How to Cut Solid Surface
May 18, 2023 5 min read
How to Cut Solid Surface
Circular Saw: Minimum 40 tooth carbide triple chip blade with 0 degree or positive hook angle
Router: 1/2" shank double fluted router bit
Work on a surface (saw horse, workbench or otherwise) that is level. Ensure your cut depth extends ¼” below the solid surface sheet to guarantee a clean and consistent cut.
Cutting Solid Surface with a Straight Edge
1. Mark the cut that needs to be made. Measure on either side of your material and use a straight edge to draw your cut line across the sheet.
2. Use your circular saw to make a rough cut at least 1/8” to the outside of your cut line. This rough cut does not need to be perfectly straight as you will clean and straighten your cut with a router in the next step. Because of rough saw marks and the potential for micro-fractures, it is never recommended to leave a circular saw cut as your final edge cut even if the edge will not be visible upon installation.
3. On your router, measure the distance from the router bit to the outside of the router base. This measurement is your "cut offset" and is required to locate your straight edge.
Note: If you have a template guide (sometimes also called a router collar) this step is a bit different.
4. Use your "cut offset" to locate and clamp your straight edge the appropriate distance away from your cut line. Take care to measure both ends of your sheet to ensure your straight edge is clamped straight across the material. At this point, you should be able to set your router on top of the material pressed against your straight edge so that the router bit lines up with your cut line.
Selecting your straight edge: Make sure your straight edge is at least as long as the cut you are going to make. Your straight edge needs to be thick enough that you can run your router base against it without slipping onto it. It also needs to be perfectly straight. Your cut will only be as accurate as your straight edge!
5. Make your cut. Be sure to maintain a slow and consistent pace while routing. Take care to hold your router tight to your straight edge all the way through the end of your cut.
You should now have a straight clean cut that can be seamed!
Alternative Method: Mirror Cut
An alternative method for cutting solid surface (specifically for cutting sides that will be seamed together) is to use the mirror cut method. The basic principle is to place the two pieces you intend to seam 3/8" apart. You then make one cut with a router down the middle routing both edges at the same time. This guarantees that regardless of how accurate or straight your cut is, the two pieces will press together perfectly.
This method used to be very popular, but has slowly been phased out given the availability and accuracy of straight edges. With that said, mirror cutting is still an acceptable practice.