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Cutting Plastic Laminate Strips

March 31st, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Cutting Cabinet Formica StripsThere are several different ways to cut plastic laminate into strips. The most accurate tool for cutting plastic laminate edges for cabinets or countertops is called a laminate slitter. Some people use table saws for making the thin edging pieces. At times a straight edge board in combination with a router is used for milling the plastic. We often use paper cutters and also tin snips for cutting the plastic edging to length.

It’s always best to cut the strips with the vertical grain being the length. This provides the most durability when you are working with the thin edges. Any time you cross-cut the grain of the sheets into thin edging, the small pieces are at risk of breaking during the gluing process. You must handle cross-cut laminate with care.

Table Saw Method

The most important thing you need to know about using this method is that the sheets of laminate are so thin that they can get trapped under the table saw fence. You must be careful to not let this happen. To avoid getting into this type of disastrous situation, place a thin board down on the table and against the fence. This will close the gap below the bottom of the fence and the top of the table. You should also use a push stick when cuttingĀ  Formica plastic laminate into strips

Plastic Laminate Hand Slitter

This tool is by far the best for cutting strips off of Formica laminate sheets. The smallest cut is about three quarters of an inch and the widest is three inches. There is an adjustment knob to accommodate the different thicknesses sizes of Formica. There is also a sliding fence to adjust the size of the Formica strips. Once the tolerance of the cutters is set correctly, you simple push or pull the plastic through the handheld slitter.

Paper Cutters

These guillotine blades work great for cutting Formica strips off to length. We have used them for years when resurfacing kitchen cabinets. For example, if you were re-laminating a cabinet face, you would stick the stiles first. Then, the top and bottom rail pieces would get cut to length using the guillotine paper cutter.

Router Combined With A Straight Edge

All you need is a long straight board, two clamps and a high-speed laminate router. Mark the sheet of Formica where it needs to be cut and clamp the board into position. Cut the strips with the router.

Tin Snips

These scissor like cutters work great for making any kind of cuts on sheets of plastic laminate. The only thing you need to be careful of is tearing the Formica. Also, the left side of the cut is always the clean edge. Usually the right sides gets small chips in the surface of the plastic and is not in acceptable condition to be used.

The fastest way to cut Formica for countertop edges, cabinet faces or door edging is by using the hand slitter. The second choice would be cutting them on a table saw. Now you can cut any strip to length using a chop saw, radial arm saw, tin snips, paper cutter or router.

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