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Routing Formica Plastic Laminate

What is the proper direction that a router must go when routing (or cutting) off Formica cabinet or countertop plastic laminate? The correct way of trimming the plastic depends upon what you are cutting. Inside and outside cuts are accomplished differently.

I watched a video on Youtube the other day, actually two of them, where the instructors were pushing the router in the wrong direction while cutting the Formica off of a cabinet and a countertop. Their misuse of the tool inspired me to create a video teaching professional cabinet maker’s methods of trimming laminate.

There are two different scenarios that require different directions of moving the router, they are inside and outside cuts.

If you are routing out a sink hole, while resurfacing a countertop or building a new one, then your machine should be cutting as you push or pull in a clockwise direction.

If your kitchen or bathroom vanity cabinet or countertop laminate is being cut on the outside edges, the router should be pushed or pulled in a counter clockwise direction.

If you are laminating cabinet doors with mica, you are going to have to make a conscious effort to operate the hand power tool correctly. Putting Formica on cabinet doors takes a lot of different steps to complete the project correctly. You should stop and think before you cut the laminate in the process of making the doors.

It’s important for you to do this type of cabinet work the right way. If you do it the wrong way, you may permanently damage your Formica. Routing off cabinet plastic is tedious work that should be respected by learning the correct methods of routing.

Always practice before working on the finished product, especially if this is your first time working with plastic laminate. If there’s any uncertainty, don’t cut until you are sure you’re going in the proper direction.


How to Route Formica

–Always wear safety glasses when working with Formica.
-Remember to lubricate finished surfaces where the router bit is riding on the Formica.
-Always keep the router moving. If you stop it will burn the mica surface.
-Never run your bare hand along the area you just routed off, it will cut you.
-If it feels like the router is pulling away from the edge you are cutting, you’re probably going in the wrong direction.

Routing off Formica in the right direction is crucial to accomplishing professional results. If you do not do it the correct way, you may seriously hurt the cabinet or countertop beyond repair and you may even injure yourself.

Here’s what happens if you are cutting it the wrong way:

-The router is going to pull away from the edge it was supposed to be riding on.
-You could lose complete control of the power tool.
-It could jump to the finished side of the plastic laminate. If this happens, the high-speed router bit “will” ruin your plastic laminates finish.

You might cut a finger because the router is out of control. It’s possible to get cut on the hand because the accidents in cabinet shops happen so fast due to the high-speed power hand tool.

So remember, counter clockwise on outer surfaces and clockwise on inside areas such as cutting out the Formica from the sink hole area.

Categories: videos
  1. Ron
    October 11th, 2010 at 16:13 | #1

    I recently purchased a new freud streight cut router bit to trim my formica countertop. The bit scored the face of the formica, it looks like the blade is just a hair bigger than the guide bearing…has anyone had this experience with Freud bits?

  2. admin
    October 18th, 2010 at 18:15 | #2

    Sounds like the straight cutter was actually a beveled bit.

  3. mcload
    June 14th, 2011 at 04:41 | #3

    Isn’t it just as easy to say to push or pull the router against the direction of the rotating bit?

  4. admin
    June 20th, 2011 at 05:48 | #4

    MCload thanks for participating here. In answer to your question; “No!”

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