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Any DIY or contractors to answer countertop cutting query?

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  • Any DIY or contractors to answer countertop cutting query?

    I need to cut off an inch or so of formica countertop. There appears to be pressboard underneath, not solid wood or MDF. We're installing a new fridge in an old house. Has anyone done this and care to offer advice?

    I read where I'll should use a 40 tooth/inch sawblade. I should use masking tape over the area to arrest splitting. Any other sage wisdom?
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  • #2
    I haven't done this before but I have a few recommendations.

    The tape trick helps. Plus it's easier to draw lines on the tape than the formica.

    To cut the counter top you'll going to have to detach it from the cabinets and wall. It's attached to the cabinet with screws underneath. Look in the corners and along the front and back edges. Be careful unscrewing and rescrewing it. The pressboard doesn't hold screws well and it's easy to strip the threads. Use a hand/manual screw driver to rescrew it. If you do strip the threads, use a fatter/thicker but not longer screw. The should be a bead of chalk where the counter top meets the wall. Cut it with a razor. Hopefully the counter top is not glued down to the cabinets.

    I'd recommend a jigsaw over a circular saw. The circular saw is quicker but that means you can screw up quicker. I'm assuming you're not super skilled with either saw? With the jigsaw, turn off the occsolatinng function. Use a high tooth count blade. I'd ask around at the big box stores (Lowes, HomeDepot) and local hardware stores for recommendations. Tell them what you're doing. Remember the jigsaw blades does down and up. The up stroke can chip the formica if you're not careful. Go slow. If this is a post formed counter top, meaning that it has an integrated backsplash (the formica turns up wall, kind of L shaped), it's going to be harder to cut. You might have to do two cuts - flat surface and then the backsplash. You'll probably have to cut the backslash from the back side.

    If you could find an old counter top to practice on, that would be great. Check with the Habitat for Humanity's Restore stores. If you have them in your area. That resell old or surplus home remodel materials.

    You can sand the edge if it comes out uneven. A belt sander will be faster and may give a more even surface. Just remember the belt sander can take off a lot of material quick. The circular sander would be the next quickest. Watch out that the spinning sand paper doesn't want to chip the edge. The random orbital sander will not have this issue. You can hand sand it but that's the slowest method. The cut edge of the formica can be sharp enough to cut you. You can sand or file it a little (I'd do this part by hand).

    The cut edge of the pressboard can absorb water and swell. I'd take the scrape of counter top to Lowes or Homedepot. Get them to match it in a paint test sample. This is small 3 - 5 oz jar. You don't need a quart for this. Prime the edge and put a couple of coats of paint on it. This should be enough of a seal. You could try and match the formica and then apply it to the cut edge. However, this is more work and I'm betting this is a temporary fix. That you'll remodel the kitchen down the road.

    Touch up the paint on the wall if needed. Apply a new bead of chalk where the counter top/backsplash mets the wall and you're done. The chalk will prevent water from getting behind the counter top and swelling it.

    This isn't a 30 minute job. At least for me. I'd allow at least a Saturday afternoon for it.


    • #3
      I did this in my 1st house for the exact same a bigger fridge. I hand to cut down the cabinet on the wall as well. I used a circular saw. I detaced the countertop, turned it over (that way the blade is cutting up & into the wood, which reduces the chance of splintering the formica). Mine worked perfect up untill the last 1/4 inch. I tried to do it by myself & that last bit broke off (get someone to hold it as you finish the cut. Mine had the built in riser/baclsplash or whatever it's called, I made the turn perfectly, but that last bit, that is when it broke). Nobody notices it, but I did (kinda bit of a perfectionist). It was only an 1/8th inch chip, but it's there.