Plastic Laminate Cabinet Tips

      Advice for a first-timer who is tackling an all-plastic-laminate kitchen job. July 3, 2006

I have been asked to bid an apartment kitchen and the owner wants it all done in plastic laminate. Any things I should consider before I bid the job?

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor A:
Only the price.

From contributor A:
I think you should consider how much experience you have with laminate covered cabinetry. If you have worked in laminate woodworking houses or the display industry and you know how to bid the work, go for it. If not, will it be worth it to learn on this job and then never or rarely use this new found skill again?

From contributor C:
Laminate cabinets can be very profitable and are well worth the effort of braving the learning curve to produce this job. Just make sure you have the production basics in place, such as adhering the P-lam, trimming it, cabinet construction method you will use, and handling of the P-lam thru your shop. When pricing, consider using standard grade everywhere, because vertical grade tears easily if you are not used to handing it. You may decide after this job that you want to pursue more of this kind of work, as there is steady demand in most markets.

From contributor A:
I have to disagree about using standard grade throughout because of the risk of tearing a sheet of vertical grade while handling it. Vertical grade costs less and takes less than half the time to file as standard. I would recommend using standard thickness on horizontal working surfaces only. VG is easy to break while handling, so just get used to it.

From contributor D:
1. Consider having the panels laid up by someone else
2. Use a no-file bit where necessary, don't hand file.

From contributor B:
You asked me by personal message if you should laminate the face frame with a full piece and then rout it off leaving a center waste piece. First, most laminate cabs I have ever done were Euro style (no face frame). But either way, I would do the edges or face frame with strips of laminate, not a full piece.

When I am doing such work, I always have a router table set up jointer style to put machined and straight edges on laminate strips and pieces. I would cut the stripping .5" (1/2") wider than the part to be laminated. Letís say you have a simple face on a cabinet with two stiles and two rails of equal width dimensions:
Run one edge of each stile strip on the jointer (router table).
Make a second jig that puts a machined edge on the ends of narrow strips of laminate.
Make the rail laminate pieces finish out at about 1/2" (.5") less in length than the distance between the stiles of the face frame and machined cut at 90 degrees on each end. The length accuracy only needs to be +/- 1/16" but the two pieces for the rails should be the same length.

Now you should have two pieces for the stiles that over hang the stiles by some amount in the length and by 1/2" in the width with one machined edge each and two rail pieces that are about 1/2" shorter than the distance between stiles with machined ends. Put all the laminate and the entire face frame in glue (apply contact cement).

After the glue is dry, stick one stile piece in place and leave the machined edge towards the inside of the cabinet overhanging about 1/4". Now stick each rail piece in place butting against the just placed stile piece for a tight joint. Lastly, place the machined edge of the second stile piece tightly against the two open rail laminate ends and of course, J-roll everything. They have a commercial jig that can be used to make these joints and you let the rail pieces run wild in length. I find this method to be faster and makes a perfect joint if you do it correctly and are properly set up.

From contributor E:
I agree with contributor D. Purchase the laminate already laid up on 4 x 8 sheets. I went this route on a school job and it saved a huge amount of time, and the laminate was laid up perfectly. All I had to do was edge band.

From contributor B:
Laying up full 49" x 97" sheets of laminate makes a lot of sense for doors and the like. It wonít work on carcass parts very well due to order of assembly, order of lamination and the necessity for through fasteners. As far as outsourcing pre-laminated panels, it depends on your particular business and production. For me, it takes me about 5 minutes to apply 3M fast bond with a paint roller on a 4 x 8 surface and I am free to do other work while the adhesive dries so it doesnít make sense for me. I want to mention also that in quality laminate doormaking, typically only the back of the panel is pre-laminated. Then the doors are cut to dimension minus the edge laminate. The edges are then laminated and the door face laminate is applied last so that the black lines of the edge laminate don't show on the doors face.

Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?

Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base

  • KnowledgeBase: Cabinetmaking

  • KnowledgeBase: Cabinetmaking: Custom Cabinet Construction

  • KnowledgeBase: Cabinetmaking: Residential Cabinetry

    Would you like to add information to this article? ... Click Here

    If you have a question regarding a Knowledge Base article, your best chance at uncovering an answer is to search the entire Knowledge Base for related articles or to post your question at the appropriate WOODWEB Forum. Before posting your message, be sure to
    review our Forum Guidelines.

    Questions entered in the Knowledge Base Article comment form will not generate responses! A list of WOODWEB Forums can be found at WOODWEB's Site Map.

    When you post your question at the Forum, be sure to include references to the Knowledge Base article that inspired your question. The more information you provide with your question, the better your chances are of receiving responses.

    Return to beginning of article.

    Refer a Friend || Read This Important Information || Site Map || Privacy Policy || Site User Agreement

    Letters, questions or comments? E-Mail us and let us know what you think. Be sure to review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Contact us to discuss advertising or to report problems with this site.

    To report a problem, send an e-mail to our Webmaster

    Copyright © 1996-2019 - WOODWEB ® Inc.
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission of the Editor.
    Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.

    The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.

    WOODWEB, Inc.
    335 Bedell Road
    Montrose, PA 18801

    Contact WOODWEB

  • WOODWEB - the leading resource for professional woodworkers

      Home » Knowledge Base » Knowledge Base Article