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Perfect Butt Joints in Laminate Rutland VT

It's easy to get professional-looking results with an underscribe attachment on a trim router. The term underscribe refers to the attachment riding under the piece being scribed. The cut is guided by a small lip on the underside of the attachment that follows the straight edge on the bottom piece of laminate.

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Perfect Butt Joints in Laminate

Perfect Butt Joints in Laminate

An Underscribe Router Attachment Guarantees Success

by Brad Holden

Long countertops or those that turn corners need butt joints. You can use several methods to make this joint, but the easiest way to get tight-fitting, professional-

looking results is with an underscribe attachment on a trim router. The term underscribe refers to the attachment riding under the piece being scribed. The cut is guided by a small lip on the underside of the attachment that follows the straight edge on the bottom piece of laminate (see Fig. A, below).

1. Start by making a couple of small (approximately 12-in. x 12-in.) test countertops from scraps of the same laminate you will use in your finished project. Using the same kind of laminate is important, because even a small difference in laminate thickness will affect the accuracy and fit of the final joint. Use the test countertops and Steps 2 through 9, to set up the underscribe attachment. Rout an inch or two on one of the test tops, check the fit and adjust the underscribe base as necessary. The base has built-in micro-adjusters, so fine-tuning is simple. When you have the perfect fit, run one more test cut using the entire joint on one of the test countertops. You will only get one shot at your project, so now is the time to fine-tune the attachment to perfection. 

2. Rout a straight edge on one piece of laminate (Photo 1). You’ll end up with a small burr on the bottom edge of the laminate. Remove the burr with a file, so the laminate will glue down completely flat. Mark a straight pencil line along this straight edge. The lip on the underscibe attachment rides on this edge and guides the router through the cut. As a result, this first piece of laminate is called the guide piece. Mark the adjoining edge on the second piece of laminate with a wavy line to show that it has a rough edge (Photo 2).

3. Position the guide piece on the substrate without adhesive and make a pencil line on the substrate along the laminate’s straight edge. Next, lay down the second piece, overlapping the guide piece by 1/4 in. to 3/4 in. Use pieces of masking tape to mark this overlap.

4. Remove the laminate pieces from the substrate and apply adhesive to all parts.

5. Reapply the guide piece of laminate, making sure it lines up with the pencil mark you traced onto the substrate in Step 3. Use spacer sticks to prevent it from sticking until you have the laminate aligned. Pull out one stick at a time, starting with the edge closest to the pencil line. Use a laminate roller to make sure the laminate is thoroughly pressed down.

6. Apply the overlap piece using the same method. Line it up with the tape on the guide piece, remove the spacer sticks, and roll it down. Roll as close to the seam as you can. This helps prevent chips from getting under the laminate when you rout the seam. Also, a vacuum attachment is available for the underscribe attachment. It removes alm...

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