Several weeks ago, I set out to build Noel a new counter for his coffee apparatus, because he had taken over my baking area in the kitchen. I came up with what seemed like a great design, but was hampered in execution by the sudden realization that a 4'x8' sheet of plywood simply will not fit into a VW Golf or a Geo Metro, no way no how.

Then my friend Bob asked if I needed help with anything, so I took him up on his offer and asked him to come help me with my countertop. I showed him my design and he was dismissive of my choice of Simpson Strong Ties for joints. He wanted to use screws and countersink them and plug the holes. Well, that seemed fine by me as long as it wasn't too complicated, so we bought screws and some drill bits and other accoutrements. This took us one whole day, and then we had a week off while I attended school and entertained house guests.

On Saturday, we made an attempt at assembling one of the joints Bob had designed. Damn, that was a lot of work for one joint. Here's Bob, glowering at the painful operation:


So we decided to go back to the Simpson Strong Ties, which was fine by me. This countertop has to last until we redo the kitchen and no longer, and the kitchen is enough of a mishmash that anything will look better than what is there, which is a pair of rolling carts and a pile of stuff on the floor.

We went back to the plans and worked out how to do the supports with the Strong Ties:


There was another trip to Home Depot for more Strong Ties, then, in two hours, we cut and whacked these together in quick order, interrupted only by the psycho who is now living in the cottage next door, who insisted to me that if you hit a piece of wood more than once with a rubber mallet, it will shatter into pieces, and then told me I was a liar when I told him the dead-blow hammer was not a rubber mallet. Kind of a nutcase, but you can't pick your neighbors' tenants.

By the end of the day, we had made four supports:


On Sunday, we cut the cleats for the shelves, attached them to the supports, trimmed them to size, then sanded the lot:


We also cut the shelves to depth (but not yet to width) and made up one of the countertops and fitted it into the corner. The whole countertop will have two pieces: one which is rectangular and about 22" deep and 3' wide, the other which angles from 22" deep to about 16" deep over 4' of width. The idea was to make it so the countertop fit behind the moulding on the pantry end, and yet expanded somewhat gracefully to a more usable depth by the time it got down to where the microwave is kept.

We had a lot of work to do fitting the end support and the countertop to the corner, which is most definitely not square.

Tomorrow afternoon, Bob is coming by again, and we'll work on the next stage in countertop joy, which is cutting the shelves and attaching them to the cleats, to build the body of the unit. Then we'll attach the 1/4" hardboard back for racking stability, and then we can finish the top.

Knowing how slowly work goes with Bob and me arguing about every step of the process, this will probably not be finished tomorrow, but we'll see how far we can get.

posted by ayse on 06/21/04