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Thread: Bending or forming formica

  1. #1
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    Bending or forming formica

    I want to build a built-in craft desk for my daughter. The space has screamed for a built-in desk from the time I bought the house and that room was the office. I can but a premade countertop but they all include a backsplash, which isn't needed and will only take up (valuable) space. I was thinking of building one, but I don't want a square front edge. That would be quite uncomfortable to rest you forearms on. I would like to round the front edge. That would also allow for one solid piece from the bottom of the front edge to the back. So the question is, how do I form the formica over the rounded front edge? Search brought up little. I suspect heat, but what does that do the contact cement? Anyone have a link to a good procedure for doing this. All I found where large machines and automated processes.

  2. #2
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    Why not rip the backsplash off of a stock postformed top? Or you could get a 26" bar top and rip 1 edge off and still have 24" if needed.
    And to answer your question you would need postform grade laminate(thinner) and heat. Considerable work for one top.
    "Only those who have the patience to do simple things perfectly will acquire the skill to do difficult things easily. Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805)

    Woodworking since 1972

  3. #3
    The short answer is no. I've been working laminate for 20+ years now. In that time I've done plenty of curves. Anything under a 2" radius gets very difficult to do. The postform tops you see in the store are done with very specialized machines for a reason.

  4. #4
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    Look into formica and wilsonart applied edges. Crescent, bevel, etc. They are very easy to apply. You can either face glue them T spline them on. You dont have a dead seamless post formed edge but its something you can easily do yourself. Can be a bit fussy and persinikety with regards to alignment but for a desk would be more than adequate.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  5. #5
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    I would go with the suggestion to rip the backsplash off a Home Depot or Lowe’s counter top
    Steve Jenkins, McKinney, TX. 469 742-9694
    Always use the word "impossible" with extreme caution

  6. #6
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    Band it in wood...you can create a very nice molding that has the roundover/bullnose that you want and it will also hide the edge of the laminate on the field of the table top. If you don't want the wood look you can use alternative solid materials but the same techniques.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  7. #7
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    Lowes has some pretty inexpensive butcher block tops, usually in stock. Cut to size, round over the front edge with your router, finish and Jean-Guy's Your Uncle. https://www.lowes.com/pd/Sparrow-Pea...top/1001390008

    Postforming laminate tops isn't an option without specialized machinery.

  8. #8
    You can special order tops with one edge or two edges rounded. The same companies that do the rounded style integrated backsplash do these as well they just generally aren't a stock item at the big box stores. Go to the kitchen desk at a big box store and have them quote you what you are looking for if you don't want to build a top banded in wood as Jim suggests.

  9. #9
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    Riping off the backsplash isn't going to be a good option. If it is ripped to leave the depth, then there will be a section of exposed pressboard. If it is ripped to remove the press board it will be about 3" shallower.

    Thanks for the confirmation that it takes special equipment to form the standard rounded edge. That was what I was finding, but was hoping someone knew of a DIY solution.

    I don't think a 'custom' order countertop with no backsplash will be all that cheap (ie., custom). But I will check, as it would be a great solution. I will think about the butcher block idea as well.

  10. #10
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    Maybe one of the other materials would be better? I personally really prefer a wood desktop over a formica. Second best in my opinion would be a solid surface like Corian. If you can find some, the solid surface products aren't that hard to work with normal woodworking tools and an inquisitive mind.

  11. #11
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    I prefer to add a wood strip (glued) to the front of the mdf sheet then laminate over the complete top, rough trim the laminate to size then use a router bit to finish the front edge.
    Finish the exposed wood with whatever stain and finish you prefer.
    I like the custom look and different look you get this way.
    If you really want a rounded edge or bullnose, etc. then make it on the wood strip and add the wood stip after you laminate the top

    GOOD LUCK
    Ron

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Selzer View Post
    I prefer to add a wood strip (glued) to the front of the mdf sheet then laminate over the complete top, rough trim the laminate to size then use a router bit to finish the front edge.
    Finish the exposed wood with whatever stain and finish you prefer.
    I like the custom look and different look you get this way.
    If you really want a rounded edge or bullnose, etc. then make it on the wood strip and add the wood stip after you laminate the top

    GOOD LUCK
    Ron
    What if I glue the hard wood strip to the mdf base, then attached the laminate, then trim and round over the laminate sheet and the hardwood nose as one piece?

    I know the square front edge on my desk is not comfortable on my forearms.
    Last edited by Anthony Whitesell; 01-19-2020 at 1:55 PM.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Anthony Whitesell View Post
    What if I glue the hard wood strip to the mdf base, then attached the laminate, then trim and round over the laminate sheet and the hardwood nose as one piece?

    I know the square front edge on my desk is not comfortable on my forearms.
    Likely the laminate will disintegrate where the wood round over meets the laminate round over since you would be using a contact glue. I would not attempt that having made more than a few laminate tops. To not have the laminate edge disintegrate the round over bit would have to take out at least 1/16" through the laminate so it steps down to the round over, which probably isn't what you want.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anthony Whitesell View Post
    I don't think a 'custom' order countertop with no backsplash will be all that cheap (ie., custom). But I will check, as it would be a great solution. I will think about the butcher block idea as well.
    Custom as meant here is "not stocked in the store". Most of the tops sold by the big box stores are custom ordered from a selection of styles and "standard" popular laminate offerings because every kitchen and bath is different. These tops are sold by either the square foot or linear foot depending on the style. Two rounded edges is a standard style commonly used for island or bar tops. The narrow ends will be a 90 degree hard edge but you can have it made as a large radius as a standard option. So long as you pick a color laminate that the vendor that supplied the big box store has as a standard offering the type of top you want should be as cheap as what they have in stock at the stores which is $20 to $25 square foot. Shipping to the store is usually free so all you have to do is pick it up maybe a week or so after you order it.
    Last edited by Tom Dixon; 01-19-2020 at 2:26 PM.

  14. #14
    This is a good example of the difference in how home owners think and how cabinet guys think. While many home
    owners like that round , many cabinet guys don't . They take great pride in sticking on those little strips....and when
    they start to peel and fall off.....they are not there.

  15. #15
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    The house I'm in now has oak kitchen cabinets with formica tops. The cabinet shop edge banded the the front and sides of the counter tops with about 1/2 inch solid oak then glued the formica on. After that the edges were routed. When I remodeled my laundry area I made a utility sink cabinet with the same type top, except I used maple.

    I used the same ogee profile as the kitchen tops but you could just as easily use a large roundover bit, just plan your edge banding thickness accordingly. If you decide to go this way I would use the bit so there is a slight step to get a nice straight edge on the formica. You can soften it after routing with a fine file. And, as someone mentioned, don't use mdf for the top. Plywood would be a good choice.
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