Cutting countertop

My next assignment at a friend's new-used house is to cut some ready-made Home Depot countertop to correct length, and cut the hole for the sink. I've got some concerns, mostly due to the fact that I've never done this before and it's her money.
The pieces will have a backsplash. Cutting a flat piece of countertop seems easy, if all precautions & preparations are done right. But, continuing the cut to wrap around the backsplash seems dicey. I'll be using a sabre saw and I envision doing the cutting from the bottom, as mentioned in the brochure. I assume it's done this way because the sabre saw blade cuts on the upstroke, so the teeth won't be trying to push the laminate off the underlying board.
What's the trick for the backsplash? Cut from the top edge toward the counter, then cut from the counter's front edge toward the backsplash, and then join the two cuts (while praying)? Maybe finish that cut with a keyhole saw? My friend will be buying the end cap kit mentioned in the brochure, but I don't know yet how much fractional error these kits can cover up, if any.
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You are correct in cutting the counter top from the back side of the counter top. Not knowing what kind of end cap you are going to install makes a difference in the precision that is required in the cut. To make the end as perfect as possible cut a little outside the line (longer than desired) and using a belt sander with a fine grit belt sand down to the line (from the back just like the saw).

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Belt sander. Hmm. Now I'm seeing her paying someone to do this, unless she wants to buy the belt sander and donate it to me afterward. This is a woman who thinks a shoe is a hammer and a butter knife is a screwdriver.

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>> I've pulled and replaced countertop (same piece) several times. This >> time I think I need to replace some. Just going to use some 9/10 ft >> store stock stuff. >> >> Question is in regard to cutting to length. All cuts are 90 degrees. >> Borg does not cut lengths.
Again, thanks to Pat Barber wo posted the link originally.
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I suggest you go buy a used countertop at a recycling center or 2nd hand store and practice on that first.
Also tell "her" you have not done this before and might mess it up . If she wants it "perfect", she should have a professional do it. And if you do mess it up and it needs to be redone, then she will have to pay for it. So decide now what to do.
I've seen these situations many times before. They don't want to pay much or any money to have something done, then when it is not perfect, and I mean PERFECT, there will be endless complaining.
Sometimes it is better to have a pro do some things and let them take the heat when the work is not perfect.
"JoeSpareBedroom" wrote in message

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Actually, I'm the one who wants it perfect, and she's less concerned. I hate doing sloppy work. The more I think about this, the more likely it is I'll be calling my plumber this afternoon to get the name of someone he knows who installs this stuff professionally.
The practice piece is a good idea, though. Thanks.

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I trimmed a tree for a friend with little money, the tree laying on the garage roof was ripping it off. I tarped the garage roof after trimming tree. It was winter.garage roof was leaking
She complained to everyone I killed her tree, just like I said by next summer the tree looked great, you would of never known it had been trimmed.
I got sick of hearing from everyone about kiing the tree. Less likely to help anyone in the future......
people who want stuff done for free shouldnt complain if its not perfect.
incidently 3 years later a neighbor irritated with the overgrown tree chain sawed it off at about 4 feet. its growing back again.
the family ignores everything till its a disaster.........
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wrote:

I trimmed a tree for a friend with little money, the tree laying on the garage roof was ripping it off. I tarped the garage roof after trimming tree. It was winter.garage roof was leaking
She complained to everyone I killed her tree, just like I said by next summer the tree looked great, you would of never known it had been trimmed.
I got sick of hearing from everyone about kiing the tree. Less likely to help anyone in the future......
people who want stuff done for free shouldnt complain if its not perfect.
incidently 3 years later a neighbor irritated with the overgrown tree chain sawed it off at about 4 feet. its growing back again.
the family ignores everything till its a disaster.........
All this just brings to mind the words of the sage: No good deed goes unpunished.
Charlie
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On Wed, 22 Apr 2009 09:56:26 -0400, "JoeSpareBedroom"

Yes, those can be a bit of a pain. It's helpful to make a guide that wraps around the back side to guide the saw. I took a piece of 2x10 on edge, and traced the profile of the back side of the countertop on it. Then I cut away the waste part leaving a guide that fit tightly against the back side. I clamp it to the counter at the appropriate distance. I make the cut in one pass, starting with the backsplash, then rotating the saw from vertical to horizontal to finish the cut, holding the base of the saw against the guide. Cut from the back side as you said.
Couple of tips:
Practice first in the waste area.
Cut the end that will be least visible when installed, if you can.
Make two cuts. First one about 1/2 inch long, second to the mark. That way you don't have a heavy cutoff to mess with when doing the good cut.
Make sure everything is well supported, including the offcut. You don't want the saw binding while you're cutting, and you don't want to have to try to support the offcut with one hand while cutting with the other. (Not an issue when just trimming off a short length) . Use a fine tooth blade to minimize chipout and put masking tape on the cut line first. (on the laminate side)
You can use a fine file to clean up the edge afterward, but don't count on the end cap to hide any significant wiggles in the cut. Always file down against top, not up, or you'll likely lift the laminate or chip it.
If one end goes into a corner, don't assume it will be square (it won't be)
You will probably have to scribe the top edge of the backsplash to get it to fit tightly against the wall. A portable belt sander works well to trim it to the scribed line.
The sink cutout is easier. Just remember to drill holes at all 4 corners first, 1/2 inch diameter or larger. Laminate doesn't like square inside cuts, it will crack later beginning at the sharp corner. Drilling first gives you a radiused corner.
HTH,
Paul F.
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JoeSpareBedroom wrote:

You can also buy sabre saw blades that cut on the downstroke, which could be useful for the sink opening at least. I did a counter with these, following a line drawn on masking tape, which protects the surface. That guide someone else pointed to looks nice though.
Chances are, you will be cutting off an end piece. You can do shorter cuts to practice whatever you decide, before you do the final cut. You will need a pretty clean cut if you are adding the iron-on end pieces.
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Iron-on? Oh no....why does that sound like a cob job?
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on 4/22/2009 1:52 PM (ET) JoeSpareBedroom wrote the following:

It's not. When done properly, the heat activated pre-glued end cap will stay on forever.
--

Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
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wrote:

Because you don't know anything about countertops... The laminate adhesive is heat activated, at least for the edging.
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wrote:

Because you don't know anything about countertops...
========== That's exactly what I've been saying. :-)
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wrote:

I used a circular saw to cut a countertop recently myself, its easier to be straight with the circular saw as opposed to a sabre saw, chalk a line on the back side of the counter, run a practice cut an inch over, and also put a piece of painters tape on the good side of the countertop ( cut thru the tape) its really not that hard. the difficult part is getting the joints to be perfectly flush.
Dave
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wrote:

I used a circular saw to cut a countertop recently myself, its easier to be straight with the circular saw as opposed to a sabre saw, chalk a line on the back side of the counter, run a practice cut an inch over, and also put a piece of painters tape on the good side of the countertop ( cut thru the tape) its really not that hard. the difficult part is getting the joints to be perfectly flush.
Dave
================ These are in-stock pieces from Home Depot, and they come with the 45 degree cuts already made. (I have no idea how well that's done, however.) I'm going to the store tonight to check out the things and decide whether I want to continue being the volunteer for this deal.
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Zephyr wrote: ...

Concur...ditch the jigsaw/sabersaw idea they're really not suitable to the job.
The best way to finish to the line imo is beltsand close, then good-quality wood file to perfect the line. They're flat and if used lengthwise will serve as a plane would once it's close.
As for the center cutout, somebody else mentioned not to cut square corners by using 1/2" drill. That would work, but imo you're better served to saw to the actual profile needed which will probably be a 2-3" radius to make the sink fit. The sabersaw is ok for those corners but again the skilsaw will make a lot quicker and neater work of the straights and just finish up the corners w/ the jigsaw.
--
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On Wed, 22 Apr 2009 09:56:26 -0400, the infamous "JoeSpareBedroom"

I drilled the sink cutout corners from the top with a large holesaw, then used a circular saw from the bottom for the straight cuts. It's much cleaner and quicker than a sabre saw.

Nope, top to bottom, then back to front, continuing the first cut.

The last one I cut was with my portable table saw. I had to remove the kickback pawls and the shield, but left the guide for a cleaner cut. It was a 6' piece cut down to about 5' so it was easy to maneuver. The client's son helped guide with a few fingertips.
I put masking tape over the top of the laminate, drew the cutline with a Sharpie, put the blade up all the way, then cut the backsplash (and a few inches of counter) first, with the bulk of the counter tilted upright. I then turned off the saw, lowered the counter to nearly flat, and started the saw again, making the second cut in one slow pass. It cleaned up quickly with a file and I glued on the end with no trouble.
Total time for cut and glue: less than an hour, including setup.
--
I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life
which are the real ones after all. --Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957)
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