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Cutting Off Formica Plastic Laminate Countertops in Place

August 8th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

I have specialized in making alterations to cabinetry and countertops for the past ten years. Cutting Formica countertops off in place has been one of several plastic laminate related tasks that I have performed while cabinets or counters remain anchored in place. Some situations will not allow you to uninstall the top or cupboards so you must learn how to cut off a countertop without uninstalling it. Here are a few pointers on how to alter a plastic laminate counter without removing it.

Many of the alterations of this type that I have been hired to do were in offices, or hospitals. As businesses grow and new machines and employees are added to the operation, there is a need to make changes to the office cabinetry or countertops.

How to cut off a Formica top while leaving it installed

  1. Check and confirm that you have sufficient room for the saw to make the cut that you are intending to perform. In most cases you will have to use a hand saw or salzaw to complete the cut.
  2. In the past most of the plastic laminate counters that I have cut off while they remained installed were done with a saber or jig saw.
  3. If you can get someone to help you the job will be a lot less dusty. The extra set of hands can be holding the shop vac nozzle close to the work area as you are cutting the Formica countertop off in the kitchen or bathroom.
  4. You must have a new pack of blades handy. I always use a rough cut style. It’s important that while you are making the cut that you work at a slow pace.
  5. Once you determine where the cut needs to be place masking tape in the center of where the line will be drawn. Now draw the pencil line on-top of the tape. The chances are really good that a really thin strip of the masking tape will begin to curl as you begin to cut. This will obstruct your vision somewhat so be prepared to stop the saw to remove this annoying little piece of take.
  6. Make your cuts and DO NOT allow the pieces to drop when you are finished. The weight of the countertop that you are cutting will rip a chunk of  plastic laminate off of the surface of the countertop if you let the weight of the piece fall to the ground.
  7. Do not remove the masking tape. Finish sand the area with either a belt sander or hand block sander.

Changing The Saw Blade
If your blade begins to get really dull during the cut, change it. Sometimes you will hit a staple or screw and the blade will instantly get dull. If this happens, try to finish cutting the through the metal fastener and then change the blade.
Cutting Formica tops off while they remain in place can be accomplished with professional results only if your take your time. I learned how to cut off plastic laminate counters while they remained in place by trial and error. If you follow my instructions you will achieve great success. Oh one last thing, make sure that you put some masking tape on the bottom of the saber saw so that any imperfections on the guides surface will not scratch the countertop.

  1. Vinny
    December 26th, 2010 at 13:05 | #1

    Great advice. Thank you. Do you have a video of this process? I have a piece of countertop that wife purchased at Home Depot. It is 6 ft long and I need to cut it down to 64 inches without damaging the edges. Want to do it right the first time.!

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