Bangor Cork’s Guide to Cutting Cork
This quick guide will go over how to cut cork without it crumbling or falling apart. Cutting sheets of cork or trimming cork is quick and easy, and requires a minimal toolset.
Cut cork orders are normally shipped a bit oversized for final trimming on site before installation. This is done for two primary reasons: to keep material shrinkage from reducing a piece below a project’s required size and, simply, because we cannot always visualize or predict a specific project’s needs as effectively as the end user or installer can.
What You’ll Need:
- Cork roll/Cork sheet, unpacked and unrolled
- Utility knife with a fresh blade
- Measuring tools
- Straightedge, pattern, or stencil
To prepare the cork for cutting:
Remove all of the packaging from the cork roll and lay it out in a flat space. Both natural tan and colored cork are primarily made up of plant products and can shrink or expand a bit as they acclimate to their environment. We usually recommend letting the material sit to 24 to 48 hours to let its curl relax and allow the cork to get used to the ambient temperature and humidity.
Particularly curly cork sheets can also be gently back-rolled in the opposite direction and secured with plastic wrap to help release some of the roll memory, and many sheets together can be flattened out by stacking them back to back and front to front with weight on top during that acclimation period. If you want to completely negate cork’s roll memory you should glue the sheet to a flat, stiff surface or board. This is essential if you plan to use the cork as a pinning surface.
Cutting your cork:
Measure – at least twice – and plan your cut on the material. Use tape with a gentle adhesive or a marker (if your project will cover the mark!) to plan the starting and ending points of your cut. Natural tan cork can be cut from either side, but colored cork will cut far easiest with the burlap side facing up, so that that layer is cut through first rather than last. Line up your straightedge, board, or stencil with the marks you’ve made and clamp or manually hold it in place to keep it from moving. If you’re working with a large enough pattern, kneeling right on it can be a good way to keep it in position.
Line your knife up with the edge of your guide and apply even, firm pressure along the straightedge to cut through the cork. Thinner sheets, like ¼” or 1/8” natural tan or thinner can usually be cut all the way through in a single pass. Thicker sheets of natural tan or the particularly dense ¼” colored cork will usually cut best in two or more passes, the first to score the cut and the second to follow through to the other side.
The speed of the cut and sharpness of the blade will govern how smooth of an edge is produced. If possible it is recommended to do a few test cuts on an edge or on a sample scrap of material (we’ll gladly send one with an order upon request) to get a feel for it.