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How to decoratively laminate cabinets and plywood.

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Picture of How to decoratively laminate cabinets and plywood.
This will be a quick guide on how to laminate your own cabinets or plywood projects using formica, contact cement, and a few basic tools, I completed this at the Techshop in San Francisco, a great workspace btw. Techshop.ws 
 
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Step 1: Assemble your materials

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Lamination is great for turning plywood into a great looking piece of wood or furniture. It also can add durability, and water resistance to your countertops. There are three basic elements: Vaneer, glue, and a substrate (usually plywood, mdf, or strong stiff material to bear the load).

This instructable requires
an adjustable router
**Safety info: use full eye protection. ear plugs are also suggested. Routing is loud and the wood bits will fly everywhere. keep track of which way they are flying, and know where the nearest eye wash area is.**
a small roller
some sandpaper on a block
contact cement (for wood i used weldwood by DAP)
**Safety info: use a well ventilated area to apply any type of glue or contact cement**
a brush to clean with
a screwdriver
clippers
eye protection
disposable gloves optional but suggested.

a saw of some type to cut the laminate and the plywood (I suggest a table saw for precision cuts, YMMV with hand tools but i wouldn't suggest it)

Step 2: Cut the laminate

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cut the laminate slightly larger than the size of the substrate. I like a quarter inch on each side.. In this instructable I will be using strips of laminate which were cut using a table saw to finish the exterior of a cabinet, arrange the laminate on a temporary surface such as scrap wood or newspaper. That way when the glue inevitably drips, it isn't permanently attached to your work surface. It helps to tape down the edges of the laminate being aware of your margin. Remember that some laminates and vaneers are brittle against the grain and the worst thing is to finish laminating a large surface only to get a chip or small break.

Step 3: Prepare to glue

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open the canister of glue using the screwdriver. try to keep the glue off nice things and surfaces. It can be removed with acetone if youre quick enough.

Step 4: Coat the surfaces

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wipe off any dust or debris from your laminate and the plywood. make sure its clean or else it wont lay flat together. coat the bottom of the laminate and the top of the plywood with one coat of contact cement. It is best to use long strokes with the roller and to apply the glue evenly, paying special attention to coating the edges well. It helps to batch this process, since the glue takes a while to dry. Also, the plywood may be absorbant, so it is best to apply multiple coats of glue (after each dries). contact cement really does work more on hard contact than wetness, so don't be in too much of a hurry. When the cement is dull and tacky, but not too wet or shiny, it is ready for contact.

Step 5: Put the laminate on the plywood carefully

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for smaller pieces, make sure you have a margin hanging off the edges. for larger pieces, place unglued intermediares on the big flat surfaces

Step 6: Pressure roll the whole surface

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be careful of the edges not to break them but to use enough pressure to get good contact and a seal

Step 7: Route the edges

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be careful when routing the edges. make sure it keeps a constant distance with the edge to be flush but never dig in. also use some pressure on the edge and two hands whenever possible. Eye protection is a must!

Step 8: Voila!

You're done with the lamination. Be mindful when transporting your newly laminated surfaces, as some laminates chip easily at the corners.