For some builders, situations can arise on the job site that call for field cutting our natural stone composite panels. When done correctly, field cutting StoneLite® is no more difficult than cutting a sheet of plywood.
Be sure to keep the recommended cutting tools and materials on hand, if you anticipate the need to field cut StoneLite®. At Stone Panels, Inc., we recommend a circular saw with a dry-cut diamond-tipped blade, masking tape, a straight edge, an angle grinder with a four and a half inch blade, and a jigsaw.
There are two types of field cutting that you could face with natural stone composite panels: straight cutting and cut-outs or irregular shapes. No matter which type of cutting you’re doing, protecting the stone from being scratched should be your primary concern. Cover the cutting line and area to come in contact with the saw with masking tape before beginning. After applying the tape, mark the lines to be cut. You should never mark directly on the stone because some inks can stain the stone surface. Especially for long cuts, clamping a straight edge to the panel (like an angle) can help guide your cutting.
Once you’re measured everything twice, you’re ready to cut once. Begin with the circular saw against the straight edge and proceed slowly along the marked line. Slowly is the operative word here, as certain stones can chip. When you’re finished cutting, any residue from the tape can be removed with a soft cotton cloth and Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK).
For cut-outs or irregular shapes specifically, the angle grinder with a four an a half inch blade works best. To begin cutting in the middle of a StoneLite® panel, place your grinder and saw at the center of the cut-out and push the blade straight down, but only just through the natural stone facing of the panel. Once you’ve cut the stone surface for the cut-out, you can use the jigsaw to cut the back skin of the panel. Cut the back skin from the stone side of the panel and force the jigsaw blade through the cut in the stone.
With cut-outs, an angle grinder can be used in a pinch if a jigsaw isn’t available to cut the back skin. With the angle grinder, you want to turn the panel over to its back, after you have cut the stone facing. You should be able to see the outline of the cut showing through the skin. Cut around the outline and punch out the the cut-out from the front of the stone panel. For irregular shapes and curves, if edges are left ragged or chipped after cutting, they can be smoothed with a belt sander; but extra care should be taken with a belt sander, because many stones are very soft and you don’t want to remove to much.