The large holes in the worktop for the hob and sink were cut with our trusty jigsaw. We marked out both ply sheets and cut the holes in each sheet before glueing them together. We did this as we found when trying to cut a 25mm thickness the jigsaw blade tends to wander vertically, leaving a rather ragged tapered hole. We suspect it is possibly a bit too much work for what is a lightweight tool, much easier to just cut through one sheet at a time.
To glue the two sheets of 12mm ply together we used West System Epoxy, purely because we had some. This can be tricky glue to use, but does allow some adjustment when clamping pieces together. Once set overnight epoxy makes a strong, watertight bond; if the ply should ever get wet through spillage the two of layers of 12mm ply are unlikely to part. On reflection, this is probably over the top and one could have just used screws!
We'd avoid using impact (or contact) adhesive to glue big pieces of ply - so easy to get them wrongly lined-up and once impact adhesive sticks, it's nigh impossible to move or pull apart, although we did use this adhesive to fix the laminate.
It took us a while find a local supplier of Formica laminate sheet for the top surface. There was a time when every diy store sold sheets, but nowadays it's all ready-made laminated 40mm thick chipboard tops. Whilst this is ok for a short length, our top was 6 foot long and has some big holes for the sink and hob leaving very little material between the holes and at the sides; we were concerned about the weight and integrity of chipboard if used here.
We were unable to find a laminate off-cut 72 x 22 inches in size and pattern we wanted, so had no choice but to purchase a whole 10 x 4ft sheet. Top quality genuine Formica costs around £90 per sheet, however Formica also make a thinner version, called 'Formica Fundamentals' which costs £45 +vat, so we bought that. The surface would undoubtedly wear out quickly if used in your local cafe, but should survive a lightly-used motorhome.
Marking out the sheet and cutting to size - one can cut this laminate easily with good sharp scissors!
We did not cut out the sheet to the precise dimensions of the ply top, but allowed an extra 12mm of laminate all round.
Marking out the areas on the laminate where the glue will go - no point putting adhesive where the sink and hob holes will be.
Note, the ply has been turned over ready to apply the glue. A coat of adhesive is applied to both the laminate and the ply. Do keep all the doors and windows open, the solvent in the adhesive we used is very potent.
As the laminate is very flexible it is not advisable to try to lower the laminate down over the ply - there is every chance the laminate will sag and inadvertantly stick to the ply before all is lined up. Much easier to lower the ply sheet down over the laminate. We clamped blocks of wood alongside the laminate sheet edge to act as guides for the ply as it was lowered - it's a two-handed job and with instant contact adhesive one only gets one shot at it - a good reason for leaving 12mm spare laminate all round to allow for slight inaccuracy. There are thixothropic glues available which do allow some movement before bonding fully.
In the pic the laminate has been glued to the ply, (sorry, no pics of us actually doing this, we were a mite busy!) the whole top has been turned over and the laminate pressed down firmly, particularly at the edges. It is now left for 24 hours for the contact adhesive to reach maximum strength.
Next day, starting to cut out the sink and hob holes in the laminate with a pad saw. Ideally one should cut the hole from the top side so as not to risk chipping the laminate edge. However, it is difficult to ensure a card pattern would be placed accurately on top, so one would still have to leave extra material for trimming later. In fact the hob and sink have a lip of about 12mm extending out from the fixing hole - this would cover any small chips in the edge.
We worked carefully from the back, just cutting the curves (for the very tight curves we used the piercing saw), leaving some spare material which was later removed with a file. It worked out fine.
This pic shows the row of small holes that were drilled to form a starter slot for the pad saw.
Once all the curves and short sides have been cut with the pad saw, the long straight edges can be cut with a tenon saw from the top side.
We used the same tenon saw to trim all the outside edges and then finally cleaned them up with the jack plane ready for the hardwood edging.
Big sigh of relief at this point! This Formica is very brittle and easily scratched, so we are pleased we managed the job without mishap. All that's left now is the edging...
We had to cut the 10 feet of 25 x 12mm edging from a stock length of 60 x 12mm hardwood. This would be an easy job for a table saw - except we don't have one!
Plywood edge soaks up PVA glue very rapidly, starving the joint. Applying a coat of PVA to the ply edge and letting it dry prevents the subsequent second coat from sinking in, so has time to form a strong bond.
The hardwood strip clamped and taped and left overnight. Next day it was carefully planed level with the laminate surface.
Note: the corner above the fridge has edging that ends in a sharp right-angle. From a safety aspect this may appear not ideal - a hazard should someone trip and fall. Later, we may cut out this corner and insert a solid hardwood lump to give a rounded profile. At the other end of the worktop the corner is not a problem as the top is tight up against the rear door.
In reality it's actually not as bad as it seems - the worktop corner sits behind the small seat back cushion which offers sufficient protection. Best not to build-in safety hazards though!
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