Cutting a formica top cleanly

I picked up a couple of formica countertops at Ikea many years ago to use as desk surfaces. They're about 1-1/2" thick particle board and still in excellent condition. I cut one down to make a new desk in our home office. I'd like to do the same for a desk for my daughter's room.
I thought awhile about how I might cut the first one. Not knowing anything, I ended up scoring the line with a razor knife a bunch of times, then using a small circular saw to cut just barely through the formica and a 7" circular saw to cut through the rest. I cut it from the top. The result was passable, but I think it could have been better.
I'm wondering what other ways there might be to go about this. I was considering using a router to make a shallow cut through the formica, then follow it with a circular saw.
I plan to finish off the ends with 1x2 oak by the way.
Thanks in advance.
Greg Guarino
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Do all the cutting with the router bit in several passes.
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On Mon, 18 Sep 2006 03:46:43 GMT, "Leon"

long? And if they do, wouldn't they probably be a larger diameter (plowing out more material) than one would ideally want?
Don't get me wrong; the idea of setting up a fence ONCE really appeals to my sense of precision (and laziness), but I wonder if it's practical.
Greg Guarino
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Greg Guarino wrote:

need an up cutting bit. You wouldn't really be losing anymore than if you rough cut, then trimmed with the router. Downside is the bits are solid carbide and expensive. You could also use a regular straight cutting bit from the top and either score the cut line or take a very shallow first pass.
Jess.S
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Greg Guarino wrote:

Yes. Here's an example: <http://www.westerntool.com/product.htm?pidP2711
> And if they do, wouldn't they probably be a larger diameter

Any diameter bit can remove as little or as much as you want.
I cut and square the ends of table and counter tops on a regular basis in three easy steps:
- Mark the cut line - Cut to within 3/8-1/2" of the cut line with a circular, jig, or hand saw. - Clamp a straight edge (jointed wood, angle iron, spirit level, etc...) to the top in a location where the bit will remove 1/4" or so, as the router base slides along the straight edge. Make two passes, with the second ending exactly at the cut line.
- (optional) Enjoy your perfect edge.
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wrote:

I've got to do some searching. I'm a weekend home-handyman with a 1/4" shank router.

True, if you cut it almost to length with a saw beforehand, which is what you are suggesting.

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Greg Guarino wrote:

A good router, with 1/2" and 1/4" collets, like a PC690, Bosch 1617, or the equivalent from DeWalt or Milwaukee, might be a useful addition for a serious weekend handyman.
Otherwise, after purchasing a suitable bit, you could probably rent one for a few hours. My local Home Depot and independent rental centers actually have pretty good rentals at reasonable rates. Routers, sanders, hammer drills, etc... are only ~$15-$20 for 4 hours, here in East Westchester County, USA (CT <G>).
As much as I hate Home Depot, my local rental center has served me well. They sell off the tools on a regular basis, so the stuff I've rented has been in top notch condition.
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Greg Guarino wrote:

Score along the cut-off line. Cut 5 or 6mm proud of the line 9The waste side. Use planer to trim down to the cut of line. All fixed :)
regards John
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Sounds like a pretty good idea, but I'd look into a spiral downcut bit to reduce chipping. That might require cutting it a little bit long (1/8"?) first, then trimming with the router to clean up the cut. Another idea I've heard is to cover the cut with masking tape, and then cut it upside down with the circular saw (so the teeth are cutting into the formica, not exiting it). No, don't hold the saw upside down, turn the workpiece upside down before cutting it. Of course a good blade with lots of sharp carbide teeth (maybe a plywood or crosscut blade?) would help. If it were me, I'd definitely do some practice cuts on the ends I was planning to cut off. Good luck, Andy
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I'm a weekend homeowner/handyman kind of guy, not by any means a real woodworker. I've got a run-of-the-mill Skil circular saw with a better blade than what came with it originally.

I've got plenty of excess. I'll definitely do that this time. My luck I'll probably cut it perfectly, but too long, on the first pass and never get as good a result again.
Thanks for the advice.
Greg Guarino
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On Mon, 18 Sep 2006 04:08:45 GMT, John B

I haven't got a planer, although your idea does otherwise sound like a good plan. Do you lend your tools to strangers? (in New York?) :)
Greg Guarino
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Cut it close to 1/4" or 1/2" with the power saw and then finish it off with a straightedge and a router.
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wrote:

expected to cut? The piece is an inch and a half thick. What router bit would you get for this task? I've only got a couple, none of which will suit this application.
I'm guessing that the reason people are suggesting using the router for the whole cut is so there's just one setup, guaranteeing precision. But I lose that if I have to do half the cut from each side, don't I?
Greg Guarino
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Greg Guarino wrote:

Greg,
Straight cutting router bits come in lengths up to 2" tho probably not in 1/4" shank. You can use them on thicker pieces by using pattern bits (straight bits with a bearing on top) and flush trimming bits (straight bits with a bearing on the bottom). Regular straight bits (with or without bearings) are much cheaper than the solid carbide spiral bits.
Unless you are willing to spend some money on a bit or three, I'd just use your 7" saw with a good fine tooth blade and a straight edge guide, cutting from the back. Pre-score the cut line to reduce chipout. On the other hand, it is a reason to add to your router bit collection. =)
Jess.S
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Sure, there's long enough bits available. Here's a few samples. I'd be looking at using them to trim, not to insert. http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=3&p0165&cat=1,46168,46171&ap=1 http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=3&p0166&cat=1,46168,46171&ap=1
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: I thought awhile about how I might cut the first one. Not knowing : anything, I ended up scoring the line with a razor knife a bunch of : times, then using a small circular saw to cut just barely through the : formica and a 7" circular saw to cut through the rest. I cut it from : the top. The result was passable, but I think it could have been : better.
: I'm wondering what other ways there might be to go about this. I was : considering using a router to make a shallow cut through the formica, : then follow it with a circular saw.
Get a 40 tooth or better blade for the circular saw.
Turn the countertops upside down, so that the saw blade cuts inwards toward the formica (if right side up, the blade would pull the forimica upwards, causing chipping).
`    -- Andy Barss
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Andy is right! Bought a brand new 40 tooth blade and did the same thing and it came out perfect.... Your mileage may vary.....:~)
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http://www.woodworkingtips.com/etips/etip022500wb.html
Make two versions:
(1) for a circular saw (2) for a router(much cleaner cut)
Greg Guarino wrote:

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