimsy and large to handle. I have to make straight cuts 90 degrees to each other. Metal snips may work it is about 70 in the shop. The knife idea sounds good,I'm thinking I can drill a hole where the two cuts meet and keep them from telegraphing on through. I'm thinking utility knif and multi cuts. I have a table large enough to lay the whole panel on. Thanks:)

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    RE: cutting formica

    Fred,
    What I usually do is to draw the size and shape that I need, oversize by about 2". Then just feed it through the table saw. If necessary, clamp a piece of plywood to your fence to prevent the high pressure laminate from sliding under the fence.

    Then after gluing in place, I trim with a router. I've never found the need to be that precise in cutting the laminate itself.


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    RE: cutting formica

    I got it cut and installed. Used a piece of plywood for straight edge and utility knife. Kept breaking the tips off the blade. I got a bit of chip out in one place but the router took it out. the glue was a gell (thick) but it worked ok. First time I ever used it. Turned the heat up to 85 then turned the heater off.

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    RE: cutting formica

    Fred,
    What kind of glue?

    I've always used contact cement but never heard of gel.

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    RE: cutting formica

    Rich: The brand is Weldwood Gel contact cement. It isn't as messy as the old type. I got it at Lowes and didn't notice that it was gel till I opened it. I hadn't used any for years and was expecting a stringy mess but it went on real nice and seemed to work great. I waited 20 minutes and put stuck them togeather and rolled it an it looks great.

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