Joints in Very Long Laminate Tops

Advice on fabricating and assembling large countertops so that laminate joints fall over solid substrate rather than at the substrate joints. May 3, 2011

Iím looking for a little advice on laminate work. We recently took on a project to build a new bar (120') for a local pub. The bar owner would like to have the top out of laminate and the bar mold (nosing) and drink rail out of solid wood. I am not sure the best way to go about the laminate work. I don't want the laminate seams breaking over top of any of the miters in the particle board, like you would see in post form tops. Is there a way I could still get most of the laminate work done in the shop, keeping in mind I will have several field joints to pull together at the job?

Forum Responses
(Laminate and Solid Surfacing Forum)
From contributor B:
You could lay the cores out and pull the field joints together and laminate leaving the end of the laminate overlap the joint (taping it off so there is no contact at that point) about a 1/4", then reassemble in the field. Use Titebond to assemble the joint and put some under the laminate at the joint where it overlaps. It's a little tricky and you have to be careful not to chip it. We protect the edge with MDF and tape it up until we are ready to assemble that way the laminate joint is over the core and not open at the seam and you are using a more rigid glue under the laminate at the seam than contact.

You have to clamp the joint down on the laminate seam where it overlaps to get it down flush with the other side of the core. You can use a piece of scrap laminate (face down) to cover the seam and then a caul board on top of that and clamp. I'd practice first at your shop to test.

From contributor R:
We recently did a countertop 75 ft long with four 90 degree corners in it. We build it in the shop and then dismantled it and re-assembled it on site. The laminate was mitered in the corners but the plywood was not mitered. We ran six to eight feet along the long side of the countertop and four foot around the short side - an L shape. The plywood was dog boned together and a scab was placed across the joint. The scab was screwed to the base plywood with six screws. The screws and the dog bone were taken out and when replaced in the field the six screw holes were used to line up the pieces correctly. The laminate had to extend over the end of the plywood joint by as much as two feet so we had to be very careful in transporting and installing. We used the same method on the long side butt joints also. It is very easy to pull the base pieces together and flush out the tops this way. The laminate goes over the joint in the base and lays flat there. It butts into the next laminate in the middle of a flat piece of base and all you have to watch is how tight the joint is. Itís easy to make the joint very tight.