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Help needed in restoring a Herman Miller Surfboard Table

- 10 Dec 2012 -
13 posts / 0 new

I bought an early eames surboard table with a white laminated top. Unfortunately because of the transport the top was damaged. Does anybody know: is it possible to repair/restore a laminated table to? Can anybody recommend a contact who restores?

Thanks in advance for all comments.


- 10 Dec 2012

picture please
Post a picture of the damage, is it a scratch, chip, gouge, the damage just to the laminate or to the plywood too?

- 10 Dec 2012

What a shame
for a table top to survive all these years, and then be damaged with careless crating or shipping, in 2012.

Plastic laminate is notoriously resistant to repair. In most cases, the top surface must be sacrificed -- removed, and replaced with new P-lam. And getting old contact cement -- or rigid glue -- to release is difficult. In terms of repair, P-lam could be compared to ceramic or glass: when you break or chip it, it's toast.

Freshly-applied contact cement is usually easy to dissolve. And rigid glues (aliphatic resin, for instance) can be destroyed -- right through the plastic -- with a heat bar.

- 11 Dec 2012

ref. what a shame
Thanks for your detailed explanation. Yes this is really a big shit because basically this table was in an excellent condition. This is the reason why I won?t easily give up. Thanks again.

- 11 Dec 2012

I'd like to
see a photo before completing my comments. But as a cabinetmaker with too many years of working with all materials, including lots of P-lam, I would want to start over, using the present top as a pattern to make a new laminated top. Getting the appropriate laminate (color and gloss) would adequately respect the designer and maker of this original table. The reason I'd start with new material is that it would be far less trouble (and expense) than removing the old laminate, repairing the plywood as necessary, preparing for and completing the re-lamination process.

Any 3/4" slab which is laminated or veneered must have some form of the same veneer or laminate on the reverse of the panel -- to prevent warping. You will find something like backer sheet (a non-aesthetic laminate) on the underside of your top. Removing the existing top laminate -- assuming this can be done at all -- will temporarily unbalance the plywood, and replacing the top laminate won't remove any warping that might occur while the panel is unbalanced.

Only you can say whether keeping as much original "fabric" of the table as possible will retain much of the antique value of the piece. I'd say, once the laminate was damaged, that value is already greatly diminished -- in part bacause of the difficulty of making a minor repair that will be invisible.

- 26 Dec 2012

replace Formica top
The only fix for the table is to replace the Formica laminate. Find a kitchen counter shop in your area and have them plane off or sand off the original Formica and then replace it with a new piece of smooth, flat white Formica. I've replace the tops on Noguchi Cyclone tables like this and they have come out really nice. Good luck

- 26 Dec 2012

That's a shame.
The top is toast. Not just the Formica, but the plywood too. I'd like to see a photo of the edge showing the wood -- but the photo suggests that the plywood has been bent and/or crushed. It took considerable force to make this happen. The 20-degree back-bevel of the edge probably contributed to the vulnerability.

No, laminate isn't sanded or planed off -- though I suppose a planer would accomplish it, with possible damage to the knives, clogged exhaust port, etc. The glue has to be destroyed, with heat or solvents.

I'd have a local shop make a new top, using the original one as a template. Or, you could have them remove a sliver of the damaged top, making a new elliptical shape and re-beveling the edge. If done carefully enough, it wouldn't show -- much.

- 27 Dec 2012

planer and sander worked best
My cabinet guy ran my tops through a planer and then sanded then to remove the old Formica on my 36" diameter Knoll tops. He tried to use solvents and a flat edge scraper to remove just the old Formica but he ended up causing damage to the plywood substrate and destroyed one top. Yes, when he sanded them he gummed up the sanding belt but it really was the only way to efficiently remove the old Formica. If your plywood edge is destroyed you may just want the cabinet guy to reproduce the top by using your old one as a template. Be sure to match the number of plys and the edge detail of the original.

- 27 Dec 2012

Thanks, nico.
It's good to hear of your experience. I've used and cared for a wide-belt sander in a couple of shops but never saw it used for removing p-lam. I guess with a sufficiently coarse belt . . . ? It's good to know that's possible.

Yes, a new top seems in order. Apple-ply is the name of one multi-ply panel that might be appropriate. Perhaps, with the right materials and techniques, the OP might have a new business opportunity on his hands ?

- 27 Dec 2012

Was this table
originally available with a multi-colored geometric top design ? I seem to remember one in a neighbor's house when I was a kid . . .

- 28 Dec 2012

Thanks to all
Thank you for your help and the very detailed explanations.

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