Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Favorite Tool: Part II

Having lost time, money and patience with the standard methods of cutting counter top laminate I wracked my brain to come up with a way that I could A: cut the laminate right-side up, B: cut it cleanly without chipping the surface and C: reduce the chances that the laminate would crack at the inside corners when handled. The answer came, as usual, when I was working on a project totally unrelated to laminate.

My wife asked me for something to help organize the bills. She pointed to an ad in a magazine for a rack that was little more than a slotted piece of wood with plexiglass dividers. "Oh hell," said I "I can make one of those."

"I know you can," she said "but will it look like something I want to have on my desk?"

"Oh ye of little faith!" I responded, my cabinetmaker soul cut to the quick.

It's easy to cut slots in wood with a table or bench saw, but if you want clean cuts with no chipping your best bet is a router and a flute bit. A flute bit cuts a straight, clean, up and down slot and comes in sizes ranging from 1/16th inch up to God-knows-what for industrial applications.

To cut a long story short, it was during this project that I realized that what could cut wood cleanly could also cut laminate and I started experimenting. I found that a laminate router with an 1/8th inch flute bit and clamped straight edges would give me factory edge cuts every time. I can cut the laminate face up and, since I began using this method, I have yet to have a piece of laminate crack at an inside corner. And this was only the beginning...

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