How to cut a Granite Countertop

How to cut a Granite Countertop

How to cut a countertop is one of the most frequent questions we receive. The right answer is that there are so many answers as fabricators exist. Everyone will use the method that works better for him, so we don’t pretend to teach anyone how to cut a granite countertop.

The idea of this article is to be a walkthrough on the phases or stages needed to do it, showing what we believe are the best tools for completing it, meaning the most cost-effective ones. This is something we have learned through 20+ years about this industry, so no matter if you are just starting your granite shop or are a seasoned expert, probably you might discover something that can improve your productivity.

Looking for an specific part of how to cut a countertop? Go straight there

We can divide the process of fabricating a Countertop into the following stages. If you are interested in a particular one, just click on its name. If not, just keep reading after this box

  • Bringing the slabs into the Shop: once the slabs arrive, you need to enter them into the Shop and safely store them
  • Creating a Workspace: you need a place where to comfortably and safely work with the slabs and the pieces while you are fabricating the counter
  • Cutting the Slab: once you have your slab in place, it must be cut into the pieces that are going to form the countertop
  • Sinkhole opening: after cutting, if you plan to open a hole for the sink, this is the right moment to do it
  • Finishing: this is the time when we need to smooth the roughness produced during cutting
  • Fabricating Edge Profiles: if your Countertop is going to have a specialty profile, this is the moment to create it
  • Polishing Edges: now the edges need to be polished and the stone sealed
  • Transporting finished pieces: the final stage is to move the finished goods to the installation place

Fabricating a Countertop: Stages

When we are dealing with how to cut a granite countertop, there are several phases or stages that can be identified. Let’s start going through each one of them

How to cut a Granite Countertop: Moving Slabs in

Bringing the slabs into the Shop

We all know that slabs are costly and they need to be handled carefully. So, you are going to need to have some equipment to move the stones around, which should consist of at least of a Forklift, a Forklift Boom, and a Stone Clamp. Once you have managed to introduce the slab into the Shop, you will need a safe place to store it, for which an A-Frame is the most common solution.

Forklift Boom

A Forklift Boom is a telescopic arm that attaches to a Forklift or a truck, which after being hooked to a Clamp or other Stone Lifter, will allow us to move the slabs very safely.

There are different Forklift Booms, basically depending on the weight of the stones you are going to handle. Our recommendation here goes to the Aardwolf Forklift Boom FB1-2720

Stone Lifter

In order to pick up and release the slab, you are going to need a Stone Lifter, which is a tool that attaches to the Forklift Boom to grab the stone.

Again, there are different options to choose from, and the one we are showing here is the Aardwolf Lifter Auto-lock, which automatically closes when picking up the slap and opens when you are ready to release it.

Once you manage to enter the slab or slabs into the Granite Shop, you need to store them.

A-Frame

It is worth repeating how valuable the slabs are, the reason for which we need to find a method to safely store them, keeping them from breaking or getting chipped or scratched.

For that matter, we use an A-Frame, which is a structure on which we can rest the stones. There are many options for it, again depending on how many slabs you need to store, their dimensions, and so on. Here we are going to choose a basic one, which has proven to be very versatile. It is the Abaco TAF-060.

Now that we have managed to enter the slab into the Shop and secured it, it is time to go deeper in how to cut a Granite Countertop.

How to cut a Granite Countertop: Workspace

Creating a Workspace

Before you start fabricating the Countertop, you need to set up an environment to work comfortably on it.

Fabrication Table

As mentioned, you need a place on which to work with the slabs to execute the fabrication process. For that, the Fabrication Tables were created, specialized structures that allow to efficiently manage the workflow.

Here we chose The Aardwolf Premium Fabrication Table, as it is very versatile, and you can link together 2 or more to create the best combination for the kind of pieces you need to fabricate.

How to cut a Granite Countertop: Cutting

Cutting the Slab

Now is when the fun starts. Some people prefer to send the slabs to be cut in a place with industrial machines. Others have them in their Shop. If you belong to one of the two aforementioned categories, you can jump to the next section. If you plan to do the cutting yourself, you are going to need the following items:

Circular Saw

To cut granite countertops, you’ll need a circular saw equipped with a continuous diamond coated cutting blade. It is with the help of this tool that you are going to cut the pieces you need to fabricate the Countertop.

As in every category, there are many options, but in this article, we are showing just one, which is the one we considered the best option regarding versatility and cost-effectiveness. So, the MK Diamond Railsaw MK-1590 is our choice here.

It is a very versatile tool, which has a vibration-free rail system that is fitted with anti-wear nylon slides to prevent damage to the workpieces during cutting operations and maintenance-free steel rollers providing effortless tracking.

The MK-1590 has an adjustable depth of cut and plunge cutting capability. Miter cutting ability is built-in with a cutting head that tilts from 0° to 45°. Saw shown with 72″ rail. The second rail set included with saw extends the cutting length to 130″.

You are also going to need a Blade to make the cutting. For this, we chose the Cyclone Continuous Rim Blade. If you are going to add it to the Shopping Cart, please double check you select 12″ for the Rim diameter.

If you plan to open a Sinkhole, proceed to the following section. If not, you can jump to Finishing

How to cut a Granite Countertop: Sinkhole

Sinkhole Opening

Some fabricators open the hole where the sink will fit. Others prefer to delay the job until installation. If you are going to open the hole during fabrication, this is the right moment to do it, as you can do all the finishing together. The key on how to cut a Granite Countertop is to try to be the most efficient that you can. Following is what you are going to need:

Variable Speed Grinder

From now on, the grinder is going to become your best friend. You will use it not only for opening the sinkhole, but for removing stock, finishing, and probably for polishing.

You should get a variable speed angle grinder for controlling the different speeds depending on what you are doing, and here, as always, even though there are different choices, we are going with the Makita 9564CV, as it has proved to be very versatile and highly cost-effective.

Blade

You are going to need a Blade to make the cutting in the stone where the sink will fit. As always, there are many different options, and here we chose the Hurricane Turbo Blade as the best bit for the job.

Please have in mind that if what you are building is a Counter for a bathroom, probably you are going to need to open a circular hole, for which you will need to use a Contour Blade. We have written an article that illustrates the process of opening this kind of hole which shows it in a video. If this is what you need to fabricate, it might worth to take a look at it.

Zero Tolerance Wheels

Once you open the Sinkhole, you are going to need to smooth its edges. When you cut, some chipping occurs, resulting in an irregular surface.

To fix that, you need to attach a Zero Tolerance Wheel to your grinder and go over all the edges resulting from your recent cut. We recommend here to use Cyclone Zero Tolerance Wheels. Select the 3″, Resin filled option, which is what probably will give you the best results

Once you finish cutting the pieces that are going to be part of the Countertop, you need to Finish them

How to cut a Granite Countertop: Finishing

Finishing

Once you’ve made all the cutting, the edges of your granite countertop can be finished with a grinding wheel. Several passes with finer and finer-grit wheels will produce a smooth finish that can be polished with buffing wheels attached to the grinder. You are going to need the following tools:

Cup Wheels

When you cut the slabs, the recently cut pieces are going to be rough, so you need to start smoothing them out, through a process named stock removal. For that purpose, you need to attach to your grinder (the aforementioned Makita 9564CV or similar) a Cup Wheel, which will remove the irregularities and start to smooth the roughness.

For that, we choose the Cyclone Turbo Cup Wheels. Depending on the roughness of the cut, you will go through 3 phases, the first with the Coarse version, followed by the Medium one, to finish with the Fine Wheel (you might also start from the Medium, depending on how much stock removal is needed).

Grinding Wheels

By using the Cup Wheels you complete a big part of the smoothing process, but to fine-tuning the pieces, you are going to need Grinding Wheels, also known as Grinding Stones. By attaching them to the Grinder, you will finish the smoothing in preparation for Polishing. At this moment you are advancing at a good pace on how to cut a Granite Countertop.

Here we selected the Mako Silicon Carbide Grinding Stones, but again, there are many options for this stage. Usually, you go through 3 different grits of the Grinding Stone, 46G, 60G, and finally 120G until all the cut surface becomes a smooth one.

How to cut a Granite Countertop: Profiles

Fabricating Edge Profiles

Once you have cut the pieces which will become the finished Countertop (and probably opened the sinkhole), you might need to create a specialty profile. For doing that, you will need:

Stone Router

For Granite Edge Profile Fabrication, there are many different options, depending on what the customer requested. The most popular Profile Edges are:

  • Bullnose: Full Bullnose, Half Bullnose, Demi Bullnose
  • Ogee: Ogee, Ogee Bullnose, Flat Ogee
  • Bevel, Round, Waterfall, Triple Pencil
  • Cove: Cove, Cove Bullnose

These different Profiles vary a lot in complexity, and although some Fabricators create them by hand, the best way to do it is by using a Stone Router. It will not only make the job easier but will render a more professional result. For this, we have a very practical solution, which is the Milwaukee Granite Stone Router,  not only by effectiveness and capacity but because it’s priced way lower than its closest competitors. We wrote an article describing its perks.

Router Bits

Whether you are going to use a Stone Router or not for Granite Edge Profile Fabrication, you will need Router Bits for Fabricating the Profiles. There are many different options, depending on the Profile you need to build. For the Granite Edge Profile Fabrication process, here are the most popular ones:

Recommended ROUTER BITS

We have written an article about fabricating Profiles Edges, which you might want to take a look at.

How to cut a Granite Countertop: Polishing

Polishing Edges

The last step in fabricating a Countertop will be polishing its edges. You can choose to do it in a Wet or Dry environment, each one having its advantages. Remember that answering how to cut a Granite Countertop can be done in multiple ways, you need to choose the one that better fits with your workflow

Backer Pads

No matter if you are going to do the Polishing in a Wet or Dry environment, you are going to need a Backer Pad to attach the polishing disks to the machine you will use.

There are several options for them, but we think the most versatile option here is to use the Cyclone Flexible Backer Pads, as they will give, as it name implies, more flexibility to complete the job

Wet Polishing

Wet Polishing is chosen primarily because it generates less dust and the Polishing Pads last longer. For Wet Polishing, you will need the following:

Pneumatic Wet Polisher

You will need a Pneumatic Wet Polisher, which connects to an air compressor and to a water source for doing its job.

As in the other categories, there are several options, but here we are going to with the Stone Pneumatic Wet Air Polisher, as it has shown to be very durable and cost-effective.

Wet Polishing Pads

You are going to need a set of Polishing Pads for completing this chore. In this case, you need to choose Wet Pads.

What we have found to be a very good choice, is the Hurricane Wet Polishing Disks RE Series, because of its performance and price tag. When you Polish the edges, you should start with the lowest Grit, going up each step. Most recommendable is to get the disks set, going from the lowest to the highest grit, and finish with the Buff. If the stone you are polishing is clear, use the White Buff, while if it is dark, use the Black buff.

Dry Polishing

The main reason to choose Dry Polishing over Wet, is the lack of an air compressor. Using this method, most dust and debris will be generated, so you should take the appropriate measures for protecting yourself from it. For Dry Polishing, you already should have the Angle Grinder, so you are going to need just the Pads

Dry Polishing Pads

As mentioned, you already should have a grinder, so what you need are Dry Pads to complete this phase of the job.

For it, we chose the Cyclone Dry Polishing Pads, and again, as in the Wet Polishing, you should get them as a Set and start polishing with the lowest grit and going up until you get to the Buffs. If the stone you are polishing is clear, use the White Buff, while if it is dark, use the Black buff.

How to cut a Granite Countertop: Sealing

Sealing the Countertop

Once you finish Polishing, one of the most frequent questions we get about how to cut a Granite Countertop is about sealing, and we think it might be convenient for you to seal it.

For that matter, you should use a Sealer like the Bellinzoni Idea Gold, which has proven to be an excellent sealer and has become the favorite among our customers.

How to cut a Granite Countertop: Transporting

Transporting the finished pieces

Once you are completed all the stages of fabricating the Countertop, you need a way to move it out of your Granite Shop.

Transportation

With your Countertop already finished, you are probably going to need to move it to the installation site (unless the installer comes to pick it up).

You need to secure that nothing is going to scratch or chip your hard-worked pieces, so you need a very reliable tool for this job. Our recommendation goes to the Aardwolf Transport Frame TF2440

How to cut a Granite Countertop: Wrapping up

Cutting granite countertops will produce plenty of dust and could generate flying chips. Wear gloves, goggles, and a protective respirator while making any cuts in your granite countertops

How to cut a Countertop? We want to hear from you

Understanding how to cut granite countertops is an important way to protect your investment as you install expensive items. Granite is a strong stone, but improper handling can lead to chipping or cracking at the point of your cut. This is the reason why you need to choose the right tools for any phase of the job.

We hope this article had been of some help. Please remember this is just a selection of tools to illustrate the process of how to cut a Countertop, but for any of the stages mentioned here, there are multiple choices. We invite you to explore our shop to find the tools that best suit your workflow.

Finally, we invite you to contribute to the comments section, indicating what tools your use and why your choice. In this way, the knowledge of the community will expand.


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