Corian is a brand name for DuPont’s solid surfacing material that looks like marble and cuts like wood. Composed of acrylic polymer and alumina trihydrate, this material is mostly used to make countertops. Corian comes in 1/4-, 1/2- and 3/4-inch-thick sheets and more than 100 different colors that are mostly available in the 1/2-inch thickness. Although the process of installing Corian countertops is labor intensive, it can be done with basic woodworking skills and tools.
A variety of saws can be used to cut Corian, including band saws, jigsaws, saber saws and handsaws. Band saws work especially well, producing clean cuts that don’t come together behind the blade the way other plastics do. Use an all-purpose blade designed for woods and soft metals. Carbide tipped blades with a lot of teeth work well. If you’re using a table saw or radial-arm saw, keep the buffed side up. Keep the buffed side down when using a portable cutoff saw. Corian should be fed slowly, but steadily, to prevent chipping.
A number of tools can be used to cut Corian with a lathe. Fillet tools are used to make rounded corners. Slicing tools cut through a sheet of Corian and boring tools are used to make holes. Your tools need to be sharp or the Corian will crack. Carbide cutters are best. Avoid excessive heat to keep your Corian from melting or burning. Dribbling cold water on the Corian will help keep it cool while you're drilling.
Scrapers, gougers, skew chisels and other turning tools can be used to turn Corian, as long as they are sharp. Corian cuts like very hard plastic and will quickly dull your tools. Carbide turning tools don’t need to be sharpened as often, but they aren’t as sharp as sharpened steel tools. Some turners who work with Corian prefer using scrapers because they’re easier to sharpen. One advantage with Corian is that, because it has no grain, its cutting characteristics are the same no matter which direction it’s facing.
A router is the only tool you should use to make cutouts for your sink or stove. It can also be used to make decorative edges. For cutouts, use a 3 horsepower router, along with a 3/8-inch single-flute bit with a carbide tip and a ½-inch shank. For edging, use ½-inch shank decorative router bits with a roller bearing. Router cuts don’t need to be sanded as much as saw cuts. In addition, router cuts have rounded inside corners so they don’t tend to crack as easily.
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