Solid-surface materials like Corian are popular choices for countertops and other surfaces in kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas of homes and commercial spaces. Though durable, solid surfaces can be cut and fabricated much like wood. With some simple woodworking tools and proper precautions, DIYers can cut and install solid-surface materials on their own.
Solid-surface materials provide a seamless, smooth, non-porous surface perfect for countertops, tub surrounds, vanities, and more. Made of acrylic, polyester, or epoxy resins mixed with minerals and pigments, sheets of solid surface are joined seamlessly with adhesive to create a continuous surface. Though resistant to stains, solid surface can be damaged by sharp objects. But unlike natural stone, solid surface materials can also be repaired and refinished easily. Small scratches can even be sanded and buffed away.
Solid surface sheets also can be cut, routed, and fabricated similarly to natural stone or wood. With care and the proper tools, DIYers can cut and install their own solid-surface countertops and components. This provides an affordable option compared to hiring a professional fabricator. Follow these tips to successfully cut solid-surface materials using simple woodworking tools.
Choose the Right Tools
While solid surface materials are softer than natural stone, cutting and machining solid surface still requires sharp blade edges. Carbide-tipped blades designed for cutting laminates work well for most solid surface jobs. For best results, choose tools designed for fine finish work.
Circular saw: Use a 7-1/4” circular saw with a fine-toothed laminate blade for long straight cuts.
Jigsaw: For curved and shaped cuts, opt for a jigsaw with a fine-toothed scroll blade. Make sure to cut undersize and sand to your line.
Router: Use a laminate trim bit for edge profiles and polished cuts.Flush trim bits also create seams between joined pieces.
Belt sander: For sanding cuts smooth, a 3” x 21” belt sander with 100-grit sandpaper is ideal.
Orbital sander: Finish sanding with 220-grit paper on a 5” random orbital sander.
Hole saw: For sink cutouts and faucet holes, choose carbide grit hole saws. Lubricate the cutting edge to prevent binding.
Drill: Use standard twist bits for drilling starter holes for jigsaw cuts or fastener holes.
Sabre saw: A sabre saw with a fine-tooth woodcutting blade can substitute for a jigsaw for curved cuts.
Table saw: For experienced DIYers, a table saw with a cross cut sled can cut multiple pieces quickly. Use an 80-tooth carbide blade.
Make Straight Cuts
For straight cuts longer than 16”, a circular saw is the best choice. Here are some tips for making smooth, straight cuts:
- Use a straight factory edge or make a straight-cut jig as a guide. Clamp securely.
- Set blade depth to no more than 1/8” deeper than material thickness.
- Mark cut lines with masking tape or permanent marker.
- Make multiple light passes rather than one deep cut.
- For long cuts, start at one end and work backwards to prevent binding.
- Support both sides of cut to prevent cracking or chipping.
- Roll the saw as you cut; don’t drag the blade sideways.
- Sand cut edges smooth with 100-grit sandpaper.
Cut Outs and Shapes
For curved cuts, rounded corners, sink cutouts, and other shapes, use a jigsaw with a fine-tooth laminate blade. Here are some tips:
- Drill starter holes inside corners to start cuts. This prevents cracking.
- Cut undersize, leaving 1/8” to sand to finished size.
- Use a backing board beneath the cut to minimize chipout.
- Move the saw slowly and steadily following your marked line.
- Use a saber saw and finer blade if you need tighter curved cuts.
- Fill in the radius of inside curves with a belt sander and soft backer pad.
- Sand edges smooth with 100-grit sandpaper.
Create Edge Profiles
A router and flush trim bit can shape and polish the edges of solid-surface pieces. Here’s how:
- Use a straight bit for rounded over or beveled edges.
- For ogee, chamfer, or other profiles, use a bearing guided router bit.
- Make pass cuts incrementally to the full depth to prevent chipping.
- Keep the router base flat and stay perpendicular to the edge.
- For flush seams, use a flush trim bit with a bearing and sweep smoothly.
- Finish edges by sanding up to 220-grit.
Solid surface materials can crack around drilled holes unless you take precautions:
- Drill stop holes 1/8” to 1/4” deep with a standard twist bit before drilling through.
- Use carbide grit hole saws for sink cutouts and faucet holes. Lubricate the saw.
- For edge holes, drill stop holes then drill from the other side to meet in the middle.
- For holes larger than 1”, drill a perimeter of smaller holes then intersect the holes with a jigsaw.
- Place masking tape over holes before cutting to prevent chipping.
- Deburr holes carefully with a file or sandpaper.
Solid-surface materials contain acrylic resins that can irritate eyes and skin, and sanding produces fine dust. Here are some safety tips when cutting and machining:
- Always wear eye protection and a dust mask or respirator.
- Use a dust collection system when possible.
- Work in a well-ventilated area and change clothes after cutting to avoid irritation.
- Wear gloves to protect skin and change clothes after cutting.
- Clean up dust and debris thoroughly after each operation.
- Follow all manufacturer safety recommendations.
With the right tools and techniques, solid-surface materials can be cut and installed by DIYers. By taking precautions for safety and following these tips, you can achieve professional-looking results cutting solid surface at home. Be sure to sand cut edges smooth and seam pieces tightly for a flawless countertop or other installation that looks like it was professionally fabricated.
Frequently Asked Questions about Cutting Solid Surface Materials
Can I cut solid surface with a circular saw?
Yes, a circular saw with a fine-toothed carbide blade designed for laminates can make straight cuts in solid surface materials. Make sure to use a straightedge guide and cut shallow multiple passes.
What blade do I need to cut solid surface materials?
Use carbide-tipped blades designed for cutting laminates and melamine. A 60-80 tooth carbide circular saw blade or fine-toothed jigsaw blades work well.
How do you cut holes in solid surface countertops?
Use carbide-grit hole saw bits suitable for laminates. Drill stop-holes first before cutting through to prevent cracking around holes. For larger openings, make a series of drill holes then intersect them with a jigsaw.
What is the best saw to cut solid surface?
For curved cuts a jigsaw with a fine-tooth scroll blade is ideal. For straight cuts, a circular saw with a 60-80 tooth carbide blade makes smooth cuts. A table saw can also make straight cuts if you use a crosscut sled.
How do you cut solid surface edging?
Use a laminate trim bit in a router to shape and polish the edges of solid surface materials. Make shallow, incremental passes until reaching the desired depth.
Can you cut Corian with a table saw?
Yes, a table saw with a crosscut sled can cut Corian and other solid surface materials cleanly and accurately. Use an 80-tooth carbide finishing blade and make several light passes to cut through the material. Always support the cutoff side.
How do you cut thick Corian?
For Corian thicker than 1/2″, use a circular saw or jigsaw with a carbide grit blade made for cutting laminates and melamine. Take several shallow passes to cut slowly through the material’s thickness. Support the cutoff side fully and sand edges smooth.
Solid-surface materials offer DIYers an attractive and practical option for countertops, tub/shower surrounds, cabinetry, and other areas. With some simple woodworking tools like a circular saw, jigsaw, and router, you can cut and fabricate solid surface pieces at home. Pay attention to blade selection, proper cutting technique, and safety precautions when working with solid surface materials. Sand edges smooth, make tight seams, and your finished installation will have a professionally fabricated appearance at a fraction of the cost. With some practice cutting solid surface, you can take on nearly any custom fabrication project.