I sent the subcountertop up North to my brother’s shop where he had a sheet of stainless steel earmarked for me. The steel was surplus from a plow fabricator. Mike cut out the shape and sink hole, and had a local metal shop bend the backsplash up, and then he welded ALL of the sides. It looks like one continuous sheet of metal, you cannot tell that the sides were once separate pieces of metal. He did an AMAZING job! I am told that welding stainless is a tricky process (something to do with the heat), which makes it even more impressive. When we got the countertop back home and put it in place, there were a couple spots that had warped away from the subcounter and flexed when you pushed on them, making that metal-bendy noise (that is so a technical term). Dad cut off the corner braces and angles that Mike had welded to hold the stainless to the wooden subcounter and we spent a couple hours sanding the grinding marks and scratches out.
Thanks for the pics and video, Jess!
Mike sent a scrap of the stainless down for me to test different glues and see which had the best holding power. I spread contact cement on one half and Loctite Ultimate Power Grab on the other and clamped a scrap board to each side and let them cure for 48 hours. Both boards were solidly cemented when the clamps came off. I decided to go with the Loctite because it was easier to apply and wasn’t as smelly as the contact cement. Dad and I screwed down the subcounter, spread the Loctite evenly over it, and set the stainless top in place, clamping the edges and spreading out the pressure as best we could to get as much uniform adhesion as possible. The next day we took the clamps off and it was rock solid and level.
Next we tackled the sink. I had searched the internet, trying to find the biggest sink that would fit in a 24″ base cabinet and this particular sink said it would and it did; however, there was no room for the clips that hold it in place. Again we turned to our old frenemy, silicone, and applied a generous amount to the underside of the sink rim and clamped it in place. We installed the faucet and hooked up the drain with no leaks. The next day I took the clamps off the sink and it was fully adhered with no flex. I spent the rest of the afternoon hand sanding the countertop. I started with 150 grit and worked my way up to 800. Sanding metal is very messy but very rewarding.
I made a butcher block dropleaf using sixteen 1×2 pine boards on their edges, gluing their faces together. Dad drilled 2 holes through the width of the piece and I glued 3/4″ dowels through the holes, leaving a quarter of an inch of the dowel poking out on both sides. I drilled corresponding 1/4″ deep holes into 1x2s I had saved for face pieces on the front and back and then glued those pieces as caps. I’m not very patient when it comes to gluing and clamping but I dutifully let each stage set up for 24 hours. I had originally planned to run the leaf through the planer to get a uniform thickness but it ended up being about an inch too wide to fit through the planer so I had to block plane it by hand. Hand planing is one of my favorite things to do, so I didn’t really mind. I was limited to 2 bar clamps and 2 wood clamps when I was gluing the pieces together and had to make it in two sections of 8 pieces (plus the 2 face pieces) and, when I glued the 2 sections together, I ended up with a pretty big cup to the leaf. I started out with a thickness of 1-1/2″ and by the time I was done planing, it was down to 1-1/4.” I sanded it, softening the side edges and making a full bullnose edge on the front. Mom mixed up the perfect shade of stain and I stained it and she added 3 coats of water-based poly to it. I mounted the dropleaf to the edge of the counter with a piano hinge. I had found sliding table leaf supports at Rockler and screwed them into the underside of the counter, cutting out a hole through the back of the fridge cabinet for one of them to slide through, and used these to support the leaf but it doesn’t feel very sturdy. I plan to make hinged brackets to replace these.
Side note: A few weeks after we finished the counter, dad had one of his friends try pulling the boards off our test piece of metal, to show how strong the glue was, and the Loctite side popped right off. This is kind of scary but dad had left it out in the rain and changes in temperature, and that was almost 2 months ago and my countertop is still holding strong.
I had stupidly ordered my bathroom door as though it were fitting within the door frame, not thinking it would need to overlap anywhere when I mounted it to the sliding door hardware. I ended up adding an inch to the top and adding 3/4″ strips on the sides to add privacy. I also hadn’t considered how far down the mounting bolts would be and ordered a hollow-core door. Dad fixed this by cutting tubing the thickness of the door and we drilled holes in the door the size of the tubes, inserted the tubes, and ran the bolts through them with big washers on the back side. This worked perfectly! Dad also cut down the door hangers to end where the middle panel starts on my door. I mounted the track above the door and installed the floor guide. I found a neat door handle in the cabinet pull section of Home Depot. I still need to pick up a pull for the bathroom side of the door. This was the cheapest barn door kit I could find and I was pleasantly surprised with how smoothly it slides. I mounted a cheap full-length mirror to the back, using Command strip velcro picture hangers. I love everything Command strip! When these first came out I was very wary of using them but I had my hair dryer hanging on a Command hook for years and years and it left absolutely no mark when I took it down. They’re magic!