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Input on small 4 sided box, no back, no lid, in large quantities

Mark B

We've been running a bunch of these small boxes, 14" wide, 2.75" deep, 6" tall. High pressure laminate exposed faces, backer on the non-exposed faces. These have to have non edge banded exterior corners (look like a mitered corner) so a standard laminate corner with routed bevel. We're running them over 1/2" veneer core and been cutting them on the CNC HPL down with a stepped rabbet at all the corners so we are left with a very small flange of just the high pressure laminate with enough extra width (1-2mm) to trim on the router table.

That small flange of laminate is of course super fragile off the machine and through assembly and a bit finicky on assembly. Trying to avoid laminating the exterior faces after assembly, cutting and handling tons of small pieces of laminate, contact, etc. and trying to stick with layed up sheets. Miter folding doesnt work well and leaves the miter seam right in the center of the bevel edge.

Wondering if anyone has any input on alternate methods or better ideas. Quantities are in the several hundreds. Ive even been wondering about something like Wilsonart Re-cover and just laying these up after assembly with peel and stick (these are not in any environment that demands contact or hot/cold pressed panels).

Id still much rather stick with the panels off the CNC if possible but keeping the corners tight can be a challenge. These arent bound to veneer core or even backer which led me to thinking of miterfolding these in MDF and then running the re-cover.

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10/2/21       #2: Input on small 4 sided box, no back ...

Mark B:

What are the colors of the laminate? Would it be possible to laminate the large face, which perhaps gets the most wear, and use Mylar, or something like it, and wrap the three sides, with just that thin film to trim off?

How much color variation is there? If it is all the same, it may be worth talking to someone and have them make you a roll of self-adhesive film to match.


10/2/21       #3: Input on small 4 sided box, no back ...

Would miter fold work?

10/2/21       #4: Input on small 4 sided box, no back ...
Mark B

All of the exposed faces need to be HPL. Wilsonart 7518 Solar Oak.

10/3/21       #5: Input on small 4 sided box, no back ...
Tom Gardiner

Could you reinforce the laminate by applying a temporary 1/8" mdf backer cut to size when coming off the cnc? It could be taped on. Maybe that would take too long but it would cut down on the breakage and would aid in the glue-up.

10/3/21       #6: Input on small 4 sided box, no back ...

You never elaborated on why you don't think Miterfolding will work. Did you try it? True, you won't get perfect corners, they will need to be filed lightly, but you're already doing that with your current setup.

If you have high quantities like this, you may be better off with a dedicated gasketed jig, and cutting through each part, then taping them together at assembly. The trouble with a miter bit on the Router is the point has 0 speed and kind of drags along the HPL. If you can cut through say 1/8", the point is moving enough to achieve a cleaner cut.

Then again, if you have a shaper, you could create all the miters on there as well, which would be crisper.

Again, in that quantity level, you may even be better off making some dedicated assembly jigs on the CNC instead of using tape.

But if you have a TON of these, and see this type of work in your future, these would be way faster with a dedicated miter folding machine that applies the tape and cuts the fold in one pass.

10/3/21       #7: Input on small 4 sided box, no back ...
Mark B

Thanks everyone,
I somewhat discounted the miterfold for the reasons mentioned in my intial post as well as those you mention Gary. We miterfold solid surface a lot but I hog out in 2 passes prior to the miterfold on the cnc with the last one being a 1/4" spiral bull nose that reaches down to the bottom of the fold leaving only about .050" for the tip of the tool to deal with. Inserts last forever but i dont think that would be the case with laminate like you say. But I could give it a test. The option of cutting through to get into the rotation of the tool would work but then holding all those small parts, as well as handling them loose/taping after the fact, I just pretty much abandoned it for the stepped rebate. Even though were still handing individual parts the laminate is basically an onion skin till the last pass. Ive never miterfolded laminate before and I was also concerned with the possibility of squeezout under the tape being a clean up issue but thinking through this more it may be worth a try especially possibly using something like black solid surface seaming adhesive in the fold which would act as a black fill as well.

There will be a lot of these by the time they are done as I mentioned. Several hundred if not more but I dont think its going to repeat down the road and not sure there is enough in this one component of the job to justify the dedicated miterfold machinery. The stepped rebate isnt awful but it isnt great either.

Your response re the shaper has got me thinking of the miterfold but abandoning the CNC and running the two widths needed (bottom, and the face and ends) on the shaper in long lengths, back fence, and perhaps the edge beveling on the coping sled with some stops then taping them and folding them. Thinking that through as Im typing it sounds better and better and may be a lot faster than CNC miterfold or the stepped rebate.

Tom, adding the backing layer would be interesting but as you say it may add to the chaos.

Thanks a bunch for all the feedback... I get stuck in the loop all to often as Im getting older.

10/4/21       #8: Input on small 4 sided box, no back ...
Mark B

Update (I hate posts with no follow up)

Not rock solid at this point but at this point we are leaning towards VG laminate (re-cover) and just smacking together shallow rebate boxes (rebate for registration), glu/staples, flushed on shaper, and then re-cover/VG laminate, bevel trimmed on router table.

It seems like a decent option to speed up the core assembly and we can laminate 3 sides, 2 trimming stations (one straight one bevel). We will still have a bit of filling but seems like a better alternative to most other options.

Not locked yet but...

As always, thanks for the input.

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