How to Route Laminate Countertops

Written by mark morris
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How to Route Laminate Countertops
Follow the router with a file for a perfect countertop edge. (Apple bowl image by bluefern from

Laminate is a thin sheet of stiff, somewhat brittle plastic composite that is frequently used to cover kitchen work tops. The laminate is typically adhered to a plywood substrate using contact cement. To cover the plywood accurately the laminate is cut a little large, leaving a rough overhang. Routing the rough edges from laminate is the easiest and fastest way to get a clean cut edge. File your edge with a mill bastard file for a perfect finish.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Router
  • 2 wrenches
  • Cut off bit with bearing
  • Wax
  • Mill bastard file

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  1. 1

    Install a cut off bit with a bearing in your router. Typically there are two collett nuts on the end of the spindle, or axle, at the bottom of the router. Turn the outside nut counterclockwise with one wrench while turning the inside nut clockwise with a separate wrench to open the collett. Set the shaft of the bit into the collett and turn the nuts in the opposite direction to tighten the bit in place.

  2. 2

    Release the base by unlocking the buckle or twisting the wing nut, depending on the router. Whichever your router has will be located on the side of the motor housing. Adjust the depth of the blade by twisting the base clockwise to drop the base, raising, the bit, or counterclockwise, raising the base and dropping the bit. Adjust it so that the bearing of the bit is below the laminate on the countertop and rides along the edge underneath.

  3. 3

    Apply wax or silicon spray lubricant to the router bit's bearing to prevent friction burns on the countertop edge. Set the router in place and hold firmly. Flip the power switch to start the router and let it come up to speed. Move the router with steady pressure toward your left, or counterclockwise through the laminate. Continue at a steady speed, to avoid chips in the laminate around all edges of the counter top. Turn the router off and make sure the bit comes to complete stop before lifting it away from the surface.

  4. 4

    Rub your finger carefully along the edge you just cut to feel the roughness. You will be filing this down. Hold the mill bastard file with the handle edge down against the seam between the laminate you cut and the countertop edge. Tilt the file toward the top of the counter approximately 45 degrees. Turn the handle end toward the left so that the tip of the file is pointed slightly to the right. This lines up the files ridges to smooth the laminate. Starting at the left end, work toward to right, rubbing the file in long strokes along the seam in the laminated edge. Continue filing along the edge until the rough edge is smooth.

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