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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.


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.