Hand Filing and Laminate Trimming Bits

      The right bit can reduce the need for cleaning up edges with a hand file, but may not eliminate touch-up filing altogether. May 13, 2009

I'm the project manager for a quickly growing cabinet outfit in Nassau, Bahamas. My production manager is still using hand files with our laminate projects, is this correct? I'm thinking there has to be a much quicker and easier way than spending hours hand filing every edge. Does anyone have a reliable consistent method that we can adopt, or any tool suggestions? We're not using a CNC machine yet, but we do have a beautiful edge bander. But still some light filling is needed.

Forum Responses
(Laminate and Solid Surfacing Forum)
From contributor S:
We bought a laminate trimming bit that trims and puts a very slight bevel on the top edge at the same time. Unfortunately I can't remember where I got it. My personal opinion is that any router bit that gives you a nice clean edge also leaves a sharp edge. It can be quite minimal, and maybe you would just let it go by. I still do a little filing to get rid of any potential sharp edges. In most cases a customerís hands are not as tough as yours, and could easily cut themselves on a laminate edge.

From contributor R:
Try Wesley Tools in Westbury, NY. I believe that they have no-file laminate trim bit with a bearing.

From contributor Z:
The bits are made by Amana. Yes they are called "no file" bits made for both V grade and horizontal grade.

From contributor W:
Fortunately I don't do that much laminate work anymore, but for the counters that still do, I trim with a regular flush bit, clean the face edges, and then make a separate pass with an 1/8" rad roundover bit. The fit has a bearing on it and I have it set up in a dedicated laminate trimmer.

You can set up the bit to eliminate filing altogether, but that can take forever to dial in, so I set the bit to leave just enough that 1 pass of a file will give a finished edge. I use the roundover bits with the smallest bearing possible (I believe 1/4") so that I can get in tight on inside corners. I haven't bought one for awhile, but used to get them from Woodworkers Supply.

Additionally I mask the front strips/finished edges of the counter with 3/4" painters tape, flush to the top edge, before I trim them. The tape eliminates any type of burning of the front edge when you're flush trimming the top, and catches excess glue during glue up. I peel it off after the flush trim, but before the roundover step. It takes very little time to put the tape on, saves time cleaning glue off, and I haven't marred a front edge since I began doing this.

From contributor G:
We have a couple of those bits in the shop, we had some guy pass through the shop that had the boss convinced that they were the way to go and the boss bought them. A couple of the other guys in the shop that don't do too much of the laminate work swear by them. I used it once, and found out that you take more color off the vertical piece of laminate because you have to set the bit so low to get the rounded return on the top edge of the laminate. The other guys still use them and take off color, but won't give them up. I'll stick with what I've always used, the 1/8 round over bit and a fast swipe of the file.

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