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Fabricating a Vanity Countertop with Carpentry Tools: PTC Live

At PTC Live, the crew from WilsonArt demonstrated how to work with Thinscape, a solid surface countertop material
May 13, 2024

In this video from the 2024 PTC Live Demonstration Zone, we look at Thinscape, an ultrathin countertop material that is remarkably strong, hence the bowling ball test. After not breaking the material with a bowling ball, the team breaks out the carpentry tools to fabricate a custom vanity top. 

They show that you can use a circular saw, router, and orbital sander on this material, just like you can with wood. Except this stuff doesn't rot.

Here is a lightly edited transcript of the video:

But we'll try this with a thick granite product and see how that works. So Zach, take it away for us.

Testing the strength of other countertops with a bowling ball

All right, so he drops the old bowling ball and you can see Granite didn't stand up to the challenge. Well, there's a lot of thinner materials now. As you look at this material, it is a pore type of material, so we'll try that and see if thinner is better in this case. Zack will drop it again.

Okay, so maybe thinner isn't better there. And now we'll go to Thinscape. Thinscape, a half-inch thick, is a composite material made of paper and resin. So you kind of think, man, that may be a little flimsy. I'm not sure. And we'll go ahead and have Zach drop that one.

Strength of Thinscape

Okay, nothing there. So let's just see that again, no, nothing. And you guys can see exactly how strong Thinscape is. The thing that you want to make sure if you're doing a little back bevel, remember what that looks like is you have a 90 and then a 45. You want to do your 45 first and make sure you really stay true to that so you don't end up smoothing that edge out. You really want to make that nice angle there so you can really take advantage of that look, that particular edge. The reverse knife really shows well on this product because it almost makes the countertop look like it's floating because you've got that recessed edge there. So that's really a cool thing.

Sink Installation Techniques

So we've got that done, and now I think it's time to talk a little bit about the sink installation. Whenever we do the sink installation, obviously, one thing you have to do that we've already done here is you've got to put the holes in for the faucets. So you would just use a hole saw for that. You can do that as we've done here on a 4-inch spread. You can do an 8-inch spread, do a single one, just a simple hole saw will do that. But whenever it comes time to set the sink, you do have to have some mechanical fastening there to hold the sink in. So, really, there are three ways that you can do this.

Mechanical Fastening Methods

One way that you can do it is called a type F screw. So that's pretty easy. You would just go into the material with that F screw. The one thing that you do have to remember is this: how thick is this material? Half inch, okay, so you don't want to go through the material, you got to make sure that you're watching that. But the two probably most popular methods that we see, one is called a roto lock, and I think Allan has a couple of roto locks there.

But Roto Lock is really simple. It's like a little TST if you look at that. And all you do is just kind of clean the surface, you then score it up just a little bit with sandpaper, just rough that surface up. You take an epoxy, a two-part type of epoxy or acrylic adhesive, we have that in our fabrication information, and you just glue that right onto the sink. That sets that stem for you to be able to attach your sink to that. The other method that Daniel is actually going to show us today is something called a key nut.

So a kee nut is an inset nut there that you can do and be able to mount this sink. So he's going to show that. So he's going to drill a little bit of a kee nut hole here just to show you what it looks like. So you can see that the most important thing Daniel has is to stop his drill. That way, he doesn't go strike oil over there. But he drills just a little hole in there, and then what you've got is a little setter where you just tap with a hammer and tap that nut in, and then you've got it there, twist it, and you've got your kee nut set right there.

Sink Installation Demonstration

Normally, whenever you're doing something like a vanity, you would put four around there just to kind of secure that sink. If you're doing a kitchen sink, you may want to do six or eight just depending on how big it is, and you know it's really a nice way that you can go in there. What I will tell you is this: once you get something bonded into this product, it's not going to move. So, just to give you a little flavor for this, this is kind of like a cooking show demonstration. We'll show you the cake now that we made it.

So this is a sink installation that we had done, so you'll see they had used the kee nut methodology here and Ed the wing nuts to put that on and the brackets to keep that in, and you can see how they've got those four set there so really nice and easy, easy way to do that. Now, if we were going to install this sink on the cabinet, what we would do is we would take 100% silicone; it's got to be 100% silicone. You would run a bead around the perimeter here on three sides just right around these three sides, and then on the back, you would just dot every 4 in. 

So, we appreciate your time. We appreciate you thinking about Wilsonart and the next time you have a job that requires a great countertop that's affordable and performs, think about Thinscape.

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