A little gloat -- at an estate sale, I got a woodworker's
stockpile of wood for 15 dollars (the whole lot) because
the person in charge of the estate didn't want to haul it
out -- lots of oak, some maple, and pine.
In that stack was a nice formica top that I want to use
as my router top table. The thing is, I've never dealt with
How do I cut it? Can I use a circular saw/table saw? Can I
use a standard router bit to rout out the miter slot? Is there
anything I need to keep in mind in working with it?
You can cut it with a table saw IF you run a strip of masking tape along
where you're going to cut it; otherwise, you'll get some chipping. Router
bits are fine as long as they are very sharp, but that goes without saying.
I've used an 80T Forrest Chopmaster, with a crosscut sled and/or zero
clearance inserts, with great results. My other 80T miter saw blade did
not do as well. The Forrest has a negative tooth angle, while the other
I've now built out several large closets using the CM with great
results. There is a _small_ amount of chipping on the bottom, so keep
the show side up.
Tape gained me nothing.
Treat it like wood veneer of similar thickness. It will cut easily on the
TS but I prefer to use the TS to get close as some chipping is very likely.
I mill to finished dimensions with a flush cut router bit preferably with a
ball bearing pilot.
If you use a circular, may sure you cut the formica with the glue side
up to reduce chipping.
On a table saw, glue side down for the same effect. You want your
blade to cut through the laminate face, not push through it.
Make sure all blades and bits are sharp and clean. When you are doing
your edges, don't try to get your router to cut a perfect corner/edge
if you aren't used to setting it up. Come back later if you have an
area that is a little proud after edging, and use a #8 mill bastard
file to finish off those areas to flush.
Just finished up cutting up a desk with a formica top for a router
table and had no problems. If using TS cut formica up, CS formica
down. Router bits easily cut through it (I used carbide carbide
If the formica top you have is particle board I would recommend
wrapping the edges with something to prevent deterioration. Any wood
you have laying around will do the job.
Thanks, everyone, for the help with this. I think I'm ready to
But here's another question. Does anyone work from front to
back on a router table, instead of side to side? I learned to
use a router table by copying what the guys on the Router
Workshop tv show did. I know they went back to front so the
camera could show what they were doing, but I also got used to
working that way. Anyone else?
My router table is 2ft by 4 ft and shares duty as table saw aux table
(back). I placed the router off center to make room for drawers underneath
and for routine router setups to interfere less with most tablesaw
operations. By happenstance I do most of my routing off the 2 ft end....from
day one it was always the most comfortable position. The 2 ft is ample for
most operations and is obviously a easier width for fence building or normal
operations. But if need arises I still have the 4 ft length for more
material support. I suppose in use though I'm still actually going side to
side as I stand off of one end.......Rod
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