How to Cut a Laminate Countertop for a Sink
Old-school carpenter Andy Engel shares some tips on laying out and cutting a ready-made laminate countertop for a sink.
When you’re building or remodeling a kitchen, you can save time and money by using a ready-made laminate countertop. These tops, which generally have an integral backsplash and wraparound front edge, are durable and easy to find at home centers and lumberyards. Even if you have a laminate top custom-fabricated or you make it yourself, you can still use the sink-cutting methods described here.
Many sinks come with a layout template that makes marking the cut easy; you just trace the template with a pencil and cut out the hole with a jigsaw. If you don’t have a template, trace around the sink rim with a pencil, and then adjust the line inward to get the proper fit. On dark tops like this one, I make the layout marks on light-colored masking tape so they’re easier to see.
I cut most of the opening with a jigsaw equipped with a laminate-cutting blade. These blades cut on the downstroke to prevent chipping. If the countertop has an integral backsplash, there’s usually not enough room for a jigsaw when making the rear cut (adjacent to the backsplash). I make this cut with an oscillating multitool.
After making the rear cut, I attach a cleat to the cutout with a single screw. The cleat supports the cutout in place to prevent the countertop from breaking as the cut is finished. I use one screw so I can rotate the cleat out of the blade’s path while cutting.
To make less mess, you might be tempted to cut the top outdoors or in your shop and then move the prepared top to the sink base. I generally don’t do this because with a large hole in the center, it’s very easy to break the countertop while moving it.
Make the cut
To prevent damaging the laminate countertop, use a reverse-cutting jigsaw blade. These blades have teeth that cut on the downstroke instead of the upstroke. Go slowly, and apply steady downward pressure so that the saw doesn’t bounce while cutting.
There’s often not enough room to fit a jigsaw between the back of the sink and the backsplash. In these instances, use a fine-tooth blade in an oscillating multitool. Make the cut in several passes so you don’t overheat the blade, which slows cutting and dulls the teeth.
Bosch laminate cutting jigsaw blade T101 BR ($9, pack of 5)
DeWalt DWA 4210 multitool blade $20
Photos: Patrick McCombe, except product photos by Dan Thornton