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We are redoing our kitchen and ordered laminate countertops. Part of our layout is an "L" shape. So it is two pieces of counter that will be joined by a miter. Here's a picture of the sketchup.



We would like to get rid of the pointy corner, kind of round it like the shelf below it. We didn't order it this way because they told us it would be a week or two just to get an estimate and then another 3-4 weeks for the order. So I just ordered it mitered and will figure out how to do it myself. I'm going to use a router and circle jig to do the actually rounding of the counter. I also ordered a strip of laminate to cement on after adding a 3/4" filler to the bottom edge. Here's where I'm confused, I have a porter cable laminate trimmer so trimming the top flush won't be a problem. But when I get to the sides I don't think I can use the trimmer because of the rounded edge profile won't let me hold the trimmer flat and cut it flush.

Here's a picture(rough) of what we want to do with the top, the red line would be the radius cut.


Here is a picture of another counter that shows the problem area where I need to figure out how to trim the laminate flush.


Any ideas on how to do this? I've done a few laminate projects but the edges were all square so just ran the trimmer along them.
 

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I think you would be much happier with the outcome if you would get a piece of laminate to go from corner to corner. It would be much easier too.

As far as trimming the laminate you have shown in the last picture takes a bit of skill. I normally shape the laminate as close as possible before gluing it on and then take the base off the laminate trimmer and freehand trim it as possible and file it the rest of the way.
 

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Steve, I don't think it's possible to do the whole edge because it's coming from the factory with the top edge rounded over. Like what's shown in the countertop picture I showed above. So looks like I will have to freehand it with the router base off and then file you say.
 

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Steve, I don't think it's possible to do the whole edge because it's coming from the factory with the top edge rounded over. Like what's shown in the countertop picture I showed above. So looks like I will have to freehand it with the router base off and then file you say.
Yea, unless you could trim about 3/4" off the edge I guess you are stuck. The thing I don't like is when you terminate the radius over to the edge you will have a much larger black line than the mitered piece in the picture. Is the strip of laminate you are getting standard 1/16" thick or are you getting a vertical surface strip that is 1/32"? The thinner would be better in this application, both aesthetically and fabricating it.
 

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There will be a thicker black line there but I guess we are going to have to live with that. She wanted the rounded over front edge profile. I asked at the store and they showed me an example of how they do it and it looks just like the blue counter pictured above. That blue counter is also a factory laminate job and that's how they did it. Guess I didn't have much of an option unless we would've went with just the square 90 degree edge profile. My main concern is how to trim it flush without cutting in to deep.

What kind of file is best for this? I've also read about angling the file when doing it, or using a 22 degree bit on a laminate trimmer. Where would I want to us a 22 degree bit, which edges if any?
 

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That rounded edge you have is called a "post formed" edge. You can laminate to it cut flat, size the edge piece for minimum overhang, and just use a mill file, and file it back. I use a router with a tilting base, but if you don't have one, don't try to use the flush trim bit without the base. It's too easy to slip. The angle of the file will be almost in line with the front face for the smallest file line. If you are too close, you will file off the laminate on the curved part.





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22 1/2 degrees is a good angle for laminate. Routing the angle just get's you started so you don't have to do so much work by hand. It also makes it more uniform so you don't file more angle in some places than another. No more than you have to do, you could just skip it and do it all with a file. Sometimes we get so hung up on standard procedure we don't see the job at hand. It's kind of hard to describe how to file one. It's usually something that has to be demonstrated. As best as I can describe it is you trim the laminate first with a straight cut trim bit, clean the contact cement off and then trim with the 22 1/2 degree bit almost to the glue line. You leave just a little sharp edge to to have to file off. You can use any metal file but I prefer a 12" mill ba$tard. With the way you will have the laminate applied you would file only it a upstroke at 22 1/2 degree angle the same as the laminate angle until you barely take off the sharp edge you left with the router. While you are filing you are constantly feeling the edge with the other hand making checking if you have it smooth or not. You have to be careful while you are doing this not to hit the color layer on the laminate on the top piece. It could chip however it is more likely to just make a bigger black line. Then after you get it filed take the file almost flat with the piece on top and make a very light stroke on the top piece. If you have the time it would be best to glue the strip on one day and trim and file it another day. Sometimes the glue will make the wood swell up and you trim and file it and then the next day the wood shrinks and it needs to be filed again. I doubt if you will want to file it twice.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thank you both for the advice.

I do have a tilt base with my porter cable laminate router and actually thought about that but didn't think it would work on the post form part, since it's a compound radius(if that's a term!). I think I'll do as you suggest and just cut it close and then use a file. I'm still a little new with filing laminate so hopefully will get it right.
 

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Thank you both for the advice.

I do have a tilt base with my porter cable laminate router and actually thought about that but didn't think it would work on the post form part, since it's a compound radius(if that's a term!). I think I'll do as you suggest and just cut it close and then use a file. I'm still a little new with filing laminate so hopefully will get it right.
Actually thinking about it more you won't be able to route the ends of the radius even with the base off the router. With that much angle on the radius the collet nut would hit the laminate.

If you have enough plastic or can get some, you might laminate some scrap boards and practice milling the edge and filing plastic before you start on the counter.

Another note: when you glue the radius let the glue dry to close to the limit of open time before you stick it. Sometimes if you stick it prematurely it tries to pop back up and with contact cement clamps and time won't help.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
What is the best way to cut the laminate close to the curve before gluing it? I've cut straight cuts on the table saw before but is there a way to hand cut it to get it close to the curve needed before gluing so I can just file it to the right size once installed like mentioned above?

I think I have some leftover laminate somewhere, if not the in stock stuff is pretty cheap at the box store. I might try to make a replica to practice on. Of coarse I won't be able to do the post form part but I can just leave that wood and wrap the end and practice cutting and filing it.
 

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What is the best way to cut the laminate close to the curve before gluing it? I've cut straight cuts on the table saw before but is there a way to hand cut it to get it close to the curve needed before gluing so I can just file it to the right size once installed like mentioned above?

I think I have some leftover laminate somewhere, if not the in stock stuff is pretty cheap at the box store. I might try to make a replica to practice on. Of coarse I won't be able to do the post form part but I can just leave that wood and wrap the end and practice cutting and filing it.
IMO using a tin snips works pretty good.





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What is the best way to cut the laminate close to the curve before gluing it? I've cut straight cuts on the table saw before but is there a way to hand cut it to get it close to the curve needed before gluing so I can just file it to the right size once installed like mentioned above?

I think I have some leftover laminate somewhere, if not the in stock stuff is pretty cheap at the box store. I might try to make a replica to practice on. Of coarse I won't be able to do the post form part but I can just leave that wood and wrap the end and practice cutting and filing it.
If I were doing that in my shop I would rip the laminate 1 3/4" for a top 1 1/2" thick and grind the angle on one end with a belt sander so it fits pretty close. The radius you are doing is not that sharp. You can easily hold the one end where you want it and bend it around to the other side where you can mark it with a pencil for size. Then you can cut it off and grind some of the angle on the sander like you did to begin with. Of course you need to leave it a little long but not more than a 1/16" long. Then after you stick it you can use a laminate trimmer on the top and bottom edge. It's too much to do to try to align the ends and top and bottom too.

Postforming is a reference to a different type of laminate than you will be using. When laminate is made they run it through an oven and cure it so it achieves it's full hardness. The postforming laminate is taken out of the oven prematurely before it gets completely hard so the material is softer and easier to bend. You can't really see a difference in the material, it's just easier to bend. When you make a counter top that has a small radius 2" to 3" its difficult to make the bend without the laminate snapping unless postforming laminate is used. When you stick it you lay one straight edge and roll it and then gently use a heat gun and heat the laminate pretty hot before attempting to make the bend. Another use it is these counter shops that make the counter tops with the roll front with the 4" back splash couldn’t make them without the postforming laminate. The entire counter top and laminate is put in a press with a different type of glue and run through a oven to finish curing the laminate and accelerate the drying time of the glue. I think they use a resin glue but I'm not sure.
 
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