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Sink Cut Out in Formica Counter Top

March 30th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

I am a professional cabinet maker but I learned how to make a sink cut out in a Formica (or, “plastic laminate”) countertop through trial and error. Cutting a sink hole in a kitchen or vanity bathroom counter is a critical step in the installation process of your new cabinetry.


Laminate tops are expensive and if you do not use the right techniques and tools for cutting out the hole, you can easily ruin your top. The methods that I will be discussing will apply to bathroom vanity and kitchen counter top cutouts. The only difference will be the shape of the cuts and the saws that are used to form them. You will need some type of saw horses or if you’re installing cabinets you may use a couple of cabinets to place to counter on while making the cuts. Read the instructions that are provided with the kitchen or bathroom sink.

  • Tip: Always make your mica top sink hole cuts from the underside of the counter. So this means you will trace the template on the raw side or bottom of the wood.

Making a Sink Cut Out In Formica

Because of my experience in fabricating and installing hundreds of laminate counters these instructional steps will work perfectly fine when you are making your sink cut out in a Formica counter. If you’re installing a bath top then you will be making your round or oval shape with a saber saw or jig saw. If you’re making a sink cut out for a kitchen sink, then you will be using a skill saw in combination with a saber saw. If a skill saw is not available, then a jig saw will work just fine. Make sure that you are using sharp blades. The following instructions will give you some good tips and h you make your cuts safely so as to not damage the laminate. Here’s an article on Formica Touch up if you make a minor mistake.

Steps For Preparing Vanity Top

1)    You will need a template to follow in order to trace the shape onto the underside of the laminate counter. The template is usually supplied with the sink. Sometimes they are on the side of the cardboard box.  If you are reusing an existing one,  you can usually use the sink as a guide by tracing the shape in the desired location and then measuring in about one half of an inch. Remember to do this on the bottom side of the top. Take a good look at how the sink is to be installed and determine how far from the original sinks outline that you need to make your cut. The pencil line should be about 2 1/4” from the front edge of the counter.
2)    From the finished side, pushing towards the bottom, drill a 3/8” sized hole or larger through the board “inside” of the line of where you will be making your cut. This hole is for the saber saw blade to go into.
3)    Insert the saw inside the 3/8” hole and make your cut from the bottom side of the top. Do not go against these instructions or you may end up with a major chip in the Formica.

  • Important Tip: DO NOT let the piece of board that you are cutting out just drop to the ground because it will tear the plastic laminate off of the edge of the Formica tops sink hole edge. The sink rim may not cover the tear out if this happens.

4)    Before finishing the cut make sure someone holds the piece that you are cutting out so that it will not drop. You can also use screws as a wedge inside the saw cut line so that the board will not just fall and rip out the plastic laminate on the finished side. If you use screws only insert them the depth of the material.

How To Kitchen Sink Hole in a Formica Top

You will need to have some experience at operating a skill saw when cutting the sink hole in your Formica kitchen counter top. If a skill saw binds and kicks back it is possible that you will ruin the plastic laminate finish of your mica top. Use a saber saw to do the entire cut if you are inexperienced at operating a skill saw. Use the same instructions that were listed for cutting a bathroom counter for a sink if you don not know how to operate a skill saw.

1)    Trace the outline of the template onto the underside of the top. 2 3/8” is the standard set back from the front edge for the cut. You can determine the correct place by measuring the overhang of the counter in relation to the front of the kitchen sink cabinet and adding it to the blind plate thickness of the cabinet. A standard overhang should be an inch and a quarter plus a three quarter inch thick blind plate. The additional 3/8″ allows room  for the sink clips to be attached. Many cast iron Kohler kitchen sinks do not have clips that secure it in place. If this is the case then you can opt to not have the additional 3/8″ set back if you want more room behind the sink.
2)    Next you will have to drop cut the counter with the skill saw.  You will insert the saw blade  near the corner and push forward. This is done by holding the guard of the saw up, starting the skill saw, hold the front of the saw tight to the wood and the back in an upward angle, so the turning blade is not touching the counter. Then once it is lined up correctly with your pencil mark, drop the saw into the wood, keeping a firm grip on the machine. You want the cut to start on the edge of the radius and end on the edge of the radius. Cut all four straight lines.
3)    Now the corner radius’s need to be cut with a saber saw. As described in step four of the vanity instructions, insert screws into the saw cuts or have someone catch the piece to keep it from dropping out.

That’s basically all that you need to know about making a sink cut out in a plastic laminate counter. The process of preparing a mica top for an under mount kitchen or vanity sink is totally different. The methods that I have described are to be used for sinks that have a rim on them.  Rimless under mount applications will require a much more detailed approach and precise craftsmanship. Follow these instructions for cutting your kitchen or bathroom Formica plastic laminate top and you shouldn’t have any trouble. It’s when people don’t follow the methods that professionals teach that they make mistakes. Learn from my lessons so you don’t make the same mistakes that i did.

Categories: Making Counter Tops
  1. scott
    August 18th, 2009 at 14:11 | #1

    I am putting in a new counter top.Do I cut it on the top of it or turn it over to cut it???? Any help would be GREAT,,, Thanks Scott S

  2. David W. Baguskis
    October 27th, 2009 at 09:38 | #2

    I AM INSTALLING A FORMICA COUNTER TOP ON TOP OF THE PLYWOOD THAT IS ON THE COUNTER THE PLYWOOD HAS A HOLE FOR THE SINK AND I TRACED THE HOLE ON THE BOTTOM OF THE NEW TOP. WHAT JIG SAW BLADE SHOULD I USE ,SHOULD I DRILL AND CUT FROM THE BOTTOM AND SHOULD I TAPE THE TOP SIDE OF THE CUT WITH MASKING TAPE ? I WOULD APPRECIATE YOUR HELP. THANKS DAVID BAGUSKIS

  3. admin
    October 27th, 2009 at 13:15 | #3

    If you are laminating, you should cut the laminate with a router and a flush trim bit with a guide on the end of it.

    If you are cutting out a sink hole read this http://fixmycabinet.com/2009/03/30/sink-cut-out-in-formica-counter-top/

    Always cut from the bottom side of the counter with your saw.

    I would double check to ensure that the hole you traced is the correct size for the sink.

  4. Mark
    February 17th, 2010 at 10:05 | #4

    “Always cut from the bottom side of the counter with your saw.”

    OR from the top (Formica) side using a REVERSE tooth blade in your sabre saw…

  5. Nicholas Tassoulas
    March 14th, 2010 at 08:12 | #5

    If you live in the Smithtown NY area, and are interested in doing a job, I have a small project that I would like to tackle.

    Please contact me.

  6. Gisele Marsh
    November 21st, 2010 at 13:08 | #6

    My husband is placing a new drop in top mounted sink in our kitchen. The sink is 22×33 the same diamensions as our other sink, however, it is slightly shaped different in the corners exposing the open hole cuts on the corners. How do we fill in these corners so the gaps don’t show? We thought of wood putty and painting it but I am concerned with the daily cleaning around the sink. Please help us with our “holy” prayers.

  7. Will Smithy
    January 27th, 2011 at 06:35 | #7

    I was wondering how to cut for a sink in a Formica top that is already installed. I cannot get the saw close enough to the back edge of the top to make the cut out complete. I am using a jig saw. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  8. June 1st, 2011 at 20:47 | #8

    Hey Will, the sink cut out is generally done before the top is installed. You need to make the cut from the bottom side.

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