Working Copper Sheet Goods for a Top Insert

Advice on cutting and adhering copper for a vanity top. August 3, 2009

We have a vanity to make with a copper insert surrounded by wood. The lead time from my top supplier is too long. I have found the raw materials elsewhere and have a couple of questions before I order it. Can contact be used to glue the sheet down to MDF substrate? If so is there any special prep? Water-base, or regular flammable adhesive which I prefer? If not other adhesive?

Cutting the material - the sheet good is .086 inches. How would you cut this material to a clean edge? Can we get a special blade for the table saw? Should it be cut first then line up with substrate or is there a blade where you can glue this up over size and cut copper and MDF at the same time? This is just a small rectangular blank that needs one surface only. No wrap or edging needed. Would balance sheet with standard backer on underside work?

Forum Responses
(Laminate and Solid Surfacing Forum)
From contributor J:
I think I would go with flammable contact leaving an oversized edge, similar to a laminate install. To cut something that thin cleanly, the best approach would be to score it, deeply if necessary, with a utility knife and straight edge and break the edge free. You might want to make a small piece up to test the technique.

From contributor J:
My can of contact cement says not to use on copper.

From contributor D:
How large is this insert? My local liquor purveyor installed copper counter tops at the check-out, with scanner windows set flush. They looked great for a week or so. I normally step right up and say "I can solve this problem for you, but am reluctant in this case since I don't know how to bond the copper to a substrate to prevent movement. And should it be backed with equal copper? Heavier gauge used throughout? Lighter gauge? So, as you now know, I can't help you, but I'm curious as the solution. I'd try some tests with marine epoxy. If your panel is small enough and set within a wood frame, you may not see the expansion, but I wonder.

From contributor T:
Copper and contact don't play nice together. For a small job I would roll out polyurethane (gorilla glue) and vacuum bag with a platen to smooth out the face. Clamps and cauls or a J roller may leave impressions on this gauge that can telegraph through. I have had good luck doing this on 3/4 ply that I lay up for custom hood liners.

From the original questioner:
This is a small piece roughly 21x24 so cold press with the correct adhesive will work fine.