Plastic laminate, also known as "formica" after a common brand of laminate, is a hard brittle material used to cover countertops and cabinet doors and drawer fronts. Since the laminate has a hard outer shell with a slick gloss coating, drilling through it can be a challenge. As with all hard surfaces, use a new sharp bit for a clean cut. Position yourself so that both hands are available for holding the drill steady, as the slick surface has a tendency to make bits "walk" across the surface.
Use a tape measure to locate the exact spot for the hole. Mark the spot on the laminate with a fine point marker. Select a sharp drill bit in the correct diameter. Look for a size marking typically expressed as a fraction, or in metric, printed at the base of the bit. Choose a carbide or diamond tip, if available, for best results. Select a smaller bit, 1/8 inch or less to drill a starter hole.
Set the drill to reverse and firmly grip the chuck ring. Press the trigger to turn the drill and hold on as the chuck opens. Set the 1/8 inch bit into the chuck, all the way to the back. Switch the drill to forward and grab the chuck ring. Press the trigger to close and tighten the chuck.
Position the tip of the bit on the mark you made on the laminate and square the drill up, so that the bit is perpendicular to the surface of the laminate. Press the trigger lightly and allow the drill to turn at a slow speed, pressing firmly to keep the bit in place. Maintain the low speed until you are through the laminates outer coating. Stop the drill. Allow the bit to cool then remove it from the chuck.
Open the chuck and insert the right sized bit. Tighten the chuck back as before, locking the bit in place. Position the bit tip in the centre of the pilot hole you bored through the plastic laminate. Adjust the drill until the bit is perpendicular as before.
Press the trigger in fully and take the drill up to full speed. Keep boring until you punch through, or reach the desired depth. Keep the drill turning as you pull the bit out of the hole, then release the trigger. Wait for the bit to cool before attempting to remove it.
Things you need
- Tape measure
- 1/8 inch bit
- Cordless drill
- Bit sized to your hole