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May, 2006
 
 
 

2:29 p.m. — Wednesday, May 3, 2006
Kitchen Counter Progress...Finally

(Oops, what happened to April?)

Last night, we hit a milestone: Ryan installed the first of our three kitchen counter sections. The section between the side door and the stove, spanning the sink and the dishwasher, to be precise.

This would be much easier to describe with pictures, but alas, they are stuck on the camera at the moment...

So after much deliberation and research, we decided to go with the wood trim edge for our countertops, incorporating the much-debated "bend thin strips around the curves" approach.

To begin, Ryan cut a section of the 1x2 maple edging lengthwise into ~1/4" strips, ensuring that when the strips were glued together, they equalled the same thickness as the uncut section. Then, he clamped the strips above our steaming humidifier (while turning on the dehumidifier at the other end of the basement, which was kinda funny) and increased the angle of the curve every few hours, until the strips wrapped properly around the MDF form for the corner. He repeated this process for every 2 or 3 strips of wood, until all the strips were glued together around the base. This was a big project.

Next, he sprayed the top of the countertop base and the bottom of the laminate with heavy-duty 3M adhesive. (A word of advice: use this stuff OUTSIDE — the fumes are overwhelming in a confined space, even with the windows open. Ryan got a nosebleed later that night that we are attributing to the fumes...he never gets nosebleeds.) After ensuring that the laminate was going on straight, we starting laying it at one end of the base while Ryan rolled it along with his wheel until the whole base was covered with the laminate. It overhung all four sides by a few inches.

[Funny how he's using all these "industrial" tools that I'm so familiar with in print studios...the spray adhesive, the wheel...]

After the laminate dried, he was finally able to clean it all up and *drumroll please* route the edges.

Unfortunately, the first go-round was not a huge success.

The bit seriously chewed up / gouged one section of the strips glued around the corner. After some re-examination and cooling-off time, Ryan went around the edge a few more times, and thankfully, things really started to come together. He got a clean, consistent edge all the way around the front of the counter and around the curve. He used a straight edge router bit along the back and the side by the stove, which by comparison was a piece of cake.

After experimenting with several different stains, we found one that closely matched the deep red tint of our cherry cabinets. The stain took several days to dry, and then we polyurethaned the edge. After it was all dry (last night), we carried the countertop upstairs for the moment of truth: Would it or would it not fit in place?

I think I'll leave that for the pictures... ;)
 

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