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While working on my kitchen last Saturday, I had to cut a notch in the butcher block countertop to fit the apron-front sink in place. One side of the counter was long enough and therefore heavy enough to stay in place as I sawed (and had sufficient overhang into the sink area to allow me to work), but the other side was smaller and moved easily. It it was, however, still heavy – so I didn’t want to carry up to my bench on the second floor.

I’m not lazy – really! It’s just that between running downstairs to use the power tools in the basement and upstairs to use the hand tools and bench on the second floor – not to mention hauling out to the backyard the heavy piles of termite-barf old cabinets and countertop – I’m worn out.

Instead, I grabbed four cans of Campbell’s soup (I believe it was two cans of tomato, one of French onion and one of chicken noodle), the bottoms of which nest nice and firmly inside the lids of one another, then placed them against the wall. Perfect. The counter stayed firmly in place as I cut the notch.

I offered this trick to Chuck Bender for our Tricks of the Trade column, but he turned it down. Crazy, right? (So I guess I’ll consider this as errata for “Handsaw Essentials.”)

— Megan Fitzpatrick

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Showing 22 comments
  • Anderson

    One thing about the beech gluelam countertops. I installed one in in my apartment and saw several others in the building and at friends (this was Germany). They systematically delaminated/rotted around the sinks. Mine had absorbed water and was starting to delaminate when we moved after 4 years. In general the beech absorbs water easily and works quite a bit, and with the wonky wood they use in gluelam, it is worse because of grain run-out on the faces of the boards. If I had to do it again, I’d look at sealing the endgrain with epoxy resin or something around the sink, and using a matte varnish as opposed to the drying oil Ikea recommended. The other problem with the oil finishes was that they tended to creep under the silicone sealant around the sink and at the backsplash ect, as the wood worked with the seasons and at my place and just about all the other counter tops I saw, the oil broke the bond with the wood and the silicone lifted up, became useless/trapped water and looked crappy. Maybe sounds worse than it was, and the wooden countertops were really nice to use in general.

  • Frank Vucolo

    Mmmm Mmmm good idea!

  • Edward in Vancouver

    I see you’ve been to Ikea, I know “Numerar” solid beech counter top when I see it.

    Good move! I installed about 25 linear feet of it at my cafe, and it performs great.

  • Jonathan

    Perhaps Chuck thought the failure to clock the soup cans brought this technique below the caliber of material your subscribers have come to expect.

  • Niels

    Is that one of Chris’s saws?

  • Chuck Bender

    I didn’t turn it down – I just wasn’t sure of your soup selection. If there was a little more research out there on the best soups (or combinations thereof) for sawing, I would have taken the trick immediately, without question.

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