Anything close to Micarta availabe in 48"x96" that is much cheaper?
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  1. #1
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    Default Anything close to Micarta available in 48"x96" that is much cheaper?

    I'm looking for a countertop material for workbenches that have to be about 40" wide and are tied together to form long assy lines for upholstered furniture. Currently using UHMW (1/4" thick) but the bad part is that it warps and scratches and, after it's scratched can damage the upholstery. The warping makes it hard to square-up framework. The material has to be break resistant, reasonably smooth and maintainable to remove dried glue and scratches with a sanding disk on a grinder. Our main option is to go with gauge steel over 3/4" plywood (probably 14 or 12) but some will have to be SS since it can rust in low-use corners which can stain the upholstery. The sections before upholstery are framing and foaming so could use carbon steel for that.

    Just wondering if there's any good laminated material or other thin cover that might work for this. Looked into Micarta but way too expensive. Ideally avaialble in 48 x 96 sheets, better yet is 48 x 120.

    Updates: Maybe should have clarified a few things. First off there is a huge amount of sq footage for all of this, I'm guessing around 1500 total for the assy lines. Next, the guys are working so fast they don't have time to wipe off any dripped-off glue. It hopefully is done whenever it builds up to a point that it's easy to scrape off (if the top material allows it).

    Thanks,
    The Dude
    Last edited by The Dude; 08-04-2021 at 07:56 AM.

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    Have you considered going with a rigid plastic film over whatever convenient table top material works for you? I just bought some .005" polyester film .005" x 40" x 120" for sandblasting window protection, and there's longer lengths (and widths) available too:

    McMaster-Carr

    The actual brand I got was "Dura-Lar" by Grafix, but I'd contact these guys: Polyester PET Film | Clear, Strong BoPET Films | Curbell Plastics to see who distributes their products in a size you can use as a contiguous cover.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Milland View Post
    Have you considered going with a rigid plastic film over whatever convenient table top material works for you? I just bought some .005" polyester film .005" x 40" x 120" for sandblasting window protection, and there's longer lengths (and widths) available too:

    McMaster-Carr

    The actual brand I got was "Dura-Lar" by Grafix, but I'd contact these guys: Polyester PET Film | Clear, Strong BoPET Films | Curbell Plastics to see who distributes their products in a size you can use as a contiguous cover.
    I use plastic sheets on my work bench.

    They are maybe about 1/64 thick and pretty easy to work

    Not sure what I used but I had gotten it for free.

    But I don’t think this meets the requirements of being able to grind glue off of it? Seems like just wipe it when it spilled is my deal

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    Plain plastic laminate over MDF not good enough? Sizes up to 5x12 feet.

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    we did our kitchen a few years ago with this stuff called Richlite, made in Tacoma, its a kind of paper based laminate. It was designed as aerospace tooling material for Boeing. It stay flat, and doesnt warp, you could seal it, or not, you can sand it- its the same all the way through. Richlite another very similar product is Paperstone. Not as solid, as its made from recycled paper, but still would do what you want.
    I have just used formica on MDF, for big tables, for many years, as well. Formica or similar lamintes come in big sheet sizes, and you can random orbit them with a fine grit to get glue off.

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    Thanks guys, I'll check that stuff out, everything looks like it's worth evaluating.

    The Dude

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ianagos View Post
    But I don’t think this meets the requirements of being able to grind glue off of it? Seems like just wipe it when it spilled is my deal
    If that's a requirement then no, it's not right. But if wiping at time of spill works, or the material is cheap enough you can leave a spool at the end and pull a fresh length out as needed then it might be good for your needs.

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    Stacked sheets of formica are an awesom table top over MDFB An aviation cabinet shop I worked at as a young man went three layers (contact cement)

    Some tables wore through in places. but were easily sanded smooth. (not flat though) +/- 1/16th")

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    If you keep an eye on craigslist and bank auctions (bidspotter) there are restaurant prep tables and counters that go for good prices. They are stout*, stainless - not laminated, and do not have sharp edges anywhere.

    *Not weld table stout.

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    A sheet of stainless will cost you, what 400 bucks before you work it or build a table.

    Wonder what unpopular granite slabs cost

    Everything suggested has a limited lifespan

    Stone or faux stone would last forever and clean glue off with a razor

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    Quote Originally Posted by gustafson View Post
    A sheet of stainless will cost you, what 400 bucks before you work it or build a table.

    Wonder what unpopular granite slabs cost

    Everything suggested has a limited lifespan

    Stone or faux stone would last forever and clean glue off with a razor
    We tried a sheet of quartz, cost about $1500. I'm going to get the metals requoted and they were cheaper than that pre-pandemic but I'm sure have gone up.

    The Dude

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    Quote Originally Posted by gustafson View Post
    A sheet of stainless will cost you, what 400 bucks before you work it or build a table.

    Wonder what unpopular granite slabs cost

    Everything suggested has a limited lifespan

    Stone or faux stone would last forever and clean glue off with a razor
    We tried a sheet of quartz, cost about $1500. I'm going to get the metals requoted and they were cheaper than that pre-pandemic but I'm sure have gone up.

    The Dude

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    Why not simple MDF or Masonite over a plywood base ?
    Consider it expendable, and make it quickly replaceable.

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    Being in the industry, you no doubt know that "formica" & similar is micarta sheets with a melamine color coat on one side.
    You probably also know that backer sheets, IOW plain micarta sheets are available cheaper than face/feature sheets from all the laminate suppliers, since tops and such really should have a laminate on both faces.

    MDF faced both sides with backers should give a decent surface, and be reversible to get 2x life.
    If people are physically "hard" on the surfaces, they might not last long (about the same compared with standard laminate of same thickness.) If i was going to stack suface sheets, I'd use layers of backers. But you ought to have a hot press & perhpas melamine glue to really do it right.

    If people are generally not abusive, plain MDF with a sealer & a heavy coat of floor type urethane would probably be about as glue resistant as anything. Glue does stick to formica after the new wears off, and certianly to micarta.

    I kind of like the 1/8" stainless option. But it would be expensive and if the crews include people who try to see if they can damage stuff (hammer dings, etc) , it won't last either.

    smt

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    Quote Originally Posted by digger doug View Post
    Why not simple MDF or Masonite over a plywood base ?
    Consider it expendable, and make it quickly replaceable.
    The problem I see with all the 'soft' options is that he said the surface imperfections will ruin the upholstery.

    I ruined piece

    Downtime while repairing.

    Lack of flatness

    These things, to me, point to the cheap solutions not being cheap

    I was thinking if you called around you might find a ' The boss ordered this stuff ten years ago and nobody likes it, you can have it for $x just make it go away'

    A good deal on stonish surface would be perhaps competitive with a stainless top after fabrication, and literally last forever.

    Now if you could find a roll sheet product tough enough to last one piece of furniture, you could mount the roll on one end of the table, stretch the plastic over the table for every piece. They make stretch wrap that wide, but I was thinking of something tougher. Maybe rosin paper.

    Masonite hardboard over a carefully leveled 3/4 plywood bench might be a useful underlayment for such a system. To hell with cleaning stuff off it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gustafson View Post
    The problem I see with all the 'soft' options is that he said the surface imperfections will ruin the upholstery.

    I ruined piece

    Downtime while repairing.

    Lack of flatness

    These things, to me, point to the cheap solutions not being cheap

    I was thinking if you called around you might find a ' The boss ordered this stuff ten years ago and nobody likes it, you can have it for $x just make it go away'

    A good deal on stonish surface would be perhaps competitive with a stainless top after fabrication, and literally last forever.

    Now if you could find a roll sheet product tough enough to last one piece of furniture, you could mount the roll on one end of the table, stretch the plastic over the table for every piece. They make stretch wrap that wide, but I was thinking of something tougher. Maybe rosin paper.

    Masonite hardboard over a carefully leveled 3/4 plywood bench might be a useful underlayment for such a system. To hell with cleaning stuff off it.
    What exactly is the OP dooing ?

    I've been in (2) shops with large masonite surfaced tables, a hot air balloon shop, and a boat cover place.

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    I think it would be hard to beat the cost/performance of laminate covered MDF. If you need it very sturdy build a structural steel support for under it.

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    Most major laminate suppliers also stock Plam, and many can supply the MDF as well. And many can also supply MDF with Plam on both sides, sizes up to 5x12 feet. Yellow glue, Wilsonart Lockweld *.*.
    Long steel tables with masonite tops are Cutting Tables, used in rag shops. (to layout and cut cloth in thick books). I have such a table in my shop as main odd ball assembly table.5 foot by 12 foot. $50.00 at auction way back when.

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    You might consider King Starbosrd ST. https://www.kingplastic.com/products/king-starboard/ It's a polyethylene board available in 1/2" amd 3/4" thicknesses.Cost is reasonable.
    Rick W

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    And, stock "Formica" (melamine laminate)coutertops, with one-piece formed bullnose edge and backsplash are dirt cheap, and last forever. If you (somehow) irreparably damage a section, pull it out and go to Lowes or HD for a replacement for cheap...


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