A laminate trimmer is a useful tool when installing laminate on cupboards or countertops. It can create an instant upgrade to your cabinetry as well as professional look and finish to any do-it-yourself job.
A Mini Router
Modern laminate trimmers are nearly a fully-functional routers. They can trim and flush pieces, but many can also joint, round edges, and rout grooves and dados, chamfers, tenons, mortises and dovetails.
The only sticking point is that laminate trimmers are smaller versions of a usual router, generally ¾ horsepower to 1 horsepower, as opposed to the 1 to 3 horsepower of most typical routers.
Woodworkers who have a standard router and a laminate trimmer often keep the trimming chamfer bit on the laminate trimmer so that it is always ready for the small jobs without changing the bit.
Look at the Features
Before deciding on a laminate trimmer, look for one that accepts a variety of different types of bits for the most flexibility. Tool-free adjustment is a great feature that allows you to work easily between bits and depths.
A cast aluminum base gives greater durability to a trimmer, as well as smoother operation.
Before using a laminate trimmer, you should read the manuals completely so that you understand the operation of the tool.
Use the appropriate safety precautions—wear safety glasses, remove rings and watches, and button long sleeves. Always use ear protectiion when using a laminate trimmer.
Prepare for making a clean cut with your laminate trimmer by installing the appropriate bit. Loosen the latch and adjust the bit to the proper depth for your project. Consult the instructions that come with your flooring and the trimmer to make that determination.
A dull bit will chip the laminate, so be sure the bit is new or sharp.
Use Clamps for Safety
Clamp a guide board to your cutting surface to help guide your trimmer and keep it in line.
Use clamps to hold your laminate in place. If you don’t use clamps, it is likely to slide and turn leading to a messy and irregular cut.
Make the Cuts
For most trimming applications, use a sharp, straight bit. Carefully hold the router vertical and flush with the laminate. Measure carefully before cutting and use the guideboard for a straight cut.
Use 'push' strokes as you cut with the trimmer, pushing it gently away from you rather than pulling it toward you. If you use a pulling stroke, you will run the great risk of chipping or breaking the laminate surface.
For a fine finish, follow up after the trimmer with a fine file that will finish off the piece. The trimmer does a good job with the edges, but many people like an even smoother finish for a perfect fit.
Use care to only file off the rough edges and not to file into the laminate, damaging the pieces.