Clean Cuts in a Countertop
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?
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
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
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.