Owing to its affordable cost, heat resistance, ease of cleaning, waterproof properties, and relative ease of installation, Formica is one of the most popular countertop materials. Formica is made of several layers of special paper impregnated with phenolic resins and heated under pressure. This makes formica products both soft and hard, with an approximate thickness of 1–2 inches.
Learning how to cut formica can save you time and money. It can also help you customize your home area effectively.
Formica is different from wood materials as it consists of high-pressure laminate with melamine resin. The material has a high heat tolerance. Therefore, it requires special tools to cut.
The biggest challenge associated with cutting Formica is its tendency to chip. Using a dull saw/blade, or cutting Formica without adequately supporting it can make the material chip gravely like a tile. The result of this would be an ugly, ragged edge on the top layer.
The solution lies in the tools you use to cut Formica, and the exact process you use to cut it. The good news is, you don’t have to blow your budget buying fancy tools with good tech to cut your Formica properly.
A jigsaw, one of the most cost-friendly options today, is an electric handheld tool that can help you produce a smooth and clean finish on Formica.
Jigsaws are equipped with fine-toothed blades for making precise cuts. This works well cutting Formica. The tool has an even metal plate which sits on the material to be cut. The thin blade moves up and down once the trigger is pulled, meaning that you can cut in a curved or straight motion.
To cut Formica with a jigsaw, you will need to take adequate measures. By doing so, the decorative laminate layer is not damaged as you make curves on the supporting material underneath.
Cutting Formica to size is all about taking proper measurements and following through with the right jigsaw blade. From our experience, we recommend you use a top-ranking quality jigsaw.
Here are the jigsaw blade considerations to keep in mind:
Tip: If you are new to cutting laminates or unfamiliar with the jigsaw or blade you are using, it is a good idea to do some practice of cutting first. You can practice this on a scrap Formica/laminate piece, or on the old countertops you are looking to replace. You can also try out on the countertop’s waste side before doing the final cut.
Cutting angles on Formica is closely similar to cutting straight lines. All you need to do is adjust the line and work on finding your desired angle.
If you are cutting freehand, take your time and ensure that the cut is as straight as possible. You want the two pieces to look professionally done and clean when combined.
To make the cut straighter and the process smoother, you can also use a straightedge.
Cutting into the interior of a Formica countertop is best done by starting the cut with starter holes.
Tip: Using a small piece of wood with one screw in the center of a cutout to span and hang over a bit of every side will keep your cutout from falling after completing the cut. A screw in the middle would also make the brace to pivot so that you can move it around the jigsaw as needed.
The jigsaw is by far one of the most convenient and cost-effective tools for cutting Formica. There is a myriad of other options you can employ to cut and customize Formica as well. These include:
Used with a 40-toothed carbide blade, the circular saw works efficiently at cutting Formica. A circular saw is good for making longer cuts. It iis not ideal for smaller and detailed laminate cuts.
You can use the circular saw by pushing Formica to the piece you are cutting. However, be careful as this could chip the material.
Another way of cutting Formica with a circular saw is reverse cutting. That means cutting the material by pulling the saw into that piece, and cutting from the back end of your blade.
This is not an easy technique and should not be tried by anyone who is a beginner to woodworking or adequately practiced.
A handheld electric tool, the router, sits flat on the Formica piece to be cut. Routers have bits that can be locked into the center of the machine. Once the machine is on, the bit spins speedily in a circle and cuts the material.
You can buy a bit for the router that is precisely made for cutting Formica. Routers are meant to round off the edges of Formica or similar pieces. You can also use a router to carve designs on the piece.
Laminate shears are exceptional tools meant for cutting high-pressure laminates. Laminate shears can cut up to 1/8 inch thick Formica pieces easily without chipping.
The mouth of a laminate shear moves in an up-down direction to cut small laminate pieces. With the tool, you can cut patterns or circles. Laminate shears stand out since one can rotate them at a 360-degree angle.
Formica countertops are plastic laminates. Since all plastic laminates are essentially similar, cutting a Formica material using a utility knife is identical to cutting most laminates.
A utility knife works well when making one or two shorter cuts, but can be too time consuming and inconsistent on larger projects.
Formica products are a blessing to homes all over the world. They improve the aesthetics, value, and function of homes. With the right cutting materials, you can easily cut Formica countertops to blend well with the design of your home and add convenience.
You will also get better results when you apply the right cutting and safety measures. We hope that our Formica cutting tips above will enhance your DIY Formica cutting.
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