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Cutting solid surface counter top?

Old 12-21-2006, 03:57 PM
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Default Cutting solid surface counter top?

Helped a friend try to replace a new kitchen sink today. The opening is 1/8" too small all the way around. The corner radius needs to 1/8" instead of his old 1 1/8" as well. He has Avonite solid surface. I googled the material and its alot like Corian and was hoping for more pointers. He gave up and put the old one back in until further research. Cutting tips??? BTW both sinks are drop in type. Thanks....Thought I would find more info while searching......Seems like there are trade secrets about working with this stuff...
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Old 12-21-2006, 04:53 PM
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Default Re: Cutting solid surface counter top?

I used carbide router bits to cut Corian. Gave a very smooth edge...also used a skill saw with a diamond blade and a hose to cut granite. You can go online and find many how-tos on the subject.
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Old 12-21-2006, 05:13 PM
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Default RE: Cutting solid surface counter top?

Corian and like materials will cut like butter with carbide tipped tooling, The best results I got was to use a straight edge and a router (3hp but 1 1/2 hp will do) for straight cuts and a template for radius or notched cuts. Always leave your inside corners with a radius to prevent cracking and leave about 3 inches between a cut out such as a sink and seam. Try not to let your buddy give up and good luck
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Old 12-21-2006, 05:22 PM
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Default RE: Cutting solid surface counter top?

I've butchered some cultured marble tops into place with a dry diamond blade on a grinder and a little massaging with an 80 grit belt on a sander.
I would think you could use a belt sander to grow the opening. Mask the top surface and mark a line to sand to. Sand at a right angle as much as possible so that any flaking will be on the bottom side.
As far as the corners go, after masking the surface and marking the new cut out, you should be able to use a drill bit(1/4 " should give you a 1/8 inch radius) to radius each corner, and then get rid of everything thats not supposed to be there.
If you could get a sink cut out(scrape piece) to practice with, it'd help your confidence and technique. You may be able to try drilling a hole in the waste where the corners are going to be opened up.
If the Avonite is similar to Corian it should be pretty easy.
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Old 12-22-2006, 06:37 PM
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Default RE: Cutting solid surface counter top?

jamesbfishin - 12/21/2006 5:13 PM

Corian and like materials will cut like butter with carbide tipped tooling, The best results I got was to use a straight edge and a router (3hp but 1 1/2 hp will do) for straight cuts and a template for radius or notched cuts. Always leave your inside corners with a radius to prevent cracking and leave about 3 inches between a cut out such as a sink and seam. Try not to let your buddy give up and good luck





great advice!!
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Old 12-23-2006, 08:19 AM
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Default Re: Cutting solid surface counter top?

Thanks for the tips....The plan is to use a router w/ a carbide tip. Cut each side one at a time using a straight 1X4 for an edge with clamps. The radius will change after the trimming. Probably not exact 1/8" radius, but close enough. The trouble is the difference between the lip of the new sink and actual hole will only be an inch because of the molded attachment blocks/holes on the bottom lip of the sink. Should be fine. Thanks again....will post back in few days after Christmas. This site ROCKS!
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Old 12-23-2006, 09:40 AM
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Default Re: Cutting solid surface counter top?

Use a level of square for your straight edge and I think you'll be happier. Since this is a drop-in sink, I would be inclined to go with the belt sander or rasp. I didn't read your post very well and missed the drop-in sink part. Scribe a line and grind up to it, the sink will hide the rough-in work. Good luck and Merry Christmas, Frank
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Old 12-23-2006, 10:19 AM
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Default RE: Cutting solid surface counter top?

broncobirdy - 12/21/2006 4:57 PM

The opening is 1/8" too small all the way around. The corner radius needs to 1/8" instead of his old 1 1/8" as well...
Because the counter top is already installed you possibly will have to break out the belt sander, but for the most part the enlargement of the opening will be done with a router and a ˝" shank ˝” radius carbide router bit w/ a bushing on the router, the bushing will follow your template you make. I would not use a radius cutter any smaller then 1/4" because I feel there would not be enough strength in the cutter itself for the material you are cutting. A ˝” radius shouldn’t be a problem since the sink is a drop in.....the lip should easily cover over it!

I don’t know the layout (relationship between the sink and the back splash/ wall) but with the proper router bit installed in the router, does the router base hit the back splash or the wall? I would think probably yes. If so, the edge against the back splash or wall will need to be ground or sanded larger after the router work is done. One could use a grinder if one was competent with the tool in their hand or one could use the belt sander, the belt sander would only take longer in hogging out the excess material.

* If I hit that edge with a grinder I’d probably start with a 120 grit disk and see how quickly it cuts and how quickly the disk loaded up....based off of what I saw/ experienced I would maybe drop the grit down to 80. I would not go lower then 80. KEEP the grinder face circling downwards from the top surface to reduce the chance of spalling.

As far as routing out the opening with the router, I’d make a single template out of plywood. I would make the template with the notion of I would be able to route out all four sides of the opening. Then I would cut the edge of the template which will butt up against the back splash or the wall until the template sat where I liked it. When making your template leave yourself plenty of extra material around your opening so you have material to secure the template to the counter top.

Once the template is of the size you like now you will need to secure it to the counter top. Here I would hit the back of the template (the side mating to the counter top) with tons of two way tape. The two way tape should hold your template in place like a rock, but I would still add a couple of “C” clamps at the two outside corners just to make sure the template stayed in place.

Now that your template is in place, your router is set up with the proper bit, I would double check to make sure your math is correct! Making a another template is cheap compared to the cost of another counter top!

Now that you are ready to route out the opening: when routing you want your cutter to be cutting into your material, in other words you want your cutter’s circular motion to be rotating into the material and not outwards. With the rotation of your cutter going into the material it will give you better control as well it should give you a better finish.

*** Word of advice: you are going to make a LOT of dust so wear a mask!!!! Also seal off the kitchen from the rest of the house the best you can, cover the heat registers (if you have them), shut off the furnace (if you have one), open the window above the sink and place a fan to push the bulk of the dust outside.
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Old 12-23-2006, 10:30 AM
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Default RE: Cutting solid surface counter top?

I have done alot of work on solid surface material Garrett is giving you some very good advise. good luck
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Old 12-23-2006, 11:19 AM
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Default Re: Cutting solid surface counter top?

one option that might not be quite as pretty in practice, but will come out to be just as good in the end is to do your front to back cutout expansion only on the front, and shift the position of the sink foward 1/4". You will be able to easily do the front edge & sides with a router, and then simply massage the rear two corners with a sander or small grinder to get the clearance in the corners if needed.
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Old 12-27-2006, 08:28 AM
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Default Re: Cutting solid surface counter top?

Did it yesterday.....the router cut it like butta! Had to trim a little with a file. Came out very nice. Thanks to all.
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