The Formica Shop

Formica2You

Fabrication

Now that you have your main raw materials together it is time to get to work!

  1. Make sure the 1.5" edges on your raw countertop are good and flush, this assures a high quality bond of the laminate edge to the particleboard.
  2. Apply your glue to the edge of the top, three coats of waterborne glue here will reassure better adhesion due to the fact that it will soak into the open face of the particleboard. Three coats on the laminate edge itself will also be needed to assure a quality bond. A simple 2" throw away brush, or handy 3" roller will work nicely. If you are using a solvent based adhesive two coats on the front edge of the countertop, and one coat on the laminate will be needed.
  3. Once your adhesive is dry to the touch you are ready to stick your edge band. Let the excess overhang the top and remain flush to the bottom. Use extra caution when lining up your edge that you have it where you want it before it makes contact with the wood surface. Once the two surfaces touch they will stick (that's why it's called contact cement). Using a hard rubber roller or J-Roller apply uniform pressure to the entire edge band to achieve the correct bond.
  4. Using a router with a laminate router bit trim off the excess. There will be areas that your router will not be able to trim, like the inside corner of an L shaped top. We will deal with this area shortly. During the routering process there will be instances where the router bit will come in contact with the laminate (mainly on the outside corners) here you should apply a lubricant of some sort to lessen and even eliminate the router bit score line left behind. A trim-ease wax stick will do the trick. This wax stick will be used again when the deck portion is applied.
  5. Using a belt sander (an 80 grit belt would do the job) you can now sand along the edge area (always with the belt of the sander pulling in on the edge band (otherwise you risk chipping or tearing loose the band). This process will assure a true flat surface for the deck piece to meet nicely with the edge and give you a more professional look.

    If you have an L or U shaped top make sure the seam where the two pieces of substrate meet are also flush, otherwise you may sand this area to assure a flat transition and avoid a "hump" under your laminate. Here is also where you use the sander to sand down any laminate that your router could not trim. Bring your sander straight down on top of the excess laminate edge keeping the sander level and pulling inward, sand flat. Brush the area clean with a bench brush of all remaining debris and dust.
  6. Apply your glue to the deck of the laminate and substrate. When using the water-based glue, three even medium coats is needed on both surfaces. 100 percent coverage is required. One coat will work with a solvent-based glue. Keep in mind you will need a solvent based roller cover when using this type of glue. Allow to dry.
  7. Using your hand lightly sweep the laminate and wood surface to make sure no small debris is left behind, and that the two surfaces are clean. Position wood dowels approx 12" apart onto the countertop surface. The length of dowels should be longer than the top surface so that you can pull them out easily. Position the deck so that it overhangs the countertop at all points.

    Once positioned, starting at one end remove a couple of the dowels and stick that portion of the laminate with your hand (do not roll at this time). You are just sticking this portion so that as you slip out the remaining dowels the deck does not shift out of position. Now slide out the rest of the dowels as you move down the deck. Do not press down or roll at this point cause this could trap an air bubble in your deck. Using your wide roller, or J-Roller roll the center of the stuck end outward in one direction toward the edge. Now roll the perimeter of the top using somewhat heavy pressure to achieve a tight bond where it meets the edge. Once you've rolled out your deck use your Trim-ease wax stick on the laminate edge under the overhanging deck where the router bit will make contact. Once again, this will decrease or eliminate the scoring of the laminate edge decorative face. Trim off excess.
  8. The last finishing touch before clean-up is to file the edge for a smooth professional finish. The router leaves the edge of your top dangerously sharp and does not cut it completely flush. A laminate file removes this last little bit and smoothes out the sharp edge.

Clean-up

  • You can clean up the excess glue with mineral spirits. If you soak the excess glue with the spirits and let stand for a few minutes it will clean off much easier.
  • Remove the sanding belt from your belt sander and use it to hand sand the bottom edge of your top to remove sharpness or overhanging laminate.
  • Spray down with a glass cleaner to remove any residual mineral spirit haziness, dust etc.
  • Polish with Countertop Magic and you have a beautiful new countertop!