Installing an Apron-Front Sink
Give your kitchen a farmhouse look with an antique-style sink.
Butcher-block makes a great countertop and is relatively affordable compared to solid surface or stone, but it’s a natural material and needs to be properly maintained. This starts when you order the wood. Have it delivered at least a week before the job begins and place it in the installation area to acclimate the wood to your home. Keep it away from any sources of direct heat.
Standard counter width is 25", front to back, and standard depth is 1-1/2" thick. Butcher-block manufacturers can make up custom lengths, widths and thicknesses in any size you need.
Apron-front sinks are different from other sinks in that they are installed in a gap cut into the countertop and into the front of the base cabinets — not dropped into a hole in the countertop. Custom cabinets can be ordered specifically for apron-front sinks, or you can adapt a standard cabinet with a bit of reinforcing.
Measure and mark a centerline on the sink cabinet front, then measure outward from this line to mark the sink opening. The cutout should be 1” smaller than the overall surface width of the sink to ensure that the sink lip will cover the cut.
Use a reciprocating saw to cut the opening (Image 1). Turn the blade upside down in the saw so you can see the action for a more exact cut.
Install L-brackets, shelf brackets or wood supports cut to fit to the interior cabinet stiles and back to create a support frame for the sink. Position the brackets under the sink lip to carry the weight (Image 2).
Dry fit the sink into the cabinet opening (Image 3). Its lip height should be equal to the thickness of the new countertop.
The cabinets on both sides of the sink also need to be reinforced to carry the extra weight of the butcher-block countertop. Place wood blocks, cut to fit, in the corners and attach them with glue and screws.
Measure the countertop to length and mark two cutlines, one approximately 1/4” beyond the finished size for a rough cut with a circular saw, and the other for the actual finished cut. This final cut will be done with a router (Image 1).
Use a circular saw with a 60-tooth carbide blade to cut the butcher-block to the oversize length (Image 2). Clamp a straightedge to guide the cut. Because butcher-block is heavy, support the cutoff section to prevent the piece from tearing away as you near the end of the cut.
Reposition the straightedge and use a router with a straight-cutting bit to cut to the finished-length line. Make this cut in three passes, each taking away successively more wood until you reach the mark.
After the straight cut, use a 1/2" rounding-over bit in the router to finish the top edge (Image 3). Sand the cut edge smooth.
Position the countertop in place and mark the sink opening. Apron front sinks typically require a U-shaped countertop opening. Mark the width cutlines 1” smaller than the surface width of the sink so the sink side-edges will cover the cut. Mark the back cutline to allow room for the sink well to drop into the opening, but so that the faucet platform extends over the countertop.
Use a jig saw with a wood-cutting blade to make the cut. Cut from the front toward the back. Start along one cutline and stop when you reach the point where the cut begins to turn. Then cut in along the second cutline to about the same point on the opposite side. Before you complete the cut, turn the countertop upside down and screw a scrap piece of plywood to the bottom across both cuts. This will support the heavy cutout section to prevent it from tearing away when you complete the cut.
Complete the cut and rough-sand the edges of the sink opening.
Dry fit the sink into the countertop opening. Transfer the sink hole locations for the faucet and accessories to the countertop.
Remove the sink and use a power drill with a Forstner bit to bore the holes. Forstner bits make a more precise cut than spade bits, and they are easier to use than a hole saw when cutting through heavy stock.
Smooth all cut edges with sandpaper and seal the wood with polyurethane finish. Use three coats to ensure a water-resistant seal.
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