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How to cut bakelite

Updated February 21, 2017

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.

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  1. Mark off your cuts on the Bakelite with the non-permanent marker.

  2. Put on the safety goggles and dust mask.

  3. Drill a pilot hole in the Bakelite with a diamond-tipped drill bit if you are making interior cuts. If not, skip this step.

  4. Set the Bakelite on a raised cutting surface such as two sawhorses or wooden blocks.

  5. Rip the Bakelite with the diamond blade on the circular saw using the straightedge line as a guide.

  6. Clean the edges of the cut with an alcohol-based cleaner to remove any remaining resin dust.

  7. Tip

    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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Things You'll Need

  • Ruler or straight edge
  • Non-permanent marker
  • Circular saw
  • Drill
  • Alcohol-based cleaner
  • 2 sawhorses or large wooden blocks
  • Diamond blade
  • Diamond bit
  • Dust mask
  • Safety glasses

About the Author

Sue Williams

Sue Williams is a freelance writer specializing in the strange and unusual. She began writing professionally in 1990 and has been published in "The Offbeat," "The Dewitt Chronicle" and the "Haslett Gazette." She holds a master's degree in communication from State University of New York, Albany.

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