Router Table #2: Epic Failure

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Blog entry by baniels posted 11-15-2009 10:45 PM 1927 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: The Table Top Part 2 of Router Table series no next part

Got my Microdot Friday. Yay!

I had found a good wood filler a few days ago and had filled in and sanded all of the holes.

I covered both surfaces with ample adhesive. Waited until they were plenty dry. Just as before, I used dowels to keep the pieces apart as I wined them up. Removed the dowels one by one and pressed on the Formica.

I did a preliminary rolling with the J-Roller then flush trimmed the edges of the laminate. Everything was going fine.

I spent 10 minutes furiously rolling the laminate with all of my might. And then I noticed a bubble. A large bubble. An area approximately 20” square was not sticking. It wasn’t a high bubble, maybe a 16th or so. Enough that I could tap on it and hear it slap the MDF underneath.

I don’t know what happened. Maybe I didn’t use enough adhesive. Whatever the cause I decided to rip off the laminate and try again. IMPOSSIBLE.

I could not for the life of me get the cured adhesive off. It came up in some spots, but mostly it stuck. The adhesive jar said to use 3M Citrus Base Cleaner to remove dried adhesive. Of course my small Iowa town held no such stores stocking this stuff. I went to hardware store and was recommended a solvent to use.

I went home and used it, but found that it wasn’t doing the trick. After some time, I decided to leave it be and wait until the next day (today) to come up with another plan.

Well, this morning I learned that the solvent I used was absolutely the wrong stuff. Everywhere the solvent touched the MDF caused swelling and bumps. Little bumps all over the table I agonized over in order to maintain flatness. Now it is toast.

I’ve been thinking some now about granite for my table. It just so happens that this company is in my town and I happen to know the owner pretty well. I might swing over there Monday. New blog will be created if I go that route.

10 comments so far

View FunnelStudio's profile


30 posts in 3823 days

#1 posted 11-15-2009 11:07 PM

You know, everyone seems to love putting laminate on router table tops, and i have done so in the past, but I just made a new one with a 1” thick mdf top. I put on some poly and then paste wax, and it works just as good. It might not be all white and pretty, but it sure beats routing out for the plate and finding bubbles. Just a thought for next time.

-- -Shaun M. Baer,

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 3874 days

#2 posted 11-15-2009 11:15 PM

With MDF, I find it nescessary to put a second coat of cement on it before putting the pieces together. If you have this problem agin some time, use a heat gun to soften the cement and peel the laminate off.

View douginaz's profile


220 posts in 4507 days

#3 posted 11-16-2009 02:10 AM

I feel your pain, I hope you have a way of working the granite, I would not have a clue how to make holes or really do much of anything with it. Let us know what happens.
Doug in AZ.

-- If you need craft books - please visit our small business at

View sras's profile


5191 posts in 3635 days

#4 posted 11-16-2009 02:39 AM

One way to help minimize the chance of bubbles is as follows (you may already know this):

1. Coat wood and laminate. Two coats on MDF is a very good idea as Dan points out.
2. Lay several wood strips of wood across the rigid surface. I find about a 6” spacing is good, but up to 10 can work. The idea is to not let the laminate touch the glued wood ANYWHERE!
3. Position the laminate on the strips. With the strips preventing contact between the two glued surfaces you can adjust the position of the laminate where you want.
4. Starting on one edge, slide out one strip. I usually lift the laminate up so the first strip comes out easily.
5. Seal the laminate down along this first edge. Since it is such a small area, it is pretty easy to make sure no bubbles have formed.
6. Now remove next strip, press down starting from the sealed side.
7. Repeat until all strips are out.

Like I said, you may already have done this. Sorry the info is a little late if you needed it!


-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View ChunkyC's profile


856 posts in 3760 days

#5 posted 11-16-2009 02:53 AM

Man that’s just awful. That special order Formica doesn’t come cheep. You almost have to own a bank to afford a sheet of it.

Great timing as I’m getting everything laid out to put the laminate on my router top. Now you’ve got me worried. lol.


-- Chunk's Workshop pictures:

View OhValleyWoodandWool's profile


970 posts in 3626 days

#6 posted 11-16-2009 10:07 PM

I’m with FunnelStudio. Rather than deal with laminate and contact cement and crap I’d rather just make a new top every once and again.


-- "All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then Success is sure." Mark Twain

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3792 days

#7 posted 11-17-2009 01:30 AM

If you are using solvent based contact cement, I’ve found lacquer thinner works well to release the laminate.
Will not work for water based adhesive.

Again, for solvent bsed only, I have used a hot iron (like for clothes) on the bubble. Place a towel on the laminate to prevent damage. Heat well, then put pressure for a while till it cools—don’t ask me how, you’ll have to get creative (sit on it maybe)


View drfixit's profile


318 posts in 3649 days

#8 posted 11-17-2009 02:01 AM

I tried laminate too, didnt work so well for me… so I went to the other extreme, Aluminum got a piece the same thickness as my router plate, had a local machine shop cut it for me. Then i screwed it down to 2 layers of mdf. I then polished it and waxed, it works great.

-- I GIVE UP!!!! I've cut this @!&*!% board 3 times.... its still too short!

View bigike's profile


4057 posts in 3794 days

#9 posted 11-17-2009 02:34 AM

drfixit, i love that idea of using the aluminum on the router table sweet idea.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://[email protected]

View Jon3's profile


497 posts in 4611 days

#10 posted 11-20-2009 10:12 PM

The one thing I love about the formica laminate is that I can write on it in pencil, run stuff over it and it stays there, then I can just erase it later.

On a router table, that can be really helpful for setup.

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