Instructions For Cutting Laminate Sheets On A Table Saw
The video below gives a good illustration of how to cut Formica plastic laminate on a table saw. Although the creator of the clip did an excellent job, I want to make a few important points in regard to safety.
Because Formica sheets are so flexible there is great risk of the sheets binding it the blade if you do not use a sharp blade. In the video there is text on the screen suggesting that you use a dull blade.
The most important rule of cutting with any tool is that the cutting instrument must be sharp.
The only time you don’t use a sharp blade is if you are cutting through a board that has a nail, staple or screw in it.
Also, it is important to make sure that the blade is high enough to accommodate any curves that are in the plastic. The sheets have a tendency to rise up after they get pushed through the front of the blade.
Important Items Needed When Cutting Plastic Laminate With A Table Saw
- Safety Goggles
- Sharp Saw Blade
- Plenty of Room
- 1/8″ to1/4″ Thick Board To Reduce The Gap At The Fence Area (see paragraph below)
The Protective Board
Formica laminate is very thin (about 1/32″ to 1/16″). On your table saw, where the bottom of the fence meets the table top, there is always a gap. This is very dangerous because the edge of the laminate can get wedged in that gap while making your cuts. I was surprised that the creator of the Youtube video didn’t place an 1/8″ to1/4″ thick board on the saw table to eliminate the possibility of the laminate sheet getting bound in the gap.
This board needs to be made in such a way that it will not move when you are cutting the Formica plastic laminate on the table saw.
How To Cut Cabinet Laminate With A Table Saw
- Place the protector board on the table to eliminate the gap so the sheet won’t be at risk of binding during the cut.
- Put your safety glasses on.
- Make sure that there is nothing in the way of where the cabinet laminate sheet will be exiting the table.
- Turn your saw on.
- Grab your sheet of Formica plastic laminate.
- Hold the rear portion of the sheet considerably higher than the table height with your right hand. If you are cutting a full sized four-by-eight foot (4 x 8) piece, the placement of your right hand will need to be under the sheet. Your left hand should have a firm grip on the left edge of the sheet.
- Place the laminate on top of the protector board and against the table saw fence.
- Keeping downward pressure with you left hand and your right hand higher than the table saw, accurately push the laminate sheet through the saw bale. You must keep the edge of the plastic tight to the fence.
- When you are nearing the end of the cut, grab the edge of the sheet with your right hand and push it past the critical binding area of the table saw blade.
How To Cut Countertop Laminate With A Table Saw
In order to make accurate sizes of Formica for your countertops, you will need to follow the above steps when making the laminate cuts with a table saw. Countertop laminate is thicker than cabinet mica. Even though it is thicker, you still need to use a protective board on the table top of the table saw.
There are several different methods that can be used for cutting laminate. If you would prefer to cut smaller pieces on the table saw, precut the sheets with a router and straight edge.
I always suggest that you use clamps to hold the laminate in place. This method works great for getting five-by-twelve (5′ x 12′) pieces of plastic cut to a manageable size for cutting with your table saw.
Click here to learn how to cut Formica strips without using your table saw. If you do decide to try and cut them on the table saw make sure that you push the thin pieces of Formica plastic laminate past the blade by using a push stick.