This Week in the Shop: The Library Book Nook

The Library Book NookThis Week in the Shop, I build a library book nook for my school. My school librarian came to me with her coffee bar theme for a renovated library and she wanted a circular book nook to take advantage of a certain space in the library. This book nook had to incorporate a column and reclaimed table top, be made under budget (roughly $500), have a professional look, design and materials.

I looked at her requirements, looked at the space and said…yeah….I can do that.

Follow along as I show you how!

Installing a Laminate Countertop

My toughest challenge was resurfacing an old table top. This table top needed a new, hard surface that wear well and last years and years. Laminate, a composite plastic material with a cloth backing, fits the bill nicely and can be ordered in a variety of colors and shapes from your local home center.

Laminate comes in special order sheets, often 24” or 30” wide, and 96” long – the perfect size for a kitchen countertop. I had a table, so I needed to buy a 48” x 60” sheet. The trick is to very carefully measure your countertop and edging, then develop a cut list, then buy the right material for your work. The half-circle shape of the table top meant we had to purchase an extra sheet in a funky width.

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Laminate cuts very easy with a sharp table saw blade but getting to the blade safetly on a table saw may be tricky. it may be safer to lay the laminate out on a sheet of sacrificial plywood and cut it with a sharp, high-tooth circular saw blade, good face up. I used a featherboard to help keep the laminate straight and flat on the table.

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Prep the substrate for application with a quick cleaning and light sanding. Next, spread contact cement with a roller on both the laminate and substrate. Allow the contact cement to dry, roughly 20 minutes, depending on environmental conditions. Wear a respirator or have great ventilation during this step.Untitled_1.41.1

Carefully place dowels or small sticks on the surface of the substrate. Place the laminate in position on the dowels. Untitled_1.42.1Carefully remove the dowels, starting in the center. Contact cement bonds instantly, so move slow and careful. Untitled_1.43.1Then use a J-roller to push out any air bubbles and help fix the countertop in place.

Untitled_1.45.1Using a small trim router with a flush-cutting bit, trim the edges of the laminate flush with the substrate surface. I did the edges first, then the faces of my tabletop.

Lastly, use sandpaper or a file to clean the edges and remove burrs and sharp corners.

With any luck, this design will last a few student generations. The wood columns are strong and sturdy, and if the table top sags or shifts, larger brackets can always be installed.

Thank you for your continued support.

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