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Laminate countertops are economical, they look great, and they’re easier to work with than granite or Corian. It’s no wonder many DIYers have been turning to them for redoing their countertops.
With this guide, you’ll learn how to cut a laminate countertop with a circular saw so you can get a professional look from home.
- Why Should You Use a Circular Saw
- How to Choose the Right Blade
- How to Cut a Laminate Countertop with a Circular Saw
- Finishing the Edges
Why Should You Use a Circular Saw
Circular saws are one power tool that every DIYer and woodworker should have handy. They’re the all-around tool that can do just about everything.
With laminate countertops specifically, they’re great for their ease of use, accuracy of cutting, and the ability to reduce chipping. But when would you want to reach for something else?
How to Choose the Right Blade
Laminate can be a tricky material to work with if you’re not careful – the veneer is highly prone to chipping when cut.
As for how to cut a laminate countertop with a circular saw without chipping, your blade is going to make a huge difference. Here are the things you should look for in a blade:
- Teeth with carbide tips
- A high tooth count
- A negative hook angle
- A thin kerf
- Hollow ground teeth
Tungsten carbide is stronger than steel and harder – which makes it the go-to for cutting materials with a tendency for chipping. As an added bonus, it also lasts longer before dulling.
Similarly, the more teeth your blade has the smoother your cut is going to turn out. Try to get a blade with at least 80 teeth. Your saw will also cut slower, which isn’t a bad thing because you’ll have more control over the cut.
The hook angle is the degree to which the teeth point forwards or backwards. A negative angle will also slow down your cut, while a more positive angle will speed it up. You can also find blades with a neutral angle.
The kerf refers to how wide the blade’s teeth are – and how much of your countertop material is lost with each cut. While it won’t affect the quality of your cut, a thinner kerf means less waste.
While other blades have teeth that make a 90 degree angle, hollow ground teeth have a concave edge that makes for a sharper and cleaner cut. Most blades designed for melamine and laminate veneers will have hollow ground teeth.
How to Cut a Laminate Countertop with a Circular Saw
You have the perfect blade, and now it’s time to get cutting. Here are the steps to follow and things you’re going to need:
- Tape measure
- Framing square
- Sawhorses or workbench
- Painter’s tape
Step 1: Measure and Draw the Cut Line
Use your tape measure and framing square to measure and draw out your cut line on the bottom side of the countertop.
Step 2: Tape Over the Cut Line and Draw it Again
Your blade is going to do its part to prevent the laminate veneer and the particle board underneath from chipping, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help it out.
Once you have your cut line, take the painter’s tape and go over it so that there’s a good margin on either side, then draw the line back over top. Tape over the laminate veneer on the other side where your saw will be going through as well.
Step 3: Clamp Down the Countertop and Put on your Safety Gear
You want to make sure your countertop is secured in place when you go to cut so that there’s no movement. You also want the laminate veneer facing down.
Your circular saw’s blade rotates clockwise, which means the teeth will enter the countertop from the bottom and exit through the top. The top side, therefore, is going to be much more prone to chipping, so you want your laminate on the bottom.
Also, make sure you put on your eye protection, ear plugs, face mask, and gloves before you start cutting.
Step 4: Make the Cuts
When cutting the countertop’s width you’ll want to get the measurement exactly right because it will be final, but for the length you can experiment with how much (if any) you want hanging over the side.
To make the cuts, set the saw blade so that it’s ¼ of an inch deeper than your countertop. Then turn on the circular saw and let it come up to speed before you start cutting.
You can use a circular saw guide to help make it cut straighter or you can skip it, but either way you’ll want to push steadily without forcing the saw through.
When cutting to length, you’ll also need to cut through the integrated backsplash if you’re working with a post-form piece. You can either set your saw’s depth to accommodate the backsplash and cut it all at once, or you can do it in a separate cut.
Making Cutouts in Laminate Countertops
Depending on your project, there may be a sink or another obstacle you need to create a cutout around in your countertop. This is when you’re going to want to reach for your jigsaw.
While you can potentially make plunge cuts with your circular saw for straight cutout lines, you’re going to have a much easier time with a jigsaw.
Cutting Laminate Sheets
If you’re replacing a laminate veneer you’ll probably need to cut the sheet down to size. In this case, all you need is a utility knife.
A circular saw would be overkill for this cut, and you’re risking chipping unnecessarily. Instead, score both sides of your cut line with the utility knife, then snap the sheeting to break the pieces free.
Finishing the Edges
Once your countertop is cut to size, you’ll likely have an edge or two with the exposed particle board facing out. Fortunately there are multiple different ways you can finish the edges.
One of the most popular solutions is edgebanding. This is a thin strip of material with the same coloration as your countertop that irons right onto the particle board.
For the post-from countertops, you can also get finishing pieces that match the backsplash as well as the countertop.
In conclusion, you now know how to cut a laminate countertop with a circular saw. Use the right blade and take precautions against chipping, and then finish off the edges once you’re done.