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How to Cut a Granite Worktop

Author Chigwell Building & Joinery

Date 02/04/2024

Granite is a very popular countertop surface for modern kitchens.

However, if you’re planning on a DIY project that involves cutting granite yourself, it’s important to understand how to best go about it.

Granite is an extremely hard organic material that requires the right tools, skills and experience to cut correctly.


Table of Contents

  1. Important Facts Before Cutting Granite
  2. Tools & Materials
  3. Preparation
  4. How to Cut a Granite Worktop
  5. How to Cut Granite in Situ
  6. How to Cut a Tap Hole in Granite
  7. How to Cut a Kitchen Sink Hole in Granite
  8. How to Cut Drain Grooves in Granite
  9. FAQs
  10. Conclusion

Important Facts Before Cutting Granite

Should I Hire a Professional?

Cutting a granite worktop yourself is not that simple, even if you have tools for the job.

First of all, granite is a very heavy material, and as a result you will need the assistance of other people in order to handle it.

Moreover, since granite is brittle, it’s prone to breaking if mishandled.

It’s also easy to damage while cutting, and needless to say, since it is an expensive material this is something to consider.

Considering all this, plus the fact that you will need specialist tools, it’s often more practical to leave the job in the hands of a professional.

If you do not have specialist tools you will need to either borrow them or buy them, so it will end up being uneconomical.

Additionally, granite worktops need to be cut very accurately.

Even the slightest millimetre discrepancy could end up making a difference when installing it, because then the cabinets, sink etc may not fit flush or correctly.

Should I Cut the Granite Myself?

Cutting granite properly is not that straightforward.

You will need great precision, and most importantly, the right tools for the job.

You will also need to have a clear layout of the kitchen worktops, including templates.

While it is possible to do the job yourself, many people opt to hire a professional for the job to ensure that it’s done properly.

Tools & Materials


The following tools and materials are required to cut granite countertops:

  • Dust mask
  • Safety goggles
  • Ear plugs
  • Tape measure
  • Marker pen
  • Painter’s tape
  • Clamp
  • Circular saw
  • Angle grinder
  • Spray bottle
  • Damp cloth

Preparation

You will need to prepare a stable work surface where the cutting will take place, with the granite clamped down so that it does not move.

Worktop templates are a must, so measure and mark lines to guide the cutting in advance.

The lines should be covered with some painter’s tape to protect the granite from possible chipping.

Once you’ve done this, remark the lines on the tape.

Finally, make sure to wear a dust mask and safety goggles before you start the cutting process.

How to Cut a Granite Worktop


Firstly, set up a straightedge guide along the first line that you intend to cut.

While cutting, it’s recommended that you back-cut the granite first by cutting a section of around 2 inches at the finishing end of the line.

You will need to cut slowly and precisely along the cut line, either using a circular saw or an angle grinder.

Make sure that you always move the tool as you proceed along the cut line, but avoid forcing it along.

If you feel that the tool is struggling, it’s best to cut in two passes.

Once you have completed the cutting, let the dust settle and remove the tape. Then, wipe the granite edges with a damp cloth.

You may notice uneven or rough edges which can then be smoothed down with an angle grinder.

It’s recommended to regularly spray the top of the granite with water so as to help minimise the dust produced and cool the blade.

It is also a good idea to stop at regular intervals to apply cutting oil to the drill.

How to Cut Granite in Situ

Cutting granite in situ can be quite complicated.

The complexity of the job will depend on the size and the layout of the granite, as well as on any in-built elements such as sinks.

In such a case it is often more practical to hire a professional for the job.

How to Cut a Tap Hole in Granite


Start by preparing the granite by marking the cut lines. Like the example above, cover the lines with tape.

Then before you begin cutting, put on appropriate protective equipment.

Start by slowly cutting along the lines using a circular saw.

Cutting holes is more challenging as you will need to change the direction of the cutting.

In the case of holes, you will need to drill a hole in each corner of the hole you want to cut.

You will need to start with plunge cuts in order to enter the granite surface with the saw or grinder. For round holes you will need to use a diamond-tipped hole saw.

Press down as gently as you can on the hole drill, pull the trigger, and try to keep firm pressure on the drill.

If you do not push you should get a better result as you will be able to cut more cleanly.

Always use both hands when operating the saw to have maximum control over it as well as prevent any kickbacks or slipping.

It’s important to ensure that any hole that you make is at least an inch away from the edge as otherwise there is a good chance that the granite will break.

How to Cut a Kitchen Sink Hole in Granite

Housing a sink will require you to cut the granite accordingly.

The process is similar to that required to cut any hole in granite, but in this case it is highly recommended that you have a clear template to match the exact dimensions of the sink that will be installed.

Start by drilling a hole in each of the corners of the sink’s outline.

Then make a plunge cut to enter the granite and commence cutting.

How to Cut Drain Grooves in Granite

To cut drain grooves in granite you will need to use a flute wheel.

This will allow you to grind the grooves as well as polish them and get a smoother finish.

This is a highly skilled and challenging task, so unless you know what you’re doing, hire a professional for this job.

FAQs

What's the best tool to cut granite?

A standard circular saw or a wet-cut circular saw are the best tools for cutting granite. The latter is better as it produces less dust.

Can I cut granite using a circular saw?

Yes, in fact a circular saw is the most suitable tool you can use for granite cutting. Granite can be cut either wet or dry. So, depending on what you prefer you can use a standard circular saw or a wet-cutting saw.

Can I cut granite using an angle grinder?

Yes you can, and in fact an angle grinder is more ideal if you need to make smaller cuts.

The following is an overview of how to proceed:

  • First of all make sure that you have the right cutting blade for the angle grinder. The best is a diamond blade.
  • Secure the granite to a stable surface and put on protective equipment.
  • Mark the cutting lines, and place painter’s tape along the lines.
  • Start by making small and shallow cuts. Then, work your way slowly cutting along the marked lines. Never attempt to cut the whole piece in one go.
  • Cool the blade regularly with a wet sponge, and clean the granite with a damp cloth.

Can I cut granite by hand?

Granite can be cut by hand. However, since it is very brittle, hand cutting is not recommended. You should also consider the financial aspect, because you would not want to damage the granite and have to find a replacement. Any mistakes can be very costly.

If however you feel experienced enough to do so, the following is how to best go about it:

  • Clamp the granite to a stable surface.
  • Mark the cut lines, adding an extra ¼ inch to account for the width of the chisel and blade.
  • Hold the chisel’s point to rest against the granite and gently start to tap the head with a mallet.
  • Chisel a groove of around ½ inch in depth along the cut lines. Make sure they are perfectly aligned.
  • Then, using a diamond-tipped hand saw start to cut, wetting the blade regularly to minimise the dust.

Conclusion

While considering everything, it’s generally recommended to hire a professional to cut granite.

With it being such a fragile and expensive material, any mistake could be a costly one.

If however you are skilled and experienced enough for the job, and have the right tools at your disposal, cutting granite yourself is possible.

But as mentioned above, it carries huge risks.

As long as you take the right precautions and have the right tools, you can carry out granite cutting as a DIY job if you wish.


MDF vs Particle Board - What's the Difference

Author Chigwell Building & Joinery

Date 01/02/2024

When buying building materials or even purchasing new furniture, you need to consider the quality of the material you choose.

MDF and particle board are among the most popular materials used for various kinds of building projects as well as furniture, since they help to keep prices down.

However, it’s important to be aware of some key differences between the two in order to choose wisely.

Both materials have a similar look but don't quite match up in practical terms.

In the chapters below, we take a look at the key difference between MDF vs particle board, highlighting their pros and cons.


Table of Contents

  1. What is MDF?
  2. What is Particle Board?
  3. Key Differences Between MDF vs Particle Board
  4. Which is Stronger - MDF vs Particle Board?
  5. Conclusion

What is MDF?


Image credit: Amazon

MDF stands for Medium Density Fibreboard.

Despite being a by-product of waste wood material, it’s considerably strong and dense.

This is because it is mainly made from wood fibres as opposed to sawdust.

MDF Pros

  • Good quality material
  • Strong and dense
  • Can be painted
  • Easy to drill and cut
  • Holds screws and nails well
  • Smooth surface
  • Has a realistic finish
  • Does not deteriorate like particle board if exposed to moisture

MDF Cons

  • Heavy compared to particle board
  • Can release toxic formaldehyde when cut
  • More expensive than particle board
  • Absorbs water quickly, leading to swelling and damage

What is Particle Board?


Image credit: Wikipedia

Particle board is also known as chipboard or low-density fibreboard.

Like MDF, it is essentially another waste-wood product.

This is because it is made up of byproducts derived from woodwork.

The sawdust gets compressed with resin adhesives to produce sheets of workable material.

Particle boards are used for low-end furniture and home decor projects.

It’s often used for the underlying layer of countertops.

Often laminate or veneer are used to finish the surface of particle boards in order to give it a better look.

Particle Board Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to work with
  • Holds screws well
  • Can be drilled into easily
  • Can be cut, painted and glued easily
  • Has a smooth and flat surface
  • Lightweight and easy to carry or transport
  • Ideal for lower end projects
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Made from waste-wood products so eco-friendly
  • Good soundproofing properties

Particle Board Cons

  • Easily snaps or cracks if bent
  • Low durability
  • Uneven rough surface
  • Not very durable
  • Low moisture resistance, leading to expansion problems

Key Differences Between MDF vs Particle Board

One of the main differences between MDF and particle board is that a different amount of material is used to produce them.

MDF is relatively more expensive as it’s stronger and denser than particle board.

This is mainly attributed to the fact that it is made from wood fibres rather than sawdust, as in the case of particle board.

In fact, while particle board has an acceptable level of strength, it’s nowhere near as strong as MDF.

Moreover, it will not stand up to humidity and high levels of moisture as well as MDF.

Despite the fact that they look very similar, MDF does not have any wood grain.

This is due to the fact that it is formed under high pressure and at extreme temperatures, resulting in no voids at all in its composition.

Which is Stronger - MDF vs Particle Board?

There is no denying that MDF is stronger than particle board.

In fact, many like to describe it as being a type of particle board which has been improved.

MDF is an engineered wood that is manufactured using wood fibres which are then bonded together with resin and other adhesives by means of very high compression and temperatures.

On the other hand, particle boards are made similarly but using sawdust.

Hence, MDF is considerably denser and stronger than particle board.

MDF is still not ideal for scenarios with high moisture or humidity, but if sealed at the edges, it will withstand such conditions more than particle board for a certain period of time.

Conclusion

By now you should be in a better position to appreciate the differences between MDF and particle board.

As explained in more detail above, both of them have their respective pros and cons.

Hence, when choosing you will need to take into account their durability, functionality, aesthetic appeal, weight and budget.

This will help you to make a well informed choice depending on your project requirements.


8 Types of Manufactured Wood

Author Chigwell Building & Joinery

Date 01/12/2023

Wood has been a foundational material for centuries, shaping our homes, furniture, and countless other items.

But there's more to wood than what grows in forests.

Manufactured wood, also known as engineered wood, brings forth a world of possibilities.

In this article, we'll explore eight common types of manufactured wood, delving into their uses, advantages and drawbacks.


Table of Contents

  1. What is Manufactured Wood?
  2. 1. Blockboard
  3. 2. Chipboard (Particleboard)
  4. 3. Fibreboard
  5. 4. Hardboard
  6. 5. Insulation Board
  7. 6. MDF
  8. 7. Plywood
  9. 8. Veneer
  10. Conclusion

What is Manufactured Wood?

Manufactured wood stands as a testament to human ingenuity in the realm of woodworking.

Unlike traditional lumber, which is sourced directly from trees, manufactured wood is an amalgamation of wood fibres, particles, or even entire logs that have undergone meticulous engineering processes.

The production of manufactured wood involves breaking down raw wood materials into smaller components, often in the form of fibres, chips, or sawmill shavings.

These components are then combined using high-quality adhesives, creating a strong bond that is further reinforced through heat and pressure.

This process, often termed as composite technology, results in the formation of sturdy and versatile wood products.

One of the defining features of manufactured wood lies in its consistency.

Unlike natural wood, which can vary significantly in terms of density, texture, and appearance, engineered wood products offer uniformity.

This consistency allows manufacturers and builders to predict and control the material's properties, ensuring that it meets specific standards and requirements.

Moreover, the adaptability of manufactured wood is noteworthy.

By altering the composition, density, and adhesives used in the manufacturing process, engineers and designers can tailor these materials for a wide array of purposes.

This adaptability has led to the creation of diverse engineered wood products, each optimised for particular applications in the construction, furniture, and interior design industries.

Manufactured wood is not merely a replication of natural wood; it represents an enhancement, an evolution that addresses the limitations of traditional lumber.

While solid wood can be susceptible to warping, cracking, and insect infestations, engineered wood products are engineered to resist these issues.

Additionally, due to their consistent quality and availability, they are often more cost-effective, making them an attractive choice for both large-scale construction projects and intricate furniture designs.

1. Blockboard


Image credit: Gharpedia

Blockboard, a versatile type of manufactured wood, is known for its remarkable strength and stability.

The manufacturing process of blockboard begins with selecting high-quality softwood strips.

These strips are carefully arranged side by side and bonded together using strong adhesive.

Once the core is formed, it is enveloped by thin layers of hardwood veneers.

These veneers are glued onto both sides of the core, creating a sandwich-like structure.

The entire assembly is subjected to high pressure and heat, ensuring a secure bond and structural integrity.

Uses of Blockboard

Blockboard finds widespread use in the construction industry, particularly in creating heavy-duty furniture, doors, and panels.

Its robust nature makes it ideal for applications where strength and stability are paramount.

Furniture crafted from blockboard includes cabinets, tables, wardrobes, and shelving units.

It is also frequently employed in interior and exterior doors due to its resistance to warping.

In addition, blockboard is used in wall panels and partitions, where durability and longevity are essential.

Advantages of Blockboard

Exceptional Strength

The core made of softwood strips and hardwood veneers gives blockboard exceptional strength, making it suitable for heavy-duty applications.

Stability

Blockboard is highly stable and resistant to warping, ensuring that furniture and doors retain their shape and functionality over time.

Versatility

Its versatile nature allows for various finishes, making it adaptable to different interior and exterior design styles.

Ease of Workability

Blockboard is relatively easy to cut, shape, and finish, making it convenient for carpenters and craftsmen to work with.

Drawbacks of Blockboard

Weight

Due to its dense structure, blockboard can be heavy, which might pose challenges during installation, especially for larger furniture pieces.

Moisture Sensitivity

While blockboard is more stable than solid wood, it can still be affected by moisture.

Prolonged exposure to damp conditions can lead to damage, making proper sealing and finishing crucial.

2. Chipboard (Particleboard)


Image credit: Wikipedia

Chipboard, often referred to as particleboard, is engineered from a blend of wood chips, sawmill shavings, and resin binders.

These raw materials are mixed thoroughly and then compressed under high pressure and heat.

The heat activates the resin, creating a strong bond that holds the wood particles together.

This process results in a dense and robust sheet material, ready for various applications.

Uses of Chipboard

Particleboard is a versatile material extensively used in furniture manufacturing.

It serves as the core material for cabinets, shelves, tables, and various other pieces.

Its smooth surface and ability to hold finishes well make it suitable for laminating or veneering, enabling a wide range of decorative options.

Additionally, particleboard is employed in interior construction for applications such as wall panels and partitions.

Advantages of Chipboard

Affordability

Particleboard is considerably more budget-friendly than solid wood, making it an economical choice for furniture and interior construction.

Versatility

Its smooth surface allows for easy finishing, enabling a variety of decorative treatments such as painting, veneering, or laminating.

Environmentally Friendly

Particleboard is often made from recycled wood materials, contributing to sustainable practices in the woodworking industry.

Consistency

The manufacturing process ensures uniformity, providing consistent quality and thickness across sheets.

Drawbacks of Chipboard

Moisture Sensitivity

Particleboard is highly susceptible to moisture.

Prolonged exposure can cause swelling and warping, limiting its use in damp environments.

Strength

While sturdy, particleboard is not as strong as solid wood, making it less suitable for applications requiring significant weight-bearing capacities.

Durability

Over time, especially with heavy use, particleboard may chip or dent more easily than solid wood, impacting its long-term durability.

3. Fibreboard


Image credit: Wikipedia

Fibreboard is crafted from wood fibres, usually sourced from recycled wood products or wood chips.

These fibres are mixed with heat and adhesive, then subjected to high pressure, forming a dense and uniform sheet material.

The heat activates the adhesive, bonding the fibres tightly together.

The density of the board can be varied based on the application requirements, resulting in different types such as high-density fibreboard (HDF) and low-density fibreboard (LDF).

Uses of Fibreboard

Fibreboard finds extensive use in the furniture industry, where its malleability allows intricate designs for items like cabinets, tables, and chairs.

High-density fibreboard (HDF) acts as a sturdy foundation in laminate flooring, offering durability and a smooth surface.

Additionally, it serves as the core material for interior doors and decorative wall panels, effectively holding veneers and laminates.

In crafting and DIY projects, low-density fibreboard (LDF) is preferred due to its lightweight nature and ease of intricate shaping.

Advantages of Fibreboard

Versatility

Fibreboard's ability to hold finishes well makes it a preferred choice for applications where a smooth, even surface is necessary.

Economical

Compared to solid wood, fibreboard is cost-effective, making it a budget-friendly option for furniture and interior elements.

Eco-Friendly

Often made from recycled wood fibres, fibreboard promotes sustainable practices in woodworking.

Ease of Machining

Fibreboard can be easily cut, shaped, and moulded, allowing for intricate designs and creative detailing in furniture and decorative pieces.

Drawbacks of Fibreboard

Moisture Sensitivity

Similar to other engineered wood products, fibreboard is sensitive to moisture. Prolonged exposure can cause swelling and damage the material.

Durability

While suitable for many applications, fibreboard is not as durable as solid wood, especially in high-stress areas.

Limited Load-Bearing Capacity

Due to its composition, fibreboard is not ideal for applications that require substantial weight-bearing capabilities.

4. Hardboard


Image credit: Wikipedia

Hardboard, also known as Masonite, is a versatile engineered wood product created by refining wood fibres into a pulp.

This pulp is then combined with adhesives and compressed under high pressure.

Heat is applied during the pressing process, creating a solid, dense board.

This results in a dense and exceptionally smooth board.

Its robust nature makes it a popular choice in various applications.

Uses of Hardboard

Due to its smooth surface and high strength, hardboard is employed in a range of applications.

It is often used as backing material for cabinets, providing stability and support.

In the construction industry, hardboard finds use as door skins, where its resilience and ease of machining make it a preferred material.

Additionally, it is utilised in decorative wall panelling, adding a sleek finish to interior spaces.

Advantages of Hardboard

Smooth Surface for Finishing

One of hardboard's notable benefits lies in its smooth texture, providing an excellent canvas for painting or veneering applications.

High Density and Strength

Its dense composition imparts significant strength, making hardboard resistant to warping and damage, ensuring durability in various uses.

Lightweight and Easy Handling

Despite its robustness, hardboard is relatively lightweight, making it easy to handle and install, enhancing convenience in construction projects.

Versatility in Machining

Craftsmen and builders favour hardboard due to its versatility in machining, allowing for intricate designs and precise shaping.

Drawbacks of Hardboard

Moisture Susceptibility

One of hardboard's limitations is its vulnerability to moisture.

Prolonged exposure to water can cause it to swell or deteriorate, limiting its application in damp environments.

Lack of Natural Grain Patterns

Unlike solid wood, hardboard lacks the inherent grain patterns.

This absence might be a drawback in applications where the desire is for the natural aesthetic of wood, impacting its use in certain decorative contexts.

5. Insulation Board


Image credit: Ebay

Insulation boards are crafted through compressing wood fibres, creating a dense structure optimised for thermal efficiency.

These fibres, often derived from recycled wood products, are bonded under pressure, forming sturdy panels.

Uses of Insulation Board

Insulation boards are widely used in buildings to enhance energy efficiency.

They serve as a barrier against heat transfer, keeping spaces warm in winter and cool in summer.

Advantages of Insulation Board

Excellent Thermal Insulation

Insulation boards excel in providing thermal insulation, regulating indoor temperatures and reducing energy consumption by minimising heat loss or gain.

Lightweight and Easy Installation

Their lightweight nature makes them convenient to handle and install, speeding up construction processes and lowering labour costs.

Eco-Friendly Option

Many insulation boards are made from recycled wood fibres, making them environmentally friendly choices in construction, aligning with sustainable building practices.

Drawbacks of Insulation Board

Moisture Sensitivity

Insulation boards can be sensitive to moisture.

Prolonged exposure to damp conditions might compromise their insulating properties and structural integrity.

Limited Load-Bearing Capacity

While suitable for insulation and soundproofing, insulation boards typically have limited load-bearing capacity, restricting their use in certain structural applications.

Proper support and framing are crucial when incorporating them into construction projects.

6. MDF


Image credit: Amazon

MDF or Medium Density Fibreboard is a versatile manufactured wood product.

MDF is created by breaking down wood fibres into a pulp, which is then mixed with wax and resin adhesive.

This mixture is compressed and heated to form sturdy sheets of uniform density.

Uses of MDF

MDF's smooth and uniform surface makes it a preferred choice for crafting furniture pieces like tables, chairs, and cabinets.

Its consistent texture allows for intricate designs and detailed woodworking.

In addition, MDF is often used for decorative mouldings and trim work due to its ease of shaping and finishing.

It can mimic the look of solid wood at a fraction of the cost.

MDF also serves as a core material for doors, especially those with intricate designs.

It provides stability and durability, making it suitable for interior and decorative doors.

Advantages of MDF

Uniform Texture

MDF has a consistent texture, ensuring smooth finishes on all sides.

MDF easily accepts many forms of primer for a smoother paint finish.

This uniformity is valuable in applications where a polished appearance is essential.

Versatility

MDF readily absorbs paints, and adheres to veneers and laminates, allowing for a variety of finishes.

This adaptability makes it ideal for creating custom designs in furniture and decorative elements.

Cost-Effectiveness

Compared to solid wood, MDF is a more affordable option for furniture and decorative applications, making it accessible for various budgets.

Drawbacks of MDF

Moisture Vulnerability

MDF is sensitive to moisture.

Prolonged exposure to damp conditions can cause it to swell or lose structural integrity.

Proper sealing and finishing are essential to protect it from moisture.

Limited Structural Strength

While MDF is excellent for decorative and lightweight applications, it lacks the structural strength of solid wood.

It may not be suitable for heavy-load-bearing furniture or structural components without proper reinforcement.

7. Plywood


Image credit: Wikipedia

Plywood is perhaps one of the most well-known engineered woods.

Plywood is manufactured by bonding multiple layers of thin wood veneers, known as plies, together.

Each ply is positioned with its wood grain perpendicular to the adjacent layers.

This cross-graining technique enhances the structural integrity of the material.

The layers are bonded with adhesive under high pressure and heat, creating a robust and durable sheet.

Uses of Plywood

Plywood is a staple in the construction industry.

It is widely used for sheathing, roofing, flooring, and formwork due to its strength and resistance to warping.

Plywood's stability makes it valuable in structural applications.

Plywood also serves as a foundational material for furniture, especially in modern and contemporary designs.

Its versatility allows for intricate cuts and designs, making it ideal for crafting chairs, tables, cabinets, and shelving units.

Plywood is also a popular choice for constructing cabinet boxes.

Its stability ensures that cabinets retain their shape over time, even under the weight of kitchen appliances and utensils.

Advantages of Plywood

Strength and Stability

Plywood's cross-grain construction gives it remarkable strength.

It can withstand heavy loads and resist bending and warping, making it a reliable choice for various applications.

Versatility

Plywood comes in different grades and thicknesses, making it adaptable for diverse projects. It can be easily cut, shaped, and finished to suit specific requirements.

Cost-Effectiveness

Plywood offers a balance between cost and performance. It provides significant strength without the high price tag associated with solid wood.

Drawbacks of Plywood

Vulnerability to Moisture

While exterior-grade plywood is designed to resist moisture, it is not entirely waterproof.

Prolonged exposure to water can lead to delamination and deterioration of the material.

Aesthetics

The visible layered structure of plywood might not suit all aesthetic preferences.

In high-end furniture and architectural applications, solid wood veneers are often preferred for a seamless, natural appearance.

8. Veneer