Is Drilling Countertop Holes that hard?
Sam, a good friend of us and a very good customer, after working several years in the Granite Industry, decided to start his own Granite Shop a couple years ago. We have been guiding Sam, through our experience in the Granite Fabrication Industry, to make his business more profitable, and thus allowing Sam to expand it.
We decided to share some of the guidance we provided him through a series of articles, covering the whole Fabrication process, from the Templating to Installation. We have already covered the Handling of Slab Stones, the Cutting Process, the Edge Profile Fabrication, the Polishing Granite Edges, and with this article: Drilling Countertop Holes, we conclude the series of Granite Fabrication Tools. Sam approoached us, asking:
Drilling Countertop Holes is something that many people see with apprehension. There are many things that can go wrong, and nobody wants to expose their valuable and hard worked pieces to chipping, breaking or any damage.
However, using the right tools, and approaching the task with care, Drilling Countertop Holes is not hard at all.
When we say “Granite”, we do for the sake of simplicity. Really, unless explicitly said, we refer to Stones in general, like Marble, Porcelain, or any other Natural Stone or Engineered Stone. So, when we say Polishing Granite Edges, we refer to Polishing Edges for almost any Stone piece
For now, let’s focus on Drilling Countertop Holes…
Drilling the Hole
The first step is to Open the Hole or Holes the Countertop or Vanity will need for allocating the Sinks. As you know, it can be done in a Dry or Wet environment. It is a choice of tastes, and having the right Tools for each one.
Let’s start considering Drilling Countertop Holes in a Dry environment, which appears to be the preferred method for the majority of our Customers. Before anything, you need to create a guide for Cutting out the Hole.
For doing this, you might use a Paint Marker (the same we signaled in the Cutting Granite Slabs article), which is the Met-al Squeezing Paint Markers, for drawing the contour of the Sink or Vanity for which you will be opening the Hole or Holes. Every Sink or Vanity will come with a guide or blueprint to easily mark it on the Stone.
The Tool used for actually Drilling Countertop Holes that we recommend is the Metabo Variable Grinder WEV15-125HT, which is a very versatile and robust Angle Grinder. You will find other choices in the Variable Speed Grinders category.
Then, you will need a Blade. The preferred choice for this task are the Hurricane Contour Blades, designed for Cutting Curves, especifically designed for opening Sinks or Vanity holes. These are very long lasting Blades, and their price is amazing for the quality they provide.
As with the Grinder, there are other choices for Contour Blades that you are free to explore. We’ve seen many of our customers to try different options, and even though they agree that all provide good quality, most of them stick to the Hurricane Contour by Diamax.
If you prefer to do the Cutting in a Wet Environment, the Tools that need to be used are slightly different.
5" Alpha Wet Stone Cutter AWS-125 Powerful Wet Stone Cutter for Fabricators, is designed for use in the stone, tile and glass industry, has the strength to power through tough materials, including porcelain and engineered stones. ideal for any professional stone fabricator/installer or tile contractor.
STONE Pneumatic Wet Stone Cutter, This wet air saw is designed to wet cut granite, marble, quartz stone, engineered stone with air, it could be used with o without water but it is safer when used wet. The wet air stone cutter can accept 5″ (125mm) diamond blade.
Depending on how your Granite Shop operates, you will be using an Electric Tool or a Pneumatic Tool, in which case you need to count with an Air Compressor, as discussed in Polishing Granite Edges.
If you are going to use an Electric Tool, we would recommend to use the Alpha Wet Stone Cutter, which is very powerful and allows Curve Cutting in a very secure and professional way. Equipped with a powerful motor, this Machine has proven to be an excellent choice to be used not only inside the Granite Shop, but in the field too.
If you rather to use a Pneumatic Tool, our recommendation goes to the Stone Pneumatic Wet Stone Cutter, another very powerful machine designed specifically to Wet Cutting, handling 5″ Blades and with motor that goes up until 11,000 RPM.
With respect to the Blade to be used to do the Curve Cutting, Hurricane Contour Blades are the winner again. These blades are designed to do Both Dry and Wet Cutting, and, as mentioned earlier, provide nice Cuts.
Not only their Quality, but an amazing price tag, make them the favorite of many Granite Fabricators.
WARNING: when Drilling Countertop Holes, you need very careful and very attentive to Operator Safety. Stones are very heavy, and once the Blade finishes its Cutting, the stone that once occupied the Hole will fall, at which moment you need to be extreme any Safety measures
Drilling Countertop Holes: Stock Removal
Once you finish Cutting with the Blade, you will end with a rough Cut of the initial Template. Now is time to refine the process to obtain smooth Edges in the Hole.
Below are the most common Zero Tolerance Wheels, all of them proven to have excellent quality. You can choose the one which adapt better to your style of Fabrication.
FEATURED ZERO TOLERANCE WHEELS
Cyclone Zero Tolerance Wheels, these Zero Tolerance grinding wheels are available with resin to reduce vibration or segmented for aggressive stock removal. Can be used Wet or Dry
Stone Plus Zero Tolerance Drum Wheels are ideal for heavy stock removal and material clean up. Its Resin filled design allows for smoother and more consistent Grinding reducing bumps and chips
Wet Diamond Polishing Drum Wheels are used to Polish inside radius such as undermount sink holes. They are much easier than Diamond Polishing Pads to use when Polishing inside radius, while producing a high gloss
Stone Vacuum Brazed Drum Wheels, with Zero Tolerance Wheel Coarse Top Bearing, 5/8”-11 thread is excellent for shaping and dressing up Granite and Natural Stone
Cyclone Stock Removal Wheels are made from copper and are available in three different Grits. Specially designed to smooth the radius and with a long life. The best tool for Sink work and perfectly balanced for Zero vibration
Choose the right Zero Tolerance Wheel
After working the radius of the recently opened Hole with the Zero Tolerance Drum Wheels, you need to finish the Edges.
This is a process very similar to the one explained in the Granite Edge Profile Fabrication, when Edge Smoothing was discussed.
It consist in using Silicon Carbide Grinding Stones to prepare the inside radius to be Polished.
Depending on the roughness of the Edges, you might want to apply the following Grits to Finish the Edges in preparation for Polishing:
- Grit 46 (46G)
- Grit 60 (or 60G)
- Grit 120 (120G)
- Black Buff (Dark Stones) or White Buff (Clear Stones) when it’s necessary
Drilling Countertop Holes: Opening Faucet Holes
The last Step in the process consist of Opening the Holes for installing Faucets or any other thing that need to be installed on the Countertop or Vanity.
For doing that, a Core Drill Bit is used. Core & Non-Core Bits are Diamond Abrasives Drills designed specifically to remove a cylinder of material. Below is a list with the main Drill Bits, from which you can choose the one which adapt better to your needs.
FEATURED CORE DRILL BITS
Alpha Drill Bits & Grinder Adapter. Premium Bit for Drilling Anchor Holes. Alpha introduces the Electroplated Wet Diamond Drill Bits for drilling holes in tile and stone for pre-installation or post-installation placement. These bits work great on Marble, Granite, Engineered Stone, Ceramic, Porcelain and Glass Tile & panels
Cyclone Coring & Non-Coring Drill Bits, specially designed for opening smalls holes to put anchors, pass screws into the Stone, cables or specialty works. Using water avoid heating the Bit, which help to expand its life.
Gundlach Porcelain Title Bits are used for drilling screw anchor holes for shower doors, towel bars and other fixtures. Special carbide tip ensures accurate holes and eliminates drill bit wander. Carbide Bits for small diameter holes in Porcelain, Stone or Ceramic Tile.
Stone Plus Dry/Wet Thin Wall Core Bits are designed to handle your toughest coring applications quickly, efficiently and economically, these Core Bits sport excellent quality. Equipped with the higher Diamond concentration, they provide faster and cleaner cuts.
Cyclone Dry/Wet Core Bits with Side Protection is an upgrade from Diamax regular T-Segment which sports Diamond Side protection on outside and inside shaft, which ease the Drilling and Core release
Cyclone Anchor Bits: 1/4" Diamond Brazed Anchor Bits with 1/4 Shank. Ideal for Drilling Glass, Ceramic, & Porcelain Tiles, leaving smooth Edges. No chipping
Stone Diamond Burr Set is versatile and can be adapted for use in construction trades wherever non-standard shaped cutouts are needed. The vacuum brazed technology is specifically designed to provide an extended life when used on Granite, Engineered and Natural Stone, Porcelain and Ceramic Tiles
Choose the right Core Drill Bit
We’ve arrived to the end of this article about Drilling Countertop Holes. I hope it has been helpful to you. If you subscribe to our newsletter below, you will get articles like this in your Inbox, together with our latest Offers and Coupons to our VIP Customers. Please keep reading to the conclusion.
Drilling Countertop Holes is the last Stage in the Granite Fabrication process. Some people prefer to open Holes before Polishing, others don’t. No matter the chosen order, Opening the Holes and Polishing will Finish Fabrication.
Drilling Countertop Holes needs not to be a headache, if executed properly, and with the right Tools.
When Drilling Countertop Holes, please remember:
- The process can be done in a Wet or Dry environment, depending on your Granite Shop Configuration
- If you choose Dry, use an Angle Grinder. When doing Wet, use a Wet Cutter
- The Blade used is extremely important. Use always a Contour Blade to open the Holes
- After Cutting, execute Stock Removal by using a Zero Tolerance Drum Wheel
- Open the Faucet Holes using Core Drill Bits
I hope you enjoyed this article about Drilling Countertop Holes. Now, it is time to read your comments.
We invite you to express your opinion and let us know what practices you use for Drilling Countertop Holes, which tools do your prefer and if you dare, share your best secrets tips. We are sure it will help the entire community.
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