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New skillset

It’s amazing how you can go decades without doing something, and then suddenly find yourself doing it all the time.

Until two years ago I’d never used plastic laminate. Not sure how, since laminating countertops is such a staple of cabinetry, but I somehow did. Then when I was setting up my new shop I needed a large assembly table, which I opted to laminate. Even though it was a first-time experience, it came out terrific.

A few weeks later I laminated a 12’ countertop under my shop cabinets. Same basic process but also entirely different: That assembly table was a 4’ x 7’ rectangle with access on all sides, while that countertop was a long, narrow rectangle bounded by a wall on three sides. Again, a new process for me, but it came out well.

A year later I built my miter saw station and opted to install matching laminate tops. I was getting pretty good at this and I bragged loudly to that effect. I shouldn’t have. When my sister-in-law needed a new tabletop at her beach house, my proficiency with laminate meant I got the job whether I wanted it or not. (Spoiler alert: I didn’t.) Still, my wife and I enjoyed a week at the beach and doing the table actually turned out to be a lot of fun.

Then, just a couple months ago, I completed my lathe/sanding room with a multi-level sanding station for my disc and spindle sanders using matching laminate to do the tops. By now I’m not only getting good at it, but actively enjoying the process.

And finally just last week I surprised my wife by creating a small stained-glass studio for her. This involved closing off one end of the large storage room I’d made when we first moved here, finishing it with drywall, wiring in some task lighting and making a built-in work station with a set of cabinets and shelves. For the countertops I once again pulled out my laminating gear and got to work.

So, I spend maybe four decades of woodworking without once even thinking about laminate work, and in the last two years I’ve done major projects using it – so far – six times. I’m pleased to have added this to my skillset, but regretful I didn’t do so much sooner.

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