Working with Solid Surface Material such as Corian™, a Follow Up

I was talking to Kyle Carpenter at a few weeks ago about working with Corian™ and some of the other materials used in solid surface countertops.  I asked him to send me a scrap piece or a drop end for me to practice some cuts,  seaming and  edge build-ups that I could form into a finished edge profile.  Thankfully this past weekend we were blessed with spring like weather and I was able to work outside.  You will need a level area to work in whether you do this inside or outside.

Since this was the first time I had worked with solid surface material, I was a little timid at first. However, after making my first few cuts I breathed a sigh of relief. First attribute I noticed was that since there was no grain in the material, chip out was not an issue. In fact I used my standard project set up without any issues.  I cut the material using my Bosch 36V Circular saw. The saw is several years old and the blade, a Freud Avanti is more than a year old.  The cuts I made were very smooth and would need little work before using them as seams.  Now I will emphasize that you will need to perform what is called the “mirror cut” to achieve a perfect seam that cannot be seen once epoxied together. This cut is covered thoroughly in the upcoming article.

I am now putting the finishing touches on our article for working with solid surface countertop materials so be on the look out for it.  What I can say  is that I worked with Corian™ material and I was surprised at the ease and workability of the product.  The highlight for me was cutting thin strips that I would use for my decorative edging, stacking them to form a thick edge, epoxying them together and then finishing them with my Skil 2 hp. router. Watching the edge transform from the rough glued up layers into a finished edge with a profile was akin to watching a butterfly emerge from a cocoon.

I sanded the surfaces up to 220 grit. Already i could tell that I could achieve a high gloss finish much easier than I could if this was wood I was working with.  There are some areas that will be covered in the article in detail, that I think a homeowner should pay close attention to, but all-in-all the material was much easier to work with than I had expected. Basic woodworking tools were used. The saw I have already mentioned. I used a Swanson Straight Edge for straight cuts. I used a Skil router and a Skil bit for the edge profile, but I used a 1/2 inch Bosch twin fluted bit for my seam cuts.  For clamping I used a Bessey “Bag of Clamps” on the edge build-up and for joining seams I used the same Irwin bar clamps I use on all of my projects.

After finishing the seams and edges and the sanding, I wish I had more material to experiment with. I know you can shape the material with heat and probably many other things you can do with it that I am not aware of. But for just plain countertops, if you can work with wood, then you can work with this material.

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