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Rough-Cutting the Swanstone The first step in laying up Swanstone is much like scribing the substrate to the cabinets. I place the 1/4-inch material on top of the fitted substrate and mark its perimeter. I make certain that any Swanstone seams are offset at least 12 inches from any seams in the substrate. I flip the material and with a straightedge, draw new lines parallel with and 3/4 inch outside of the scribed marks. This gives me a rough-cut pattern. Using a sharp circular carbide blade, I make my cut. From leftover Swanstone material, I rip 1-3/4-inch edge banding strips on the table saw. At joints, I always trim the factory edge on both pieces with a straight-cut carbide router bit run along a straightedge. Next I rout a 1/4-inch-deep by 1-1/2-inch-wide dado in the substrate (Figure 2), centered under the joint line.

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Figure 2. At seams, the author insets a 1-1/2-inch-wide Swanstone strip into a dado in the substrate (left). This provides reinforcement to the butt joint. To ensure tight seams, butting edges are routed with a straightedge (right). I inset a flush-fitting Swanstone spline, fastened with countersunk screws. This spline reinforces the adhesion of the Swanstone at the joint, ensuring an inconspicuous joint line.

Glue-Up

The Swanstone goes on the top first, then the edges — just the reverse of plastic laminate tops. To prepare for glue-up, I blow off the substrate and Swanstone surfaces to remove debris, then wipe everything down with a rag dampened with denatured alcohol to remove final traces of dirt.

Two types of adhesive.

Assembly requires two different types of adhesive — contact cement to bond the substrate to the solid surfacing and a gun-applied two-part acrylic adhesive to adhere the Swanstone to itself. I use Lokweld waterbase non-flammable contact cement, applying it with a roller — one coat to the substrate and one coat to the solid surfacing. It’s critical not to contaminate surfaces with incompatible adhesive. I use masking tape at edges and joints — places where the solid surfacing has to bond to solid surfacing — to keep it clean of contact cement (Figures 3a, 3b, and 3c).
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Figure 3a. Gluing up Swanstone is much like gluing up laminate: Contact cement is spread on mating surfaces, and dowels are used as spacers while the solid surfacing is positioned.

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Figure 3b. At seams, acrylic adhesive is applied to mating edges and the Swanstone insert.

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Figure 3c. The author uses pipe clamps to secure the joint while the adhesive sets. Depending on humidity and temperature, the contact cement sets up within 15 minutes. I then lay 1/2-inch dowels across the top about 24 inches apart. I lower the Swanstone onto the dowels, check alignment with the substrate, then pull out the dowels. Instead of using a J-roller to apply pressure, I hit the Swanstone with a rubber-faced mallet to secure adhesion.