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Q & A: Clean Cuts in a Countertop

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Clean Cuts in a Countertop

 

Q:

I have a plastic laminate countertop that’s about 12 in. too long. I know that plastic laminate tends to chip when cut. How can I trim the countertop to size without creating unsightly chips or splinters?



A:

If not cut properly, plastic laminate will chip. Here’s how to cut your countertop cleanly: To remove the bulk of the material, turn the countertop upside down and rough cut with a circular saw, 1/8 to 1/4 in. longer than your final length. To minimize chipping be sure to use a sharp, carbide-tipped, finish-cutting blade.

For a chip-free cleanup cut, a router with a straight flute cutter works well. To guide the router, clamp a straightedge across the countertop, parallel to the cut line. It’s best to rout from the Q A underside of the countertop to avoid scratching the laminate. Most countertops have built-up front edges, so you’ll need to build up the underside with some scrap wood. Next, clamp your straightedge to the countertop, and use it to guide your router. If there is an attached backsplash, cut it the same way. Even with a router, you need to watch for chipping at the front edge of the countertop. You may need to pre-score the front edge of the laminate with a sharp utility knife as an added precaution.




This story originally appeared in American Woodworker April 1999, issue #72.

April 1999, issue #72

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