Laminate countertops are far from the usual materials that we primarily work with. While this material has vastly improved in durability and quality, it remains tricky to handle and cut.
For that reason, circular saws are still one of the best methods to cut laminate workpieces (more on that later). Nevertheless, the issue at hand is finding the right circular saw blade for laminate countertops.
Laminate materials can also significantly vary in structure, making choosing the correct blade even trickier. In this piece, let’s look at what sort of blades you should purchase for laminate countertops, along with some suggestions.
- Understanding Laminate Countertops
- Why Circular Saws and Blades
- Circular Saw Blades for Laminate Countertop
- Circular Saw Blades to Consider
Understanding Laminate Countertops
Let’s begin by understanding the construction of laminate countertops. This helps us pick the right blades and work efficiently.
The worst part about these materials (for the ones cutting them) is the layers.At the back of the workpiece, you’ll find a tough shell. This protects the countertop from outside hostility, be it the weather or physical damage. You’d require sufficient cutting force to get through this layer smoothly.
Then comes the middle layer, AKA the core. As you know, these countertops don’t use wood, so they rely on wood particles. The most common materials for the core include particle boards or HDFs (High-Density Fiberboards). And since water can affect their structure, there’s a layer of resin involved as well. This makes the layer dense and tough to cut.
At the top, you’ll notice the decorative portion containing all the visual attractions. This is usually the most fragile portion of a laminate countertop, even though it’s often combined with resin to help increase its strength. Still, this layer is quite prone to scratches and dents.
Additionally, the top layer is what we see, meaning even the slightest imperfections during cutting can ruin it.
Troubles like chipping and tearing are quite common with laminate countertops, often due to incompatible cutting tools. Binding issues aren’t unheard of, either.
Since different layers are of different strengths and qualities, the goal is to make it as smooth as possible. That’s where circular saws excel.
Why Circular Saws and Blades
So, why is a circular saw blade ideal for cutting laminate countertops?
Firstly, their consistency and preciseness. Since the layers of laminate workpieces significantly vary in rigidity, consistency is critical. A circular saw can provide clean cuts free of tearing and chipping issues.
Additionally, you can cut really fast with the right saw and blade combination without worrying. This is tough to achieve with other power tools and is non-existent when done manually. Furthermore, the right blade can be extremely durable (think of carbide-tipped blades).
While tools like jigsaws can cut this material, they still fall short of a circular saw’s convenience and accessibility.
Circular Saw Blades for Laminate Countertop
With the basics out of the way, let’s look at what type of saw blades you should look at.
Crosscut or Ripcut Blades?
Crosscut and ripcut blades are designed to cut wood across or through the grain, respectively. However, a laminate workpiece has no grains, as it’s made with wood particles instead of a block of wood. So, what difference does a cross or ripcut blade make?
Well, that difference lies in their design. Since a ripcut blade faces less resistance and cuts with the grain, it can be more aggressive. The teeth on these blades have deep gullets between them, while the tooth count is usually lower for faster results.
However, laminate boards or countertops are prone to tearing and splintering. That makes ripcut blades risky, as they can often introduce chips in the workpiece — especially near the edges.
That’s why a crosscut saw blade is better for laminate countertops. It’s designed to cut across the grain, meaning it has to emphasize smooth and tear-free cuts.
Predictably, the tooth count is higher in crosscut blades, as that allows for finer cuts. The teeth are comparatively smaller and less aggressive, and the gullets aren’t as deep either. This teeth geometry ensures smooth edges free of splinters.
Hence, always go for a crosscut blade for laminate countertops.
The Tooth Count
Sure, crosscut circular saw blades have a higher tooth count, but how high should you go?
A lower tooth count means each tooth has to cut through more material at once. The teeth are bigger, and the blades have bigger gullets.
Usually, I recommend going for a 60-tooth circular saw blade for laminate countertops. You can go for an even higher count, as it means each tooth cuts more precisely and creates smooth edges. 80-tooth blades are also popular for laminate workpieces.
Try laying the workpiece face down to prevent jagged edges, especially if your blade has a lower tooth count.
This partly depends on the laminate workpiece as well. Some might use high-density particle boards or vice versa. These affect how much cutting capability — and tooth count — a blade requires. The decorative and bottom layers affect it too.
Laminate doesn’t have a specialized material requirement, per se. Many users use the usual high-speed steel circular saw blades for laminate countertops, which work fine. Nevertheless, this material isn’t the most durable, and it may suffer when cutting tough workpieces.
Carbide-tipped blades are an excellent sweet spot for quality and pricing. These blades combine a high-speed steel body with teeth made of carbide.These teeth can smoothly cut materials with varying hardness, and their durability is remarkable. Laminate products suit well with carbide blades, and the results are smooth and tear-free.
Diamond-tipped blades are even more durable, but they’ll cost significantly more. A solid carbide-tipped blade should be more than sufficient for most laminate workpieces.
Circular Saw Blades to Consider
Let’s look at some examples of your possible choices.
1. Freud Diablo 10” ATB Saw Blade
Freud’s 80-tooth Diablo series is a brilliant option for laminate countertops. It uses hi-density carbide coating for the teeth, allowing for increased performance and efficiency. The high teeth countwith smaller gullets manages to create smooth cuts as well.
It also comes with an additional coating to protect the blade from excessive heat, especially during long cutting sessions. This prevents the blade from deforming, even with dense workpieces.
2. Bosch 10” 72-Tooth Edge Circular Saw Blade
Another superb carbide-tipped blade for laminate countertops comes from Bosch. This blade has 72 teeth, which is a good spot to make tear-free cuts.
What makes it suitable for this material is the negative hook angle in the blade. This minimizes chipping more than traditional blades. It is also available in varying diameters if that’s what your saw requires.
Additionally, its micrograin formulation with the carbide manages to cut even the tougher laminate workpieces without issue.
3. Dewalt 60-Tooth 7 ¼” Circular Saw Blade
If you’re looking for cheaper alternatives, this blade from Dewalt does quite well. It’s a 60-tooth blade, which is usually the minimum I use for laminate countertops. This blade uses tungsten carbide to increase its toughness and wearresistance.
Like the blades above, its design creates thin and smooth kerfs, which is a necessity for composite materials like this. In addition, it features an anti-stick coating to keep friction in control. However, make sure that you don’t let the blade heat too much, as it’s known to warp at extremely high temperatures.
4. Freud LU80R010 10” Blade
This is yet another blade with 80 teeth that works exceptionally well with composite or engineered wood. A unique bit about it is the anti-vibration slots. These slots reduce sideways movement, meaning there are even lower risks of splinters and chips.
Its top-bevel tooth design works alongside those slots, resulting in a surprisingly smooth cut with all sorts of laminate countertops. As expected, it features a non-stick coating to minimize dragging and corrosion. It also plays a role in controlling heat, preventing any warping.
Composite wood can be tricky to cut, especially if it featuresdifferent layers with varying hardness levels. Hence, finding a circular saw for laminate countertops requires a precise understanding of one’s requirements. Knowing the material and your saw is a prerequisite for that reason.