Heat-Bending Laminate

With care and attention, you can bend laminate to a one-inch radius. October 28, 2005

I'm working with a dealer who seems to have at least one 1 1/2" radius in every laminate top sold. I use a heat gun to bend these, with various degrees of success. Some brands bend well, but some want to pull away from the contact adhesive bond. I usually use a PVA glue clamped overnight for these problem corners when my standard contact adhesive won't hold them. Are there guidelines for how much or how long to heat the laminate for best results? Also, should I recommend doing larger than 1 1/2" when possible?

Forum Responses
(Laminate and Solid Surface Forum)
Using postform grade and a heat gun should work fine. It doesn't take a lot of heat...
Since you do several of that radius, you might cut a block to that radius as a clamp for good measure.

When I have to get into a small radius, I usually try to sand the laminate down in thickness where it will be going through. That and heat usually gets it through with no problem

I use a product called Tempilstik in a crayon form, or Tempilaq paint. You apply a small line of this product to the strip of laminate, and when the laminate reaches 325 degrees
(bending temperature), the product changes color. I use this when post-forming laminate. It's the cat's meow!

Thanks. Does it work pretty well with regular horizontal grade?

Yes it does, however, horizontal grade laminate won't form as tight a radius as the vertical grade.

I use an old steam iron. Apply the edge to the longest edge first. Hold the iron with the heel on the p-lam just before the bend starts. Keep the strip against the edge and wait for the p-lam to soften - it's something you will learn to see. Then force the edge slowly around the corner, applying tension to the free edge. Pull tightly on the free edge and stick it. You will occasionally need to put a bar clamp at one of the corners until it cools. Every brand of p-lam responds differently, so test on scrap first. What is fine for one will cause another to pop and blister.

I was taught by Art Betterly some 20+ years ago and can bend std. grade on a 1" radius. The way to bend a 1 1/2" radius is to apply a wax (carnauba) on the edgeband, then file top and bottom face side of edgeband on 45 degree angle (to stop cracking), and apply heat with heat gun. Keep the gun moving, as edgeband softens bend on desired radius, keeping it tight to the top with roller or block stick. The wax is important because it helps to hold in the heat.