Preventing laminate (glued to wood) tearout?

as the others have said, if it’s a straight bit you’ll want to use a down cut spiral. for a v-bit the options are more limited. Traditionally I’ll mask over the area to be cut with painters tape before I cut with anything other than a down cut bit on veneered materials. it won’t stop tearout but has reduced it quite a bit in my experience. I use the same technique when cross-grain cutting plywood on the table saw and it helps a ton, even with a zero clearance insert.

Not many options with a v-bit. If it’s suitable for your project I would follow the others advice and try a very small downcut bit,0?source=googleproducts&gdffi=df1cb0f3ab644accbe5cae9671f148bf&gdfms=D73F2F55727948A7AA350E2B64A412BB&gclid=CJep7MPU588CFVJahgodMTIHig

Thanks for all the advice. As stated in my first post I was using a v-bit. I’m afraid using anything else wouldn’t work for most of the stuff I do.

PhilJohnson, that is about 1-2mm deep, so I’m not sure dividing this already tiny depth into multiple passes would do anything. But to answer your question I’m using Fusion 360.

I think I’m drunk. I missed the meanings. I thought you both giving advice for down cut bit, you were guesing what kind bit he’s using.
Yea boy use downcut bit, no tear. :nerd_face:

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This is a new bit and this was my first carve with it. For the past year I’ve v-carved up to 0.375" (9.5mm) deep in one pass with no issues. I know it’s overdoing it and I don’t do it often (at least not on purpose) but with a new bit it cuts like butter. Actually now that I’ve converted 2mm to inches (0.079"), I know my cut wasn’t even that deep. The v-bit was barely touching the surface of the wood and I could barely hear it cutting.
You know, I get the same type of tearout if I were to tape just painter’s tape directly onto the wood. I’ve tried this in the past and it would do the exact same thing. So anything that you stick to wood would do this IF carved with a v-bit, and I think anyone using any machine would probably get the same result… Maybe there isn’t a way around it and maybe that’s why nobody does it, I don’t know :smirk:

AlanDavis, I’m afraid I can’t replace a v-bit with a downcut for my applications.

With all due respect, PhilJohnson:

  1. In my very first post, I said the following: “I’ve experimented with filling the entire surface with painter’s tape and engraving through that, and although it produces much better results, it’s hardly an ideal solution”

  2. You actually didn’t mention tape in any of your posts above :grinning:

I have a suggestion that is not cheap :slight_smile:

Insert Engraving Bit

It is by Toolstoday or Amana and even tho it seems like a bit of money I am sorry to all that read this a $4 bit off amazon can not compete.

Definitely worth looking into! I was using a $32 3-flute 60 degree bit but I’m sure a bit that cuts through aluminum would kill it.


Have you tried carving just the laminate by itself? I know its not efficient but I’m thinking it might be worth a shot. I’m almost positive the result you are getting is due to the adhesive backing tearing out the mdf during the cut. If it doesn’t work with the laminate you have I think they still make a type with a dry adhesive that needs to be applied with heat for cabinets (Been 15 years since I built cabinets) that might work for you. If that isnt possible maybe try a solid wood under the laminate, just to see if it is indeed the mdf and adhesive combo causing the issue.

But I have to place the laminate onto something, right? Even if it’s the spoilboard (which is MDF). The laminate is about 1 mm thick and already comes with a sticky back (it has a brown film that has to be removed prior to sticking onto the wood). Do you mean cutting the laminate prior to removing this film?
But you’re right, I should try a different type of wood. Maybe it’s the laminate/glue/MDF combo causing the problem. Thank you!

And thanks for the input on the $1 bits, Phil. Are those from China?

Yes. I am wondering if you cut the laminate before sticking the adhesive to anything if it will make an improvement.

Well, if tape doesn’t help and it’s a new bit I’m kinda at a loss myself. I never get that amount of tearout with v-bits but I’ve never done an adhesive backed veneer. It sounds like you’re using a decent bit, too. I’m a big fan of my 30 degree single flute onsurd, but my 60 and 90 from other brands aren’t too bad either. I wonder if someone makes a shearing vbit, that would potentially help reduce tearout due to the angle of the carbide edge.

The only thing I could thing to try other than changing bits or speeds would be maybe experimenting with applying a film-forming finish like a polyurethane, varnish or tung oil and let it cure before cutting, the finish would fill the grain and maybe hold it in place better while cutting. The 2 downsides of this are that you may not want to put this type of finish on and that it can take quite some time for it to cure enough (the general fishes poly I like to use takes 21 days to fully cure, but could probably be machined after a day or two with thin coats)

I wasn’t pay attention before. Floor laminate MDF is a Worst MDF you can find. Looser than naked MDF.
You can prevent a little by going slower and raising RPM to 4.5. Or do one more pass with .01" deeper.
Best idea is never use floor laminated MDF base material for anything. I was failing like this at the beginning, because Home Depot having free samples I was trying to do fridge door signs ETC.
Solid wood Laminated floor material is good choice.

Run the carve twice. I know this works for cleaning up the "fuzzes’ on regular wood carves.

Maybe reduce the max depth of cut on the bit so it does it in a couple of passes. Shallower cuts might mean less tear out.

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I’m not sure what floor laminate MDF is. I’m just using regular MDF and on top of that I’m sticking a sheet of something sticky. I have no idea if it’s laminate or not. There was just a pile of them at one of those cheap overstock places and they had no name. It’s very flexible and about 0.5mm thick and I stick it onto regular MDF. It’s not veneer. It feels like laminate but very thin.

Really? Have you tried carving through this stuff with a CNC and got good results?

It might work but unfortunately defeats the purpose of using the laminate, which was solely to save time and give it the look of finished wood. And I don’t think it would actually soak into it as it’s not really wood and has no pores. But thanks for the suggestion. I may try it just to see if it works!

Thanks for that. I have a Dewalt 611 so I can only use 1/4". Although I tried a couple 1/4" to 1/8" couplers but they didn’t seem to work! I think the bits I bought from China were probably too small. I have like 10 brand new ones just sitting there collecting sawdust.

I might give it a try, but the laminate is still sticking to the paper film that it came with so it’s always going to be stuck to something. But it might be better than sticking it directly onto the mdf and the thin paper film will act as a barrier, who knows… I might use a spray adhesive to stick it onto something (keeping the paper film in place).

I’ll give this a try. I know Phil also proposed this idea… Thanks.

Yes I used hardwood flooring for under mailbox signs, wall decorations, children room toys and toy chests etc. looks fantastic.

I am SO going to buy this it’s not even funny. Thank you.

Awesome! Maybe I’ll give this a try. Would you be so kind as to perhaps provide a link to this stuff, maybe in a big box store or something? Just so I can get an idea.

Also you can check engineered hardwood flooring section.

I think the problem is that the “laminate” material is a self adhesive vinyl that will only cut successfully with a knife as normally used on a vinyl sign machine. I think that almost any rotary cutter will cause "pickup"and furry edges.

You’re absolutely right. I’m sure that’s the problem as well. I’ve noticed that the tip of the bit gets all gummed with the glue.