We like to think about solid surface seams as being invisible. Using the correct adhesive for the color solid surface makes this easy to do! We also recommend putting the two pieces to be seamed together to check the fit – before you glue them.
The following reviews several ways that you can prep your seam. Again, just make sure to check the fit before gluing the pieces together. At our shop, if a seam shows after gluing, we rip it apart and redo it.
– Panel Saw – Your saw must be in perfect running condition with a very good solid surface cutting blade. The one thing to watch for is – bowing in the sheets after you rip them. The sheets can have stress in them so check to make sure they stay straight.
– Mirror Cut – Using a router, space the two pieces being seamed about 3/8″ apart and rout with a 1/2″ bit through the two pieces. If you are seaming a top that is 48″ wide and 120″ long, you’ll require a Seam Jig.
– Wavy Cut – Use a router with a Wavy Base and Wavy Bit. This requires a dedicated router with the special Wavy Base (which has a step in it). You also need a Straight Edge to ride the base against. Rout one side of the seam with the low (thin) side of the base and the other side of the seam with the high (thick) side. This wavy seam allows more gluing surface and helps align the face of the seamed pieces. A seam strap must be placed under the two pieces being seamed. One trick we’ve learned over the years is to saw a relief of about 1/32″ in one side of the strip. Often times the thickness of the material will vary a little and you want the face of the seam flush. Fill the gap on the seam block with plenty of glue to get full glue coverage.
– CNC Router Cut – For in-shop seams, we use a 3/8″ 3-flute bit to insure a nice smooth cut. Field seams will have to be re-routed after the edge is glued on. When we cut out our top and build-up strips, we use a special 1/4″ bit that runs at 24,000 rpm and 1,000 ipm.
There are also a variety of ways to pull your seam together:
– Small pieces of wood. Hot melt glue a small piece of wood to each side of the seam and then use a spring clamp to pull the seam tight.
– Power Grips – Similar to the suction cups used in the glass industry to lift glass, they have been modified with a bracket and turnbuckle. The turnbuckle quickly and easily pulls the seam together. Make sure your material and cups are free from dust!
– Rigid Seaming Cups – These are rectangular pieces of UHMW with gaskets underneath that are hooked to a vacuum air supply. This type of clamping device also helps to get the deck side of your seam flush.
– Vertical Seaming Table – For in-shop seams, you can use this type of A-frame to pull your in-shop seams together. Two tops that are 60″ x 144″ would only require floor space of 48″ x 144″. Seaming the typical method on horizontal tables would require at least 168″ x 144″. Vertical seaming takes a lot less floor space!