How to Cut a Hole in a Countertop for a Kitchen Sink

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Plastic laminate countertops, such as those made with Formica laminate, are in wide use. You can easily cut a hole in the countertop for a sink with a few simple tools. The key to success is accurate positioning and marking of the opening.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil or other marker
  • Drill with bit
  • Straightedge
  • Box cutter
  • Jigsaw
  • Fine-tooth jigsaw blade (down cut or laminate type)
  • Clamps or screws
  • Sandpaper (150 grit)
  • Measure the position of the sink hole and mark it using a pencil or other marker. If your new sink comes with a template, position it on the countertop and use it for marking the hole. Many sinks come with a paper template or have a template printed on the side of the box. Make sure to measure again after you have marked the sink hole to make sure it is properly positioned, is of the correct size, and is not skewed or otherwise mispositioned on the countertop.

  • Score the outline of the sink hole with a straightedge and box cutter. Formica and other plastic laminates are susceptible to chipping and cracking during the cutting process. Scoring reduces the likelihood that the laminate will chip during cutting.

  • Drill a pilot hole for the jigsaw blade so that you can start at one end of the top or bottom of the marked sink hole. A 1-inch spade bit will work well for this, but you can use other sizes and types of drill bits, including twist drills, as long as the hole is large enough to insert the saw blade. Make sure that you do not drill outside the marked area for the sink hole. Be sure that the drill is as vertical as possible, and don't press down hard on the drill.

  • Insert the blade of the jigsaw into the hole. The blade should have fine teeth and should be of the down-cut or laminate blade type. The teeth on down cut blades face downward so that the cutting is done on the down stroke of the saw, which will keep any possible chipping on the underside of the cabinet, and not on the top surface. Keep the saw flat against the workpiece. Start the saw and approach the line marking the cutout at a shallow angle. Don't force the saw; maintain a gentle pressure and let the saw do the work. When you are nearing completion of the third side, stop.

  • Before proceeding further, you need to secure the cutout piece. If you were to continue cutting without securing the center, the countertop could be damaged as you near completion of the cutting. The cutout piece may be held in place by clamps that span the saw line and clamp onto both the countertop and the cutout portion. Use at least two clamps on each side Alternately, wood screws may be screwed into the saw line from the bottom side of the countertop to prevent the cutout piece from dropping out before the cutting is completed.

  • With the cutout portion secured, finish cutting the sink hole in the countertop. When done, remove the clamps or screws, and remove the cutout portion.

  • Sand the inside edge of the laminate with 150-grit sandpaper to remove any sharp edges on the laminate that may otherwise cause painful cuts and scrapes. Avoid sanding the surface of the countertop.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always use sharp blades in the jigsaw to get the smoothest edges. Dull blades are more likely to cause cracking and chipping of the laminate.
  • Wear eye protection and a dust mask. Drilling and sawing the laminate countertop can create hazardous dust particles and can send chips flying. Hearing protection is recommended when using power tools to avoid hearing loss.

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