Ipe & maple mallet #3: Burning lines with Formica

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Blog entry by Woodknack posted 03-14-2014 05:18 AM 1691 reads 2 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Turning Part 3 of Ipe & maple mallet series no next part

There was a lot of interest in this part so I’m adding another blog entry.

In the past I’ve used guitar string: burns nicely but abrades the line so it isn’t very dark; bailing wire: gets too hot and scorches the wood around the line and leaves a heavy carbon deposit that can flake off; and even copper wire: conducts heat so efficiently that it doesn’t work.

Then awhile back Captain Eddie mentioned burning lines with plastic laminate (Formica). So I stopped by the local Borg (Lowes/Home Depot) where they have walls of free, small, plastic laminate samples and picked out the ugliest, brightest color sample (so I won’t lose it). I start the line with a either a skew or diamond shaped carbide tool, cut a few millimeters deep, then hold the edge of the Formica against the cut line at around 2000 rpm. It heats up quick and burns a nice clean, black, line. Give it a try, works great.

The samples can be found in the countertop/cabinet section and look like these:

Here is a close up of the nice dark lines using this method:

-- Rick M,

7 comments so far

View CFrye's profile


11223 posts in 2901 days

#1 posted 03-14-2014 10:11 AM

Another tool/trick in the arsenal! Thanks Rick!

-- God bless, Candy

View doubleDD's profile (online now)


10304 posts in 3104 days

#2 posted 03-14-2014 01:00 PM

I have always used the traditional wire method or a piece of hardwood to whatever thickness I needed to burn lines. Since I happen to have 3 samples from the new counter tops we picked out, they will be added to my lathe accessories for further use. I’ll give them a try. Thanks Rick.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

4015 posts in 3313 days

#3 posted 03-14-2014 06:51 PM

Thanks Rick. +1 to another trick to use.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

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21054 posts in 3865 days

#4 posted 03-15-2014 12:59 AM

Hey Rick. Thnx for the tip. Those burns did come out very nice. I’ve always used different sizes of wire. I’ll definitely be picking up a few of these next bigbox store I’m in.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1626 posts in 4626 days

#5 posted 03-25-2014 09:12 PM

Thanks, great tip!

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

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71 posts in 2590 days

#6 posted 05-01-2014 06:10 AM

Looks great, I’ll be sure to grab some next time I’m there!

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8358 posts in 1774 days

#7 posted 07-19-2018 03:01 PM

WOW great tip on Formica Rick ….. I’m also thinking of epoxy mixing board :<))

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN :<))

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