Cutting Holes in Laminate

May 1, 2013

Last month I talked about drilling holes in Corian countertops. There are probably more sets of studio furniture out there with laminate tops though, so let's talk about drilling holes in those.

I put the following question to Rod Graham of Graham Studios. What's the best way to cut holes in laminate furniture?

Forstner bits

Forstner bits

"Most often we see the use of a Forstner Bit when precision is required. While these bits are primarily used in a drill press, with a little practice, they can be used in a hand held drill. They are similar to other drills in that they have a center point to help start the hole. The outer rim however, is the guide to ensuring that holes greater than 2" in diameter, are perpendicular to the surface. While Forstner bits are more expensive than center point drills, they create cleaner and larger holes than the center point drill. A less expensive hole saw/arbor can be substituted for the Forstner bit. Buy two or more saws as they will get dull half way through the first hole."

What about larger holes, though, like one that would be beneath an equipment turret?

"The use of a router and template is the best way to cut holes in laminate (HPL) table tops. The template is clamped to the surface to prevent movement, and the router is then used to plunge through the top. This method is usually used in professional mill work environments where dust collection systems are used. Rectangles can also be cut with a jig saw, a steady hand, and 1/4" holes at the corners. Use 2" wide masking tape to prevent chipping of the laminate, as well as scratches from the base plate of the jig saw. Some black paint will dress up the non-standard hole."

Irwin is RF engineer/project manager for Clear Channel Los Angeles. Contact him at