The next time you see a finished natural or engineered stone countertop, take a close look at the lamination. Most laminations that I see are jagged, wide and stick out like a sore thumb. My laminations are so tight that in many cases, you cannot even see the fine line. How do I get them so tight? The key is preparation, and the following is the basic procedure I use to get those tight laminations..
- Flat table
- Wax or butcher paper
- Tape measure
- Alpha turbo wheel; 100 grit
- Electric or air polisher
- Turbo wheel adapter
- Clear flowing epoxy
- Mixing containers
- Mixing sticks, popsicle sticks or tongue depressors
- Plastic gloves
- C-clamps(enough to clamp every 3 in.)
- Set the stone piece on a flat surface, making sure the surface is level. The stone should be laid on the surface upside down with the polished face down. Be careful not to scratch the polished surface. If necessary lay the stone on top of some wax paper or other protective paper or cloth.
- Measure the stone back twice the width of the intended lamination strip. For example, if the lamination strip is going to be 2 in. wide then measure back 4 in. With a marker draw a line perpendicular to the front edge of the stone.
- Place a 100 grit Alpha Turbo wheel on a hand polisher and grind the area from the front edge to your mark. Work the abrasive until it is smoothed. The purpose of honing the back side is to smooth the stone so that the lamination will be tight.
- Once the back side area is ground, flip the top over with the polished face in the up position.
- Move the piece to your saw and cut off half the lamination strip. In our example above, you would cut off a 2-in. piece.
- Once the stone is cut, dry off the sides of the stone that will be laminated together.
- Set the stone aside on a separate table where you will glue the two pieces together.
- Prepare the clear flowing epoxy by mixing two Parts A to one Part B. Measure carefully with paper cups or use a dispenser. It is important that only epoxy be used. Polyester glues are not acceptable for lamination since they have a weaker bond strength than epoxy and will fail in many cases. Make sure to use only the flowing grade epoxy; too thick of an epoxy will make your lamination seam too wide. It is advisable to wear gloves for this operation.
- Spread the epoxy onto the large piece and trowel it with a plastic putty knife or popsicle stick.
- Take the lamination strip and place it on top of the epoxy and move it back and forth and side to side to make sure the epoxy is getting 100 percent contact with the stone.
- Take your clamps and clamp the laminated edge every 3 in.
- Allow the stone to dry overnight before continuing.
Notice that I am using no coloring. For most stone, adding color to your epoxy will make the lamination line stick out. However, I have found that certain stones like Black Absolute and other black stones do require just a hint of black dye. Also, there are special lamination clamps that can be purchased from most stone tool suppliers that work much better than the C-clamps.
By using a skillful combination of the techniques described, you can make laminations so tight they are practically invisible.
The above article is an excerpt from NTC's new book The Stone Fabrication Bible. More information is available online at www.shop.ntc-stone.com.