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Thread: Formica advice needed

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada

    Formica advice needed

    Well on my way home today i stopped in at the Restore it for habitat for humanity. There are some good deals there if you can use your hands an a little imagination.

    So i am wondering i can get a sheet of 4x8 Formica for $7.

    First is that a good deal. i have never bought the stuff before so i have no clue.
    Its a granite patter but its still smooth.

    Then i am planning to put a new panel in my table saw to the right hand side following my mod to my Table Saw thanks to Glenn B.

    Well i want this more than stout and a nice flat surface because my router insert could be going in that side or the other. Either way its gonna be used for a router table surface top covering.

    Now the big question on my mind, i have never layed this stuff down on anything, and all i can see in my mind is blobs of contact cement making this stuff look like a lake on a windy day.

    So any guidance on how to do it so i dont end up that way.

    Contact cement which is the glue i understand one uses, is not thin stuff and it aint like pva that you can smooth out.

    What are the tricks and whats my likely outcome. I know i need to use the strips of wood to set it down once the glue is dry but i just cannot visualize how you get the glue flat.

    Does it rub flat with a hard rubber roller?

    Reason i ask is option no 2.

    I can get a piece of counter top for $20 bucks already covered in Formica.

    Problem is its mounted on particle board and looks like there is a slight bow in it already. I was thinking if i wet spray the bottom side of the particle board and laminate a piece of ply or mdf to it do you think i would be able to pull the slight bow flat. At least then the formice is already attached flat.

    The counter top i can get is something like 53x 53 inchs with the one corner cut off at 45 about halfway to the center line in each side.

    I dont need to use the whole piece but for the price they want its a deal especially when i consider laminating a sheet myself.

    I was also thinking of making a torsion box out of 3/4 ply and mounting the particle board on that to pull it flat. When i say its bowed i dont mean by a lot but you can imagine this counter was only supported along the edges by the looks of it so its slightly sagged in the middle.

    So which one would you go for. I only need 27 inch across from rail to rail.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Auckland New Zealand


    Whenever you laminate one side of any kind of board it will warp, if you can, laminate both sides, to be sure, look for a contact glue that is thin, we spray ours on, but if you haven't got spray gear it can be put on with a brush or a wide scraper,both sides of course.
    after contacting the two peices together, usually about 10 minutes depending on the temperature.(should be touch dry)
    We use a rubber roller to smooth out any air bubbles ,working from the centre out.
    but you can use some elbow grease

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    Personally, I think I'd rather start with a flat substrate and glue my own Formica than try to unwarp one that already has the laminate on it.

    I concur with Graham on the application of the glue. I don't think it's as thick as you think it it. It brushes on quite easily. Not like latex paint easy, but not like silicon caulk hard, either. I've always used a brush to apply the glue. Put it on both surfaces (the wood and the Formica), the as Graham mentioned, let it sit until it's dry enough that you can press a thumb on it firmly and not have it stick to you. Then line up the two parts and stick them together, working from the middle if possible, or if not, from one end to the other. I always cut the laminate oversized, then used a flush cut bit on a router to trim the edges. A rubber roller is recommended, but you can also use a block of wood and a mallet, and tap it down in a pattern to ensure it's all making contact. It's really pretty easy. (I've made a few speaker cabinets and road cases, and I thank my high school shop teacher for showing me how to apply laminates.)

    And based on what I've seen around here, $7 for a sheet of Formica is a steal.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
    To add to what Vaughn said, when you are ready to place the formica onto the substrate. The first time they meet is the last time so make it right! Try using either strips of brown wrapping paper or thin strips of lathe or cut offs laid upon the substrate and than place the Formica on top you can then align and start slipping the strips out from the middle to one side and then the other. Then follow the steps above.
    Bill Antonacchio

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Salt Spring Island, BC Canada
    I would disagree with Graham about the warping if that was the case then the building supply stores and the counter top business would be able to sell counter tops at all. I have never seen a counter top laminatred on both sides as the K3 Doesn't warp unless it is stored wrong. Anyways you are attaching the top to something that will straighten it out. My side table on my table saw that is out in the unheated garage is MDF and nothing wrong with it at all.

    I have done my share of counter tops and could spend the time doing a step by step but here is a good link ( with pics ) To show how It is done. I always start in the middle though and work out to both ends when i lay the laminate as it helps in getting the bubbles out. There is a water based adhesive that has less smell than the regular contact cement.

    As for getting the warped counter I would pass on it as you can do it better making one yourself. MDF is a good stable base material to work with. Average price for a full sheet around here is 60 bucks for a 49-97 sheet. If you don't care about the color go to the Borgs and see what they have in. I did my shop counters in a Red as it was the cheapest. You could also go and ask at a counter top shop they may have some extra cut offs hanging about from a previous job that they may just give you, but If you can get a sheet for 7 bucks go for it.
    Last edited by Drew Watson; 11-24-2010 at 03:42 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Central NY State
    Drew, I can't see your link. Also, I agree with you on the one side laminate, as long as the piece is mounted with support, it'll do fine. I've used scrap laminate for shop applications, and it has done me well. $7 a sheet is giving it away. I've used dowels between laminate and substrate for positioning, remove them one or two at a time, working from the middle out.

  7. #7
    I agree with Ken...7 bucks is a give away. I would make my own laminate top with some good 'ol 3M glue. Not a hard job to do really. As for the bowed top....walk away from that one good buddy!

  8. #8
    Last sheet I bought was around $60 so a $7 sheet is a giveaway. As for warping if attached only to one side. Never been a problem when in normal weather conditions. Most pieces are fastened downand few are left out in the rain...

    Great atop MDF. 3M makes all kinds of Contact cement select the one most common to your use.

    I also often use a square if it to lay atop my Table saw throat when I need a quiick Zero Clearance. A while bick I had an Oops and broke my Zero... All of a sudden I needed for a couple cuts, not wanting to delay the project to build another, I taped a square across the saw, ran up the blade and had an instant Zero...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Outside the beltway
    Rob if you were in my area I could get you a nice size piece of granite for the table table. Jarrod uses Formica on his side. You like Home-depot so go pick up a can or 2 of contact cement spray both sides and lay it down. You will need another person to help with the lay.
    Or you can go by a Granite shop and pic up a remnant to use. Granite will glue down with a good glue to hold in place or just block it out.
    I dream a lot. I do more painting when I'm not painting. It's in the subconscious.
    ::: Andrew Wyeth :::

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Santa Claus, In
    At $7, buy it.

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