Getting a Professional Edge on Laminate Without Filing

A card scraper method and other tips for fine-tuning the edge of a laminate top without laborious hand filing. June 12, 2014

(WOODWEB Member):
Does anyone know of a method or a special tool that avoids one having to file laminate while having a professional edge?

Forum Responses
(Laminate and Solid Surface Forum)
From contributor M:
I've tried a couple of other ways. One is a special bit called a no file bit. You have to be careful when adjusting because the straight part of the bit can cause the infamous white to show. I still had to file after using this bit. There's no better way that I've seen to get a professional looking edge than good old hand filing.

From contributor S:
Amana tool makes a great no-file bit in two different sizes - 1.5mm rad. and 0.4 mm rad. They work well.

From contributor C:
Has anybody tried scarfing the edge with a steel wood scraper? I am now an old timer, and when an old timer showed me the technique, a file seemed primitive. A file works better for the corner edge of a drawer front, no doubt, but on the majority of the laminate self edge finishing, the scraper will polish and finish the edge absolutely beautifully, in a rapid and controlled manner. I would encourage you to try this on a self edge joint that has been bevel trimmed with a small amount of overhang remaining. Play with it, you won't be sorry. I have done miles of the finest self edge using this technique.

From contributor M:
That sounds interesting. Could you elaborate on that process of using a scraper?

From contributor P:
Thanks for the tip. Something that is obvious but in case it is not: dialing in the bevel trim on the router greatly reduces the amount of filing you have to do.

From contributor X:
Contributor C, I've done it your way for years. Using a block plane blade works too.

From contributor C:
Contributor P has it right on - dial in that bevel router, leaving just a smidge of overhang. The scraper used is a common wood scraper. Ours is 2-1/4" x 6". Burnish the scraper edge just like you were going to scrape wood. Drag it along the protruding laminate edge, overhang lightly, and you will see it cleanly scarfs the edge. Usually I will use 3 or 4 passes lightly in 1-2' increments, rounding and polishing the edge, while working my way down the length of the top.

We also put a piece of tape on one corner of the scraper which can rest on the front edge of the laminate without scratching it, while scraping the miniscule laminate overhang.

Another nifty tip is: we spray our contact cement. When we mask the front edge for overspray protection, we hold the tape back 1/8" from the top and let a little telltale dried overspray be the indicator when the scraping/filing is done.

From contributor U:
We currently have a version called an easy edge bit. Contributor M is correct, the position of the bit is critical. What you need to keep in mind is the thickness of the laminate. This plays a part in which bit you need.