New Way to Fabricate Laminate Counter Edges

One craftsman's suggestion for a new way to create the edge detail for a laminate countertop. October 27, 2009

I recently tried a different method for building a laminate counter. I bought the material already laid up (11/16" particleboard, HPL 1 face.) With the sheet face down on the CNC, I through-cut the counter outline, leaving the finished edges 5/16" larger than their finished dimensions. I then raised the bit the thickness of the laminate, and did another pass on the finished edges, taking off 5/16". The laminate on the face of the panel (which will be the top of the counter) was now overhanging the finished edges 5/16".

I carefully ripped material for finished edges and glued them on. Top laminate was now overhanging finished edges by 1/4". I trimmed all, filed, and the counter came out nicely. The weak link was gluing the front strips on. I need a neater way to do this. I just brushed on the contact cement, which was slow and messy, particularly where you're trying not to douse the top laminate where it overhangs the edge. I tried several layers of Fastcap's Speed Tape, to glue the edges on a sample piece, but it didn't bond well enough to the substrate. I think that spraying might create even more of a mess than brushing. Assuming I haven't thoroughly confused everyone, I'm open to suggestions on how to improve this process, as I have quite a few counters to make.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor A:
Assuming your front edge is laminate as well, you should use spray-on contact adhesive. I buy small canisters from the laminate supplier. The gun and hose stay on the can so there is no clean up. Once you try spray-on you will never want to brush on contact again.

From contributor B:
What was the reason for all the extra work (the CNC cutting and raising the bit, etc.)? Why didn't you just cut it to size and slap some ends on it?

From contributor C:
I'm guessing the reason for that was so the top laminate was on top of the edge piece, giving a cleaner look and being less likely to catch on something and chip or peel off. I agree that spraying it is the way to go. Just lay a piece of cardboard or a cover sheet over the top laminate and spray away. You'll kind of be shooting up at it from the underside, but you shouldn't get any on it.

From contributor D:
This is an interesting way of doing this. I have been thinking of trying this myself. I think the trick would be making sure the strip was put on tight to the overhanging top piece. I agree the spray canister is the way to go. I spray my edges all the time. Just adjust the pattern down and use a scrap of laminate as a shield. On 1-1/2" it should be no problem. I hate doing laminate countertops but it is necessary on commercial jobs.

From the original questioner:
I'll will try spraying, using some shields. Thanks very much for the feedback.