V-grooving, aka miter folding, has been around for a number of years, but it wasn't until about 10 years ago that this technology found its way into solid surface shops. Many fabricators I know use v-grooving every day to help their productivity because v-grooving means more tops out the door per day. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Not quite. Like all high productivity tools, not every shop is ready for a v-groover. I've seen many shops where the v-groover sits under a layer of dust and scrap pieces.
While it can be a great timesaver, it makes a lousy and expensive storage bench. So, you should first determine if you're a good candidate for one.
Know Your Products
Do you sell vanity tops? Countertops? Windowsills? Commercial or residential? Are you highly custom? Believe it or not, a v-groover can help here, too. The determining factor is not only what your products are, but also how you make them. For example, do you currently make "stack"(strips applied in layers) or "drop" (single vertical piece) front edges? Do your tops typically have lots of curves or are they straight lines?
Scenario 1: On a weekly basis, a shop pumps out 25 builder kitchens, 50 vanity tops and 25 windowsills for an ongoing commercial contract. All units have a drop edge. If this shop doesn't already have a v-groover then shame on the owner — it's a perfect match.
Scenario 2: The kitchens now include custom SUB sinks and cove backsplashes. Some have sweeping radii. The vanity tops also have SUB lavs and coved splashes. Forget it, you say? Not necessarily. Aside from the top with the sweeping radius, all the rest are v-groove eligible. And did you realize that there are cutters available to make a 3⁄8-in. radius, as well as a ½-in. radius coved backsplash? For the most part, a v-grooved coved splash is easy. Turning an inside corner can be tricky, but I'll show you a technique or two that can save you some time.
There are a few things to keep in mind when researching:
Front edges — sure, v-grooving a front edge is extremely easy and effective if you typically make drop edges. However, even a stack edge can be simulated. Making two passes and folding the edge under 180 degrees will do the trick. Just keep in mind that there will be less material for the deck and splash. Because the seam in the edge faces up and out, it might show more easily, especially in large routed edge details. So typically a simple roundover or chamfer is used.
Seaming — seaming tops together is done by butting the turned down edge of the two tops to be joined. Obviously, this seam cannot be easily reinforced. But a seam that is 1 ¼ to 1 ½ in. deep is fairly strong. To help things out, back up the edge seams with strips of additional material. This makes the diagonal (closed up "v" seams) stronger. Because there is no opportunity for an offset seam, an insert is needed in order to make the inside corner radius. And remember to check with the material manufacturer for the minimum inside corner they require. There are some products available that can help.
So, should you all rush out and hunt up a v-groover? No. But if you have an interest, I strongly suggest that you take the time to study your business to see if it will be a good fit. Do the research to fully understand the potential and limitations of the process and the machines out there. Then you too might end up v-grooving on a Sunday afternoon.
About the author:
Tony Basilio is a technical representative with DuPont Surfaces, P.O. Box 80701, Rm 1214,Wilmington, DE 19805, 800-4-CORIAN, anthony.n.basilio-jr@USA.dupont.com, www.corian.com.