Laminate Trimming Technique

Bit selection and lubricant choice for trouble-free trimming of countertop edges. March 14, 2006

I have been running into trouble with my flush trim bit on laminate top/edges. Often there is still quite a good lip left that needs filing. I have also encountered the problem where the flush trim just barely eats into the edge to remove the color. In other words these aren't true flush trim bits. The only solution I can think of is to use a 6 degree bevel bit with the depth set perfect. Does anyone have any idea?

Forum Responses
(Laminate and Solid Surfacing Forum)
From contributor M:
Purchase a good quality straight bit. I use the Bosch solid carbide bits. And a jar of vaseline has never burned the laminate. A good laminate fabricator always finishes up with a file.

From contributor G:
To contributor M: I've seen the solid carbide bits, but have never used them. I am wondering, just how do you use them? I can see how the vaseline would lubricate the laminate.

From contributor M:
Basically, the carbide section below the cutting area is the "pilot." Vaseline is the least expensive and most efficient alternative to the more expensive lubricants. The only thing to remember is that you must keep the router moving.

From contributor D:
The solid carbide flush trim bit and vaseline idea is definitely the way to go, but a less expensive alternative to vaseline is lard. I have been using it for years and it never fails. Also, if the edge of your laminate is not square to the face of the laminated face, that could lead to a burn from the bit trimming into the color of the edge.

From the original questioner:
Do you mean that most of you are using solid bits without bearings, and set the blade right at the bottom of the core of the top piece? I have always been scared that I would burn a big line in one of my edges and ruin a top. Has anyone tried one of those wax pencils? They would work great in place of the vaseline and would be a lot less messier.

From contributor J:
Id suggest looking into the new Euro bits. Instead of the bearing on the face they now have a square covering over the bearing that is supposed to be much better.

From the original questioner:
I've used the Euro bits and they work great. They are a little pricey, but I think you can buy the square plastic sleeve for bearings on other bits. Also, Amana makes some kind or a bearing thats in synthetic to avoid bearing burn.

From contributor D:
Solid carbide bits are much faster to use than bearing bits because you are only plowing through 1/4" of laminate, compared to 1/2". We keep 2 trim routers at each station, one with a flush bit and the other with a 7-degree bevel.

Don't try to use one router for both bits unless you have the time to re-set the beveled bit each time. Make sure to use the flush bit on all edges until the piece is finished and then zip it with the bevel. Filing is reduced to a couple of long strokes. To prevent burning, we use LamiLube in an aerosol can. Before that came out we used paraffin canning wax.

From contributor J:
To contributor D: Amana also makes those neat little "no-file" bits, 1 for vg and another for the horizontal grade and they also work nice.

From contributor C:
To contributor J: I've used the "no-file" bits with minimal luck. Have you used any other brand other than Amana? Maybe I just need to purchase the quality Amana bit. Do you flush trim before you use it, or maybe a 1/8" overhang bit?

From contributor J:
You must flush trim first before you can use the no file bits, however they do flush trim usually the first pass leaves enough for us to have to take out that file, hence the name. VG and HG have different radius cause of thickness. Watch your depth setting - if you get too deep it will turn into a beading bit and wreck the top surface. I dedicate a trimmer to a bit, set it and let it alone till it is time to change the bit.

From contributor H:
I still find myself calling laminate Formica so I guess I'm a little old fashion, but I have used a 1/2" radius roundover bit as a no-file bit for the last 25 years. The setting is critical, but not as critical as the "no-file" bits. Set it up just like any other laminate bit, just deep enough to go through the thickness of the laminate. It even leaves a nice little eased edge instead of a straight sharp cut.