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How to Select a Router Bit to Cut Formica

Updated February 21, 2017

Formica is one of the best products on the market today. It has evolved over the years to include more than just countertop covering. However, cutting the product has not changed. To get the best possible cut requires clamps, straightedges and sharp router bits. The type of bit to be used depends on the reason for the cut.

Research router bits on the Internet. If you don't have access to the Internet, a trip to the local hardware store is advised. Many different router bits can be used to cut Formica, so investigating is the best place to start.

Weigh the pros and cons of each bit available for cutting Formica. For example, a bit that has no ball bearing guide can penetrate the Formica at the sink, but it would not produce the required finish because it would burn into the wood. However, when cutting precise splices using a straightedge, this bit is ideal.

Comparing the router bit from Step 2 with a flush trim bit with ball bearing guides will reveal the solution for the project at hand. A hole will have to be drilled through the Formica at the sink hole. Then the bit with the ball bearing guide can follow the contour of the cutout for the sink.

Cut the Formica overhanging the edge with the same type of bit used for the sink cutout. The ball bearing guides will prevent burning the Formica on the front edge of the countertop. Check the bearings before cutting the overhang because they can get contact adhesive build-up from previous cuts, which can cause the bearings to freeze up and burn the front edge of the countertop. Keep plenty of paraffin wax on hand to coat the front edge. This will help reduce the chances of burning the Formica edge.

Creating a bevelled edge when the front edge of the countertop is hardwood requires a bevel bit made for this specific purpose. This bit also has the ball bearing guide and will bevel the wood and the edge of the Formica at the same time.

Cleaning the bearings in this bit is just as important as any bit with bearings. Lacquer thinner is the best for cleaning quickly, but Naphtha will do a better cleaning job. It takes a little longer, but it is a petroleum product and helps lubricate the bearings.

Tip

Always wear safety glasses. If you have to use a bit with frozen bearings, apply a good amount of paraffin wax to the edge before trimming. Always grip the router firmly.

Warning

Do not leave power tools unattended. Do not handle freshly cut edges of Formica without gloves to avoid cuts. Do not move too quickly when routing Formica to avoid breakage of the Formica.

Things You'll Need

  • Formica
  • Router
  • Paraffin wax (optional)
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About the Author

Michael Straessle has written professionally about the construction industry since 1988. He authored “What a Strange Little Man,” among other books, and his work has appeared in various online publications. Straessle earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in professional/technical writing.