Rubber T-Mold Tips and Tricks

Trimming, fitting, and touch-up tricks for T-mold on the edge of laminate tops. March 9, 2010

I am about to make some laminate tops with rubber T-mold on the edges. The top of the T-mold never quite aligns perfectly with the laminate surface, so we trim the T-mold, and it appears dull. Is there a way to bring back that shine to the trimmed areas, and what do you use to trim the tT-mold? What is the trick to getting the butt joint where the T-mold meets to look and align perfectly? I get it close, but never perfect. And do you pin the T-mold from the bottom as I do?

Forum Responses
(Laminate and Solid Surface Forum)
From contributor G:
I use the iron out of a hand plane to trim it. Butt joints are always a problem for me too. I don't pin it; I use melamine glue to hold it.

From contributor S:
To trim it, you cut the spline away to allow the T edge to overlap about 1/2". Then cut through both at the same time down to your substrate. Pull the top layer back, cut out the back little piece and hammer the top layer down flush. Be careful not to cut into the laminate when you are cutting through the two layers of T edge or you can make a place for your laminate to crack.

For trimming we use Olfa knives, then we use a deburring tool meant for metal to soften the edge. It takes some practice, but the cutter on the tool swivels so it can go around corners, etc. With the rubber T edge I am not sure there is anything you can do to make the finish look the same. Maybe try a fine file with a light touch and see if it helps. We do pin the T edge, especially on inside curves. We found our staff was a little messy with glue.

From contributor D:
We do thousands of custom work surfaces with T-mold edges each year. I can help.

1. Buy MEK solvent (methyl ethyl ketone) at your local hardware store. With gloves on, dip a rag in it and rub the dulled areas. MEK will "melt" the edgeband and make it shine.

2. Cut the edgeband a little long to make a good butt seam. Stop hammering the spline in when you are about 6" from finished. Put the loose end of the T-mold in the slot and drive the spline in, working backward to where you stopped. This backfeeding technique leaves a tight seam. Plastic tubing cutters work well for cutting T-mold.

3. We never pin T-mold in, and we never glue it. If the slot is the right width, there is no need. A slot too wide could also be the cause of your problem with alignment. We don't need to trim our edges.

Also, get a Danair air hammer if you do much of this. It hammers the edge in without bumps and does a much nicer job. I wouldn't touch T-mold without one.

From the original questioner:
Thanks to all for the great tips. We had a good experience doing these tops. We did use a Danair hammer, and it works like a charm. We always use the cutter recommended by the T-mold supplier for the specific size of T-mold. We used the tips from your responses for cutting and butting the T-mold together and the client was very happy with the product. Thanks for the MEK tip - I'm going out to the shop to give it a try.