Bakelite is the common name for phenolic resin, which was one of the first mass-produced plastics. Although it was once a mainstay in low-end jewellery, today it is most commonly used in laminate countertops and scientific laboratories. The strength and its superior non-porous nature make the Bakelite a perfect choice for these two uses. However, the same attributes that make Bakelite desirable also make cutting it a challenge. There is a tendency for Bakelite to splinter, but the use of a specific type of saw blade or drill bit will greatly improve the chances of a clean cut.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
Things you need
- Ruler or straight edge
- Non-permanent marker
- Circular saw
- Alcohol-based cleaner
- 2 sawhorses or large wooden blocks
- Diamond blade
- Diamond bit
- Dust mask
- Safety glasses
Mark off your cuts on the Bakelite with the non-permanent marker.
Put on the safety goggles and dust mask.
Drill a pilot hole in the Bakelite with a diamond-tipped drill bit if you are making interior cuts. If not, skip this step.
Set the Bakelite on a raised cutting surface such as two sawhorses or wooden blocks.
Rip the Bakelite with the diamond blade on the circular saw using the straightedge line as a guide.
Clean the edges of the cut with an alcohol-based cleaner to remove any remaining resin dust.
Tips and warnings
- For smaller cuts you can use a Dremel tool with a diamond or carbide saw.
- Diamond blades cut the Bakelite very well but in a pinch a carbide blade will do.
- If your blade has trouble cutting through the entire depth of the Bakelite, try running three or four shallow passes instead.
- Always wear safety goggles and a dust mask while cutting any resin product. The dust can irritate the eyes and lead to long-term lung problems.
- Never score Bakelite; the scratches will be permanent.
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