Attaching / Leveling Carcasses + Building / Mounting Counter Top

After the face frames were attached to their respective carcasses my next task was to level all three carcasses to each other.  This posed to be much more complicated than expected as my basement floor has major pitch towards the integrated floor drains.  Phil and I began the leveling process with the goal of using some small blocks of wood and shims to do the trick.  This was a real challenge to level three carcasses with a basement floor which was constantly changing floor height in two directions.  We would get one carcass perfect and then a slight bump would throw everything off.  We then acted like engineers, tried to think of a better way to reach that same goal with less effort.  Our idea was to attach adjustable leveling feet.  We wont discuss the hours spent driving and searching for the perfect foot, but the following weekend we installed our leveling feet.  Then we methodically adjusted each of the twelve individual feet till we had a level trifecta of carcasses!  We then strategically placed some shims between each carcass and drove some screws into some inconspicuous locations to create one long carcass.

 

It’s now time to work on the counter top for the back side work surface.  This is my side of the bar, this portion of the bar contains a sink, and access to all my glassware.  We made some simple triangular corner braces out of a soft pine, and back wall bracing strips out of particle board which were installed to the carcasses to allow the counter top to attach firmly and easily.

For the fabrication of the work surface we chose to use two layers of 3/4″ particle board; pretty typical in the counter top world.  We needed to span a distance of almost thirteen feet so we could not use a single sheet, we needed to use two sheets next to each other and we staggered the seams.  I did not take a picture of this portion of the project so I will try to help you visualize what we did.  Imagine the bottom layer of my counter top had a board which made up 70% of its length on the left, and the top layer had a board which was 70% of its length on the right side.  So the two seams do not stack on top of each other we increased the strength and integrity of the stacked surface.  We used a ton of wood glue between the two layers of particle board, and spread it evenly with a roller.  The surface was too large to clamp evenly so I created some countersunk pilot holes and drove some wood screws into both layers in many places as my clamping force.  The following weekend we carried the now joined two-layer counter top up the stairs and into the back yard.  Let me say this was not an easy task, and could have resulted in a funny YouTube video if we bothered to film it.  It took three of us to fan-dangle the long heavy counter top partially up the stairs, partially into the guest bathroom, swing it around the corner over the kitchen table, barely under the kitchen table light, swung further into the living room and out the back door.  Once out side we made some major dust!  We used a router and a flush trim router bit to make sure both layers were exactly the same dimensions.  This is very important for when we want to attach any laminate to the edges.  After completing the dust party outside we repeated the counter top dance in reverse to bring it back into the basement.

Time for the lamination! We used some pretty standard contact adhesive to due the task of joining the laminate to the particle board counter top.  But we did apply two coats of adhesive to the particle board as it was really good at absorbing the glue.  We had already trimmed the laminate down to a slightly larger but close to perfect width.  Phil taught me a really cool trick for applying laminate that I want to share.  After both surfaces had contact adhesive applied.  We allowed about 30 minutes to pass and then we placed thin strips of wood (no adhesive on any surface of these strips) every foot or so across the entire counter top.  Then we put the laminate on top of these strips.  Picture a laminate strip counter top sandwich.  The beauty of contact adhesive is that unless both surfaces have partially setup glue they will not stick to each other, hence the reason we put the strips into our sandwich.  Imagine trying to flop this thirteen foot long piece of laminate down perfectly  with out any bubbles or misalignment on our first and only attempt?  Then together as a team Phil would pull a strip from the center of the sandwich and i would use our rubber roller to smoosch (?spelling?) the two surfaces together. We would continue pulling strips out and working our way from the the inside out to the edges till the entire counter top had been laminated.

Next we went around the circumference of our counter top with a router and zipped off any excess laminate.  This was a great feeling to see a perfect top coating of laminate on our counter top.  We then set up the router to create a groove for our special edging.  The image to the rigth shows the special Wilson Art HD Edging I used, it includes a 45 degree bevel on it to distract your eyes, and creates a much softer seam than the tradition corner edge seamed laminate trim. The tradition laminate edging puts the seam at the edge of the top and side. At a quick glance this might make you think you are looking at a solid surface like granite instead of a laminated counter top.

Here are a few pictures of the completed counter top and carcasses.

I love that Sierra Nevada chalkboard sign, the guy I bought it from had his young daughter draw the closed text on it for his garage sale. I have yet to erase it, but it makes me smile when i see it, because we are closed for construction lol.

My next post will have some more of Stacey’s photography describing the work completed to this date.

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