Are you planning on installing a laminate countertop in your kitchen? You buy one but it is a tad bit too big for what you had in mind. You might want to cut it a bit, but chances are if you don’t know how to, you might ruin the factory finish. So in this guide, we will give you a few tricks and tips on the matter.
Laminate is a rather brittle material. It is flexible, with a large enough surface area it flexes very easily. But it is quite brittle when it reaches the point where it can no longer flex anymore. When cutting it with ordinary saws, you might cause it to chip or splinter. When cutting a laminate countertop, the same risks of chipping and splintering are still there.
Using a table saw is the easiest method to cut a laminate countertop. But there are a few things you can do to keep the factory finish on it.
Circular Saw vs Table Saw
There are many people who will use a circular saw in place of a table saw for tasks. Although it is clear that the circular saw has the advantage in portability. But the table saw has the advantage of power and accuracy. Both of these, however, can be used for cutting a laminate countertop. But the best results can be achieved with a table saw.
The table saw is pretty expensive compared to a circular saw. Also, it takes more space and cannot be moved with ease. But the circular saw is affordable, can be bought cordless as well. So it can work without a power outlet till the battery runs out. After which you will be required to pause your work to charge the batteries unless you have spares.
How to Cut Laminate Countertop with a Table Saw
For this job, you will need masking tape and a high teeth count carbide blade. A 102 teeth carbide blade will do just fine for the task. It is because of the carbide blade and the high teeth count that you will get a factory finish. A high teeth count plus the carbide edge cuts very clean avoid any splinters whatsoever. This can be done with a normal table saw blade as well. But it does not provide the desired results.
First up, unplug the table saw. Make sure that the power cord of the table saw is disconnected from any power source. This is because you will first need to replace your normal table saw blade with the carbide one. When handling the blade or maintenance of the saw, always disconnect the cord.
Replace the normal table saw blade with the carbide blade with a high teeth count. The high teeth count on the carbide blade creates a more finished cut.
Apply masking tape where you have to make a cut. This is unnecessary when using a high teeth count carbide blade. But always take precautions to make sure the job goes smoothly. The masking tape is used to avoid the laminate from splintering.
Place the countertop laminate facing up on the table saw. Connect the power cord to an outlet and power it on. Slowly guide the countertop forward letting the blade cut it from the bottom side up.
Guide the countertop all the way to the end. If you are working with a narrow piece, use the pushing sticks to push the narrow end. Once it is cut, you can peel off the tape to check the fine finish of the cut.
With this, you are now ready to install the laminate countertop wherever you want to.
Things to Be Careful of When Cutting a Laminate Countertop with a Table Saw
- A table saw is a very dangerous tool. If you are not familiar with how it works, then simply practice first using pieces of scrap wood. Always use push sticks to stay on the safe side of things when using a table saw. Do not forget to wear protective gear like goggles.
- You can cut a laminate countertop with a normal table saw blade as well. Just you will not get a really fine finish that you should get from a high tooth count carbide blade. You can sand off the end product if you use a normal table saw blade, but the finish is not perfect as compared to when using the other blade.
- If the countertop is too big, you will need to take the fence off the table saw. It will ensure that the whole piece fits and sits flat on the table.
- If you are unsure how to replace a table saw blade, do check a tutorial or use the user’s manual. Do not try to do it without the knowledge of how to do so.
- Always make sure you work with measurements. If by any chance you end up cutting more than you have to, you might end up ruining the piece of wood. In the case of a laminate countertop, it is inexpensive. But it does cost something and ruining the measurements will mean a waste of money.