How to Cut Laminate Countertops

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If you're installing a new appliance in the kitchen or remodeling, you may need to cut off the edge of a laminate countertop or make a hole to drop in a sink. Unlike stone, metal or pure wood, laminate has a thin top coat that can chip off during cutting, revealing the unsightly particle board underneath. To prevent chipping, follow these special precautions.

Things You'll Need

  • Masking tape
  • Circular saw
  • Carbide-tipped, thin-kerf blade (with 50 to 60 teeth)
  • Rip fence saw attachment
  • Belt sander
  • 120-grit sanding belt
  • Jigsaw
  • Fine-Toothed jigsaw blade
  • Pencil
  • Electric hand drill
  • Full set of paddle/spade drill bits
  • Measuring tape

Making a Straight Cut Across the Counter's Edge

  • Place several strips of masking tape over the top of the counter. This will prevent surface scratches as the circular saw pushes along.

  • Load the carbide-tipped, thin-kerf blade into the circular saw.

  • Fasten the rip fence to the saw so that it is perpendicular to the blade. This ensures that the cut follows the edge of the counter exactly.

  • Set the depth of the saw blade so that its deepest point extends about 1/8th of an inch below the surface of the countertop.

  • As you cut, push the saw forward slowly.

  • After removing the edge, hold the belt sander parallel to the side of the countertop. Make sure that the belt is moving down towards the surface; otherwise, there is a risk of pulling up and chipping off the laminate coating.

Cutting a Hole For a Drop-in Sink

  • Using the pencil, trace out where the planned hole will go on the counter surface.

  • If the hole has curved corners, mark where each end of the quarter-circle begins. This will effectively divide the hole into two pairs of parallel lines and four quarter-circle arcs.

  • Measure the location of the hole in relation to the entire surface.

  • Use these measurements to trace the same hole on the underside of the counter.

  • Determine the radius of the quarter-circle arcs. See "Tips" for easy ways to do this.

  • Multiply the radius by two to decide which size paddle/spade drill bit to use. If it is between sizes, round down.

  • Drill a hole into each corner of the laminate surface with the paddle bit to cut the arcs properly.

  • Turn the countertop over and use the jigsaw to cut along the straight lines you drew on earlier. Even though most of the laminate material is wooden, use a jigsaw blade designed for metal, i.e. fine-toothed.

  • If sanding is needed to smooth out imperfect lines, make sure that the belt sander is running down toward the surface.

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