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Depending upon the edge treatment, your application and trimming sequences vary. If you arc doing a self-edge, you apply and flush-trim the edge strips one at a time. When the edges are done, then you apply laminate to the faces and bevel-trim those pieces.

If you are applying laminate to an edge-banded substrate, you must be sure to flush-trim the wooden edge banding so the entire surface is flat and smooth. Apply the laminate to the faces, and bevel-trim them.

The third option is to apply and flush-trim the laminate, then glue edge banding to the panel. To complete the treatment, flush-trim the wooden edging. If desired, you can then rout a decorative edge on the wood.

Before you flush-trim laminate applied to the face of the substrate, you must check the panel's edges to make sure the pilot bearing will have a smooth, clean surface to reference. Plywood—fir plywood especially— sometimes has voids in the inner plies, and they can be exposed on the edges. If the pilot rolls into one. the bit will take a nice bite out of the laminate. Check the edges, and if necessary, fill voids with wood putty or the like, and sand them smooth.

A test cut on scrap is also in order before you trim the work. After the bit is adjusted, cut a piece of aminatc-covcred scrap. lay a straightedge across the trimmed edge, and look for a whisker of light under the Straightedge. I sually the cutting diameter of the bit is a mini-micron less than the diameter of the bearing. As long as the mini-micron really is small, you can shave the laminate absolutely flush with a lick or two of a file. If, however, the bit cuts perfectly flush or scuffs the substrate, you should try a second test. But this time, apply a stnp or two of masking tape where the bearing will ride on it. This should pull the cutting edges away from the substrate edge and solve the problem.

Although the nush-tnmmer generally leaves a satisfactory edge, sometimes you want a fit that's a little bit better than that. When you're going to lap the strips of a self-edge at an

To set the depth of cut. set the router or trimmer on the work and lower the bit so the cutting edge extends no more than Yu, inch below the bottom of the layer to be trimmed. If it extends bey ond that,you risk cutting into the surface that the bearing references, which in many cases is a laminated surface.

The strips forming a self-edge are applied and trimmed one at a time. Holding a full-sized router steady against a counter edge is not easy, which is why folks who do this work regularly have and ilsc laminate trimmers. If you can minimize the overhang, you reduce the trimmer's work and speed the cut.

outside corner, it's extremely important to get the first strip trimmed perfectly flush. Fred never trusts the cut made by the router in this case. It's too easy for it to leave just one little bump that will hold the next sheet up just a little bit. So he always uses a file to be sure. Hold the file flat on the second surface, and push it along the edge you just routed. Any little imperfections left by the router will be quickly wiped away.

As 1 mentioned, you seldom flush-trim every edge. Believe it or not, laminates can be sharp enough to give you a nasty cut To make the exposed edges look and feel just a little softer, you bevel them. What Fred likes to do is to cut all of his edges widi the flush-cutter, then clean up any glue balls before making a final pass with the bevel-trimming

At an outside corner,you flush-trim the first strip across the counter edge. Be sure it is really flush, using a file if necessary. The second strip must Ik? long ettough to overhang the corner. Trim it flush, then make a finish pass with the bevel-trimming bit to soften the edge.

Bevel-trim the edges of a surface that was edge-banded and then covered with laminate. On this particular job, we used a regular router and a 45-degree chamfer bit.

Contact cement is rubbery, stretchy stuff that gums up a bit and its pilot pretty quickly. A squirt ofWD-40 or the like makes it easy to pull cleanly from the bit.

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At an outside corner,you flush-trim the first strip across the counter edge. Be sure it is really flush, using a file if necessary. The second strip must Ik? long ettough to overhang the corner. Trim it flush, then make a finish pass with the bevel-trimming bit to soften the edge.

After the edges are trimmed, apply the laminate to the top. Your impulse may be to switch to a bevel-trimming hit and rout away the overhang. Butyoullget better results if you first flush-trim the edge, then clean up any strings and gobs of contact cement* After that's done, make a finish pass with the bevel-trimming bit.

The contact cement you use to bond that laminate to its substrate usually turns into sticky wads of rubber when you try- to cut through it. It sticks to the bits pilot bearing and prevents it from following the edge of the stock exactly. If you don't catch it in time, it can even gum up the bearing so it spins with the cutter and burns the edge of the work.

Many companies coat their laminate bits with some form of repellent, but Fred says he's yet to discover one that's 100 percent effective. There are also numerous bearing lubes on the market that are supposed to prevent the bearings from jamming. But the best remedy, says Fred, is to keep a can of aerosol oil such as WD-40 or CRC with your laminate tools. All it takes is a small psssst of the oil every few cuts to keep the bearings running smoothly. The amazing part is that something in the oil makes the contact cement pull up and come loose from the cutters and bearings. Double good!

Contact cement is rubbery, stretchy stuff that gums up a bit and its pilot pretty quickly. A squirt ofWD-40 or the like makes it easy to pull cleanly from the bit.

Bevel-trim the edges of a surface that was edge-banded and then covered with laminate. On this particular job, we used a regular router and a 45-degree chamfer bit.

bit. In areas of regular human contact, he takes a quick swipe over the very corner of the cut with a file just to be sure it's not sharp.

In many projects, there are tight comers that are inaccessible to a router, even a compact laminate trimmer. You're trimming a self-edge with an inside comer, for example.

or an edge that meets a wall. Now you can't trim the last couple of inches on either side of the comer or next to the wall because the base of the router hits the adjoining edge or the wall.

Here's what to do: Nibble off the excess laminate with a pair of diagonal cutters—the kind of wire

TRIMMING LAMINATE

cuitcrs electricians use—then carefully flush the ragged edges with a fine fdc.

Another sticky situation is where you have to t rim an edge or an outside corner t hat is not 90 degrees. The problem is that your pilot bearing rnns a little below the corner, and with an off-square corner you'll end up either leaving some overhang or gouging into the intended comer. To prevent this you can go back to the nibble-and-file technique. Or you can cut a tapered shim to stick to your router's baseplate with double-sided carpet tape. Cut the shim to the angle necessary to keep the bit shank parallel to the surface it's following.

Here's an edge the tilt-base lam trimmer w as made for. You lilt the motor and thus the bit to match the angle of the edge.

Getting a counter to fit seamlessly to a wall is tough. The edge must be scribed, and making the cut is usually handwork. With the offset-base trimmer, however, you block the workpiece so that the hack edge of the laminate is about Y* inch from the wall. Then run the trimmer between the wall and the baeksplash, feeding from left to right. The nose of the baseplate transfers every hump and hollow in the wall to the laminate.

Before the countertop and baeksplash are set and serened in place,you can run the trimmer along the top edge of r he baeksplash and trim the front edge (top). The baseplate shape and bit location even allow you to get into inside corners (bottom). Only a snap with diagonal cutters and a couple of licks with a file will he needed to square it completely.

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