Counter Strike

Today, Mark and I installed a butcher-block countertop. We had to cut it to the right shape, first. As expected for Bob’s house, this project was anything but straightforward.

The counter goes not in the kitchen but in the laundry room, which is also the upstairs bathroom. It provides a work surface over the washer and dryer for folding clothes and so on. We endeavored to run the counter the entire length of the room, wall to wall… and the walls are weird. One of them is actually the sloping ceiling; the other follows a funky angle. How could we measure the dimensions to cut our counter? With the sloping ceiling, measuring an inch too high or low would give us the wrong length, and with the odd wall, we couldn’t hold a tape measure straight.

My solution was to make a template. Mark got a big piece of cardboard (from the box our counter arrived in) and held it (with a level on top) where the counter would go. I marked endpoints, cut the cardboard to size with a utility knife, and checked my work by holding it up again. Once we were satisfied, we traced the shape onto our counter. Three passes with the circular saw and we carried the counter from our cut station in the barn to the laundry room in the house. It was slightly too long, so we carried it back to the barn, cut off a sliver, and carried it back to the laundry room. This time it fit like a glove.

Mark cuts the counter, very carefully. (The cardboard template leans right of our saw table.)

Mark cuts the counter, very carefully. (The cardboard template leans right of our saw table.)

While the counter is 25 inches wide (which covers a standard-depth kitchen cabinet with a 1-inch overhang), the appliances are deeper than that, so Mark envisioned a removable shelf to span the remaining 6 inches or so to the back wall. That’s a work in progress. But more pressing, we needed to secure the counter without any support from the back. Mark installed a ledger on the odd wall and built a sort of leg to support the center. On the other end, he screwed directly through the counter to the ceiling rafters. The result: a beautiful, functional maple surface with no visible nails or screws!

Screwing through the ledger.

Screwing through the ledger.

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