There are various ways to cut the pieces described in the materials list. If you have a table saw with some kind of run off tables or rollers, use the table saw. Otherwise a rip guide of some kind with a good workbench will work well. Because plywood is difficult for one person to handle I like to use a workbench and a rip guide. There are several such guides available and you can even make your own. In a future post I will cover various methods to handle plywood sheets.
Cross cutting the pieces can also be done in many ways. In most cases the miter gauge that comes with the table saw will work and you can improve it by adding a scrap piece to the front of the miter gauge to make it more stable for the cuts. A carbide tipped, triple chip blade with at least sixty teeth will do an excellent job. Set the depth of the blade to exceed the thickness of the plywood by no more than ¼”. These steps will ensure clean cuts that will improve the final appearance of your project and reduce filling and sanding. I’ll be posting details about using the table saw for crosscutting including how to build and use a crosscut jig on your table saw.
Remember, even though table saws are versatile and capable of making all kinds of cuts, they are also dangerous and capable of causing serious injuries. Always give your work full attention and never use the table saw, or any power tool, when you are drinking, using drugs, or very tired. It only takes one mistake to cause a serious injury.
Choosing The Crown
While it’s important to select wood and plywood that is as straight as possible, sometimes you’ll get a piece that’s crooked or gets crooked later. Plywood often responds to where it’s stored, such as a hot garage, and then it becomes curved slightly. This doesn’t make it unusable but it can be problematic if you don’t take the curve or crown into account. This is especially true when the plywood will go over a wide span such as that over a washer and dryer.
I suggest viewing this as an advantage by choosing the crown and making certain it’s the top surface. This makes the plywood surface stronger because the crown allows it to hold more weight before it beginning to sag. No matter how you are finishing the top, ensure the crown is facing up for your project.
If you will be using plastic laminate to cover all the plywood surfaces, you can choose a lower quality plywood. However, you still need a fairly good quality plywood to ensure good, flat surfaces for the laminate. Begin by cutting the pieces as described in the Materials List below.
After cutting all the pieces you need to nail and glue “C”, the counter buildup, to the bottom front edge of the countertop. Make sure it is flush with the front of the countertop. Use a belt sander to sand the edge lightly to prepare it for laminate. Once this has been completed all the pieces are ready for plastic laminate. Since laminating is just one choice for this project I will cover the laminating of countertops in a future post.
Once the countertop surfaces are ready either laminated, painted, or clear coated, all the surfaces are ready to be installed. The first thing to do is measure from the floor to where the bottom of the side panels will be located. Mine were 38 ½ inches but I suggest that you measure the height of the washer and dryer to make certain and then allow a little more. Mark a location at each end and draw a line for the location of the side panels. Then use a stud finder of some kind to find the location of the studs. This is important because you want to screw the side panels to the wall studs.
Once you have located the studs, place the side panels in place, mark the location toward the bottom of the side panels so the screw heads will be covered by the countertop supports. Drill 3/16 inch holes through the side panels at these locations. Hold the side panels in place on the lines and then drive 2 ½” drywall screws through the side panels and the sheet rock into the studs. Two screws, one at each end, is sufficient for this purpose.
Next, drill three 3/16 inch holes into the countertop supports, one at each end and one in the center, and then screw it flush with the bottom of the side panel using three 1 5/8” drywall screws. You can predrill the side panel surface but it’s not essential. Once you have installed the side panels and the countertop supports on each side just slide the countertop into place. The final step is to mark any cables or hoses that stick up and notch the rear of the countertop to accommodate them as shown in the photos below.
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