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Not exactly woodworking - cutting granite

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Forum topic by live4ever posted 1463 days ago 4399 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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live4ever

982 posts in 1606 days


1463 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: question granite counter

Ok, this isn’t exactly woodworking but I figured many here would have experience with this.

I need to cut a modest-sized piece of granite (40”x24”) to width to serve as a countertop on a hutch I am building to match our kitchen. From my research, I see there are two common ways folks do this:

1) Skilsaw + diamond masonry blade, with an assistant keeping a steady mist of water on the blade and cutline. Shallow 1/8” passes.

2) Angle grinder + masonry blade. Dry cut. Assistant with shopvac to catch dust.

Both ways seem reasonable, and personally I’m leaning towards the angle grinder as it’s how I’ve seen installers cut granite, it seems easier to control, and I’ve been meaning to get an angle grinder anyways. :)

Any opinions, tips, advice?

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.


13 replies so far

View Sawkerf's profile

Sawkerf

1730 posts in 1664 days


#1 posted 1463 days ago

If this were my project, I would try to get a countertop company to make a template and cut the granite. They have the tools, equipment, and experience to do this quickly – and not wreck your granite.

-- Adversity doesn't build character...................it reveals it.

View wseand's profile

wseand

2116 posts in 1637 days


#2 posted 1463 days ago

If you are not worried about what the ends look like than I would go with the angle grinder.

-- Bill - "Freedom flies in your heart like an Eagle" Audie Murphy

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

5369 posts in 2024 days


#3 posted 1463 days ago

Rent an over arm (like a radial arm saw) tile saw with a blade bath. That’s what I used in cutting the granite for our kitchen counters, back splash, island and window ledges.
Or, as Sawkerf said, farm it out. For one or two cuts, that’s probably the least expensive and best option.

OTOH, buy the angle grinder, convince the wife you might screw up the cut, take it to a pro and keep the grinder. :-)

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View rhett's profile

rhett

696 posts in 2263 days


#4 posted 1463 days ago

Just keep in mind that the cut will not be “finished” like the top. It will need to be polished to match the glass smooth finish of the top. Having it cut and finished will be half the cost of an angle grinder, a tool with very little woodworking applications.

-- http://planeandsimpleblog.wordpress.com/

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1467 posts in 2721 days


#5 posted 1463 days ago

I’ve done the angle grinder thing on a concrete backed tile countertop and it worked okay, and I’ve used to to straighten up a rough edge on a chunk of limestone so I could match it with a frame better. As others have pointed out, you’re not going to get any straighter line than, say, the thickness of a sharpie, and it won’t be polished, but it works.

I think if I were starting from scratch and looking to do it on the cheap I’d try the circular saw with the spray bottle, because you can water cool it easier than the angle grinder, and it’s easier to set up a board to run the saw along the edge of.

However, what got me posting here was rhett’s assertion that an angle grinder is ”...a tool with very little woodworking applications.” I’m just starting to discover the joy of the angle grinder for woodworking. I’ve seen at least one article about building a jig to control one while it’s got one of those chainsaw-tooth like disks on it for cutting the curve on wood chair seats, but recently I’ve been using it with a sanding disk to carve interesting shapes and curves (at least I think they’re interesting…), which I was inspired to try by episode #10 of Andy's art box tutorial.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/User:DanLyke

View live4ever's profile

live4ever

982 posts in 1606 days


#6 posted 1463 days ago

Thanks for the feedback everyone.

It’s a simple cut-to-width and depth operation that would require two cuts, both of which will end up against the wall. So no finishing/polishing required.

I did look into farming it out a while back, and everyone I talked to (3 Bay Area stone fabricators) wasn’t interested and just told me to do it myself. They all felt like it wasn’t worth their time and they’d probably break it.

I have plenty of uses for an angle grinder in woodworking and around the house. So I’m not worried about the cost of the tool. I might just go the circ saw route instead of the grinder. I’ll report back how it goes.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1467 posts in 2721 days


#7 posted 1463 days ago

If you’re North Bay, gimme a holler and maybe we can just meet up. I’ve got the angle grinder and the blade already. I’m in Petaluma.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/User:DanLyke

View Jack Barnhill's profile

Jack Barnhill

366 posts in 1962 days


#8 posted 1463 days ago

live4ever – I have a similar project going on right now except my my granite’s final size will be 71” X 23”. I got a free piece of 3mm granite from my son’s FIL already bull-nosed on one edge but I have to cut it down to size and cut 2 sink openings. I am planning on using the circ saw for the edge cuts and the angle grinder for the sink openings. I’m about a week or 2 from that part of the project though so I’ll be very interested in your results.

My son’s FIL is a GC specializing in kitchen and bath remodels. He went the circ saw route to cut the piece down to just a few inches longer than I needed.

-- Best regards, Jack -- I may not be good, but I'm slow -- www.BarnhillWoodworks.com

View live4ever's profile

live4ever

982 posts in 1606 days


#9 posted 1462 days ago

Dan, thanks for the offer! Unfortunately I’m in SF so it would be a bit of a trek. But my folks are in Novato and I head there often. I’m sure I can find an excuse to meet up…

Jack – I’ll keep you posted. I’ll probably be tackling this with the circ saw this weekend.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View Jack Barnhill's profile

Jack Barnhill

366 posts in 1962 days


#10 posted 1462 days ago

Thanks & good luck

-- Best regards, Jack -- I may not be good, but I'm slow -- www.BarnhillWoodworks.com

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1467 posts in 2721 days


#11 posted 1462 days ago

shopguryl, you’ve gotta be a bit careful, and it would be a good idea to test your GFI breaker before doing it. The goal is to cool the blade and, secondarily, lubricate the sides of the blade a bit. So if you can keep the water to the blade and the guard you should be fine.

Which is why testing the GFI is also a good idea.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/User:DanLyke

View Jack Barnhill's profile

Jack Barnhill

366 posts in 1962 days


#12 posted 1436 days ago

I finished my granite cutting yesterday. I used both a Skilsaw and an angle grinder. I used the Skilsaw for the end and back cuts where I wanted them fairly straight and also for cutting a large hole to start the sink openings. I used the angle grinder for cutting the sink openings to final shape.

The 4-1/2” angle grinder didn’t have enough exposed blade to cut completed through the 1-1/8” slab so it was used to make relief cuts from the inside of the sink openings made by the Skilsaw and working my way outward to the final sink shape.

All of the cuts were done dry using diamond blades intended for masonry, tile and stone. The edge of the blades are thicker than the body and have groves to clear material cool the blade.’

As a side note: the angle grinder I started with was an old cheap import rated at 5.8 amps. It sucked. It was slow and bogged down trying to remove the material. I have always hated that angle grinder, ever since I bought it at a swap meet. When I unplugged it to switch saw the ground pin came out of the plugged and didn’t look like it had ever been attached to anything. So I tossed it and bought a DeWalt D28402 from Home Depot. Rated at 10.0 amps and 10,000 RPM it ate up the granite like it was nothing. The second sink opening went much faster than the first.

One recommendation is to put something between the base of the Skilsaw and the granite. The granite dust caught between the Skilsaw base and the granite will scratch the granite. Not a lot but, enough to see it when you look across the surface.

If anyone was to see picture I will try to add them later. Right now I’m at an airport getting ready to board.

I hope this helps. Good luck.

-- Best regards, Jack -- I may not be good, but I'm slow -- www.BarnhillWoodworks.com

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1467 posts in 2721 days


#13 posted 1436 days ago

Thanks for the update, Jack! Good information to file away for when I have to do it.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/User:DanLyke

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