Friday, January 2, 2009

Kitchen II

Countertops: 1 5/8 solid Birch countertops that came in long slabs that needed to be cut to size. Of all the wood cuts I had to make in this house, these made me the most nervous.

The first length I cut was the slab along the South wall, (slab #2 in the sketch) the one under the white cabinets in the picture below. In order to size it correctly, I placed another slab in the corner slab #1, then measured out to the end of the wall where slab #3 would lie across the end.

Frankly, the only reason we did the layout this way was because Ikea didn't make wood countertops as long as we originally wanted.

The good news was that the island countertop (slab #5) came in 3'x6', which worked out, meaning we didn't have to try to merge two slabs together . There was a slight problem with the overhang though. Because we placed the island sink cabinet at a 90* angle from the rest of the cabinets, the measurements of the cabinets were *slightly* off from the plans. (Ikea doesn't recommend doing this, and I suppose this is why.) We didn't realize this of course until the drawer and door front were on, though, so the full length of the cabinets and doors combined was about 1/4" longer than the 3x6 wood countertop. Oh well. I'm keeping it. Just be forewarned should you decide to go this route.

We bought our stainless steel sinks on Ebay. They were a bargain. I can't complain too much, but I have to tell you, the templates that came with the sinks were crap.

We wanted undermount sinks with a flush cut, so that the countertop was flush with the sink. The templates came with two perforated sizes for undermount sinks; a flush cut and a reveal cut. Since I wanted the flush mount, I used the smaller opening template. So far so good.

I measured where I wanted the sink to go, made sure it didn't cut through any of the cabinet supports underneath (came close, though, heh heh) made sure it was perfectly square to the corner of the counter, then used the template to make my cut marks.

The template says to make sure that the template is correct, and to basically not trust it. So I flipped over the small steel island sink and placed it over the template to make sure it fit. Of course, flipping the sink over on top of the template only obscures the template and gets you absolutely no where. Thanks.

I propped up some boxes and a few books underneath the countertop right where the cutout was (so when I was almost all the way through the strain on the cutout wouldn't rip the last bit of wood out) and then the cutting begins.

A 1/2" drill bit started the process off. I drilled into one of the corners so that I could fit the jigsaw into the hole to start cutting out the hole. Then I drilled a second hole at the same corner. The first cut with the jigsaw was the straight cut towards another corner, then I went back and cut the curve between the two drill holes.

Sounded like a good idea at the time, but in retrospect I'd not recommend it. The drill hole I made was directly on the path of the jigsaw cut, and it made it a b*tch to match up and get it smooth with the jigsaw. I decided just to cut the rest all the way around with the jigsaw in one smooth action. The corners were tight, but they managed ok. I would not recommend doing this with a dinky jigsaw. I ended up burning out the motor of ours by the time we got to the main kitchen sink hole.

Then, once it was completely cut, I set the sink underneath to check the flush cut.

It wasn't even &^#@*^&% close. The template was off by a minimum of 1/4" all the way around. I'd cut out too much. So, yeah, don't trust the template. Use it as a starting guide and if you want a REAL flush mount, measure in at LEAST 1/4" from the smallest measurement. You can always take more away later, but you can't add it back once it's gone.

I'm still ticked about that one. Now it's an above mount sink. %$@#!*&

So of course, cutting the more complex main sink for the kitchen, I was prepared for the worst. Actually, I tried to hire someone to do it for us. No one could make it on short notice, so I decided to give it a shot.

After the last debacle, I knew to make the template a lot smaller than the smallest "flush mount" in order to get a real .... flush.... mount. I used a 1/2" wrench to scribe a smaller template line, which, in the end, worked out perfectly.

After carefully measuring, aligning, squaring, et cetera, I drew the cut marks and made my drill hole... about 1/4" IN from the cut line. (You can see the learning curve in action here, folks....)

I made the first cut similar to the island sink, the straight cut side away from the corner. The second cut was into the corner, and this is right about where the motor died on the jigsaw.

Yup. You guessed it... "*$%#@^%$*&$%#!"

We decided that a router would be the way to go to finish off the rest....

OK, this is where I might have been accused of burning the motor out on the dinky jigsaw on purpose in order to acquire myself a long-desired router. Buy, nay, I say-- no, I was just darn lucky! Hee hee.

Anyway, at this point I knew I wanted to make an MDF template for the router. So off to Home Depot to buy a router and a large sheet of MDF.

DH came back with a brand spanking new router.... and 2 small sheets of MDF.

Me: (foot tapping impatiently) Hon, what's this?
Him: MDF for a template.
Me: I need one BIG sheet, not 2 small ones. It'll be too hard to get them to connect. The whole point was to have one solid piece as a guide.
Him: Oh.
Me: Um...yeah.

A half an hour later I was back at cutting out the main sink hole with a brand new router and a straight bit. No guide. Worked like a charm, but I had to very carefully nibble away at the outline 1/2" depth at a time, each pass around the cut line getting a little deeper with the router. The sawdust clogged up the outline and needed digging out at times with a wire clothes hanger, and besides having to remove sawdust from my cleavage every 20 minutes, the whole thing wasn't too bad. It was nerve wrecking having to be so careful.

Once the cutout dropped onto the box I'd stuffed under the counter for just such an occasion, it was time to check the fit. Of course, it was off, but I could still chip away at the edges with the router until it was perfect. AND this way, I could actually see through the hole to see where I needed to adjust the opening. Much better.

Once I got it as good as I could with the router, it was time to sand with the hand sander. Time to finish cutting and sanding the main kitchen sink: 4 hours. Minimum.

Then we turned over the countertop on its top, and polyurethaned the underside. Once the poly was dry, we put a bead of adhesive caulk around the edge of the underside of the cut hole, and used the brackets that came with the sink to attach the sink to the underside of the countertop.

Once this dried, we flipped the countertop back over, sink intact, and snugged it into place on the base cabinets. I then put another bead of caulk between the countertop and the sink and polyurethaned the inside rim of the sink.


Note from DH: We really were fine with hiring a pro to cut the holes. We tried. They were deer hunting, or going to weddings or just busy with other jobs. Fair enough. We even got the #2 guy at the housing department to come buy to try to help. He threw up the white flag.

What to do? Well, you take a good hard look at DW and you say, YOU CAN DO IT! I just tried to stay out of the way and when I heard cursing, I got there fast and figured out what she needed. One router and a bit, and then another trip at 7:30 for another bit were really all it took.

I have to say, I'm very, VERY proud of DW. VERY proud. I take only the credit for having the confidence in her in the first place, and the willingness to keep her in router bits. It was a big deal and she made that counter top her B*%$#. I am a winner in the lottery of life with this one.


Anonymous said...

We feel your pain and joy for re-modeling. We bought our first house and have gutted it. We got our entire kitchen from Ikea also.

I'm just getting started on it. Most of the demolition is complete and the old nasty carpet has been removed. I am now struggling with laying hardwood in a room that is not perfectly square, I'm heading back this weekend to pull up my first row of boards for the second time to re-align them! I should hire a professional... but I am dead set on learning to do this myself! Its great to read your blog and see that I am not the only one insane enough to attempt a remodel on my own! Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Ray, We ran into that with tile.

What a pain. We have more to be annoyed about, however, since some of those out of square walls were built by US!


I was saying to another blogger that there was nothing that we did ourselves that we wished we had hired someone else to do, but there are a number of things that we had wished we'd had time to do ourselves. (which is not to say that we didn't get some good contractors).