Flipping Heavy Sheet Goods

Ideas for managing the weight of MDF and other heavy sheet goods when laminating sheets on both faces. September 15, 2011

I'm looking for a way to make laminating 4x8s easier. Instead of stopping another person to help flip the board over to laminate the second side, I want to have one person easily do it. Any ideas?

Forum Responses
(Laminate and Solid Surface Forum)
From contributor B:
It doesn't take two people. If you are laminating on a 36" high bench or horses, move the work to a lower bench, i.e. 24". That way you can handle it easier. Grab it in the center, pull it towards you and lift it to vertical, walk around it and lay it down.

From the original questioner:
Yeah, but we work with MDF, which is quite heavy.

From contributor B:
There are two cubic feet in a sheet of 4 x 8 x 3/4 material. Industrial grade particleboard weighs 45 lbs a cubic foot or approximately 90 lbs per sheet. Regular MDF weighs 55 lbs per cubic foot or approximately 111 lbs per sheet. It's heavy, it's just not that much heavier than particleboard, but a whole lot heavier than plywood. They do make a lightweight MDF. But I suppose if you did it all day long, every day, it would either build you up or wear you out!

From contributor R:
How many panels do you do in a day? Some years ago we went from spraying contact and flipping the panels to a 2 sided glue spreader, fast tack PVA glue and a pinch roller. We dry stack overnight under weight and are ready to cut in the morning. One man (or woman) can do about 100 panels in a shift without lifting anything. The initial investment was about $12,000 in a new glue spreader and used pinch roller and I have since added lift tables at each end and an indexing table. We have easily paid for the whole system just with the laminating we do for others, and for our own work it's far less expensive than contact, about 80% less labor per panel and a much better bond and totally nontoxic. If you are going to be doing this for a few years, it's worth looking into doing it right, and there has never been a better time for picking up used machinery.

From contributor X:
Low tables - one or two, your choice. Jawhorse by Rockwell that supports an overhead stop. Lift, slide and prop, then lower panel to opposite side.