Galley Counter - Fridge Top

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Back to Home ... s/v Stella Blue home ... Galley ... Projects

July 2008 --

Building the top for the new fridge/freezer box was enough of an effort to warrant its own page.

With the area cleaned down to the hull, I cut a piece of marine plywood for the new top and trial fit it over the area. It spent a long time on the table while I measured and sketched out where the walls of the box would be, and where the top of the evaporator would be, and how I could make access hatches work. I considered making my own hatches, but that would be an incredible pain, so I finally figured a way to make the smallest hatches from Glacier Bay or Rparts work.

Glacier Bay was having production problems, so I bought the hatches from Rparts.

Well, that didn't work.

It turns out that it's easiest just to score it
with a utility knife and
snap it quickly at the score.

Fortunately, I had twice the amount needed, and didn't need to do any precision cuts.

Now it was time for the contact cement.

That hole in the counter top isn't for the hatches, it's just there so I could reach through and trace the outline of the interior bulkheads during the planning phase.

It was about 80F when I did this, and the contact cement dried really quickly.

I read a bunch of tips and hints about laying formica,
and more than one set of instructions recommended setting dowels between the two pieces, and then removing the dowels one by one while laying the laminate down.

That turned out to be
the biggest mistake in the world.

The darn dowels stuck to both parts,
and trying to move them was such a hassle that
I didn't get the counter top lined up correctly.

So, with everything cleaned back up, and new contact cement applied, I just set the formica down on one edge and rolled down on it with a heavy HDPE roller.

Actually, it dried *too* quickly,
and started to ball up.

I should have done this at night.

Here's the backside
of the formica.

So I had to pull the formica back off, which destroyed it.

It also made a big mess of the contact cement. This is what happens when one does something for the first time. Oh well.

I really wish I'd just done this with epoxy.

So I sanded it down a bit to remove all the lumps, and cut another piece of formica.

It's a good thing I bought twice as much as I needed.


That left a good clean edge.

I'm glad that *something* worked out as planned.

A piece of angle iron clamped down against the counter served as a good guide to cut a precise opening.

To cut the opening for the hatches, I first took a scrap of plywood and measured the precise distance from the router edge to the edge of a 1/4 inch straight bit.

The hatch lids were laminated separately. After measuring the opening in the counter top, I cut them into shape using the router.


This will work.




The next day, I trimmed the excess formica away with a router.

This little router bit came in handy. It just rolls along the edge and trims the formica.

I actually picked the bit up a long time ago to cut 1/2 inch grooves for wood joints, but was planning on this project so got a laminate trimmer with a 1/2 inch blade.

Most of the edges were nearly perfect, and a touch of sandpaper cleaned up any imperfections.

Horror of horrors, the formica didn't bond well in some places. This is, no doubt, due to my massive screw up with the dowels and contact cement.

The finished counter top was set in place and packed with foam.

That part of the project is on the fridge/freezer page.

A quick trial fit at the boat.

I think this is going to work.

I measured from the bottom edge of the lid openings to the sides of the box, and then took the counter top back home.

Then I packed the joint with
a super thick epoxy putty, forming a
solid and strong seal.

It's not pretty. Who cares?

I covered my big glass coffee table
with waxed paper.

Then I took some scraps of prefab FRP from Mc-Master-Carr, and set them
around the hatch openings.


Well, I was planning on painting the edges with epoxy anyway, to seal them up.

So I took a small syringe full of epoxy, and injected it as deeply as possible into the edges.
Then the edges were clamped down very tightly.

That fixed it, and you'll never know I screwed up.

I used a precision tool to verify that enough space remained
for an epoxy seal and
paint on the edges.

I've never laminated Formica before, so this is
going to be interesting.

I took a scrap of old counter top to a nearby supplier,
and matched it with a sample,
so that it will match the rest of the original work.

I actually bought twice as much as I needed, which turned out to be a good idea.
Remember, I have absolutely
no idea what I'm doing.

Then I tried to figure out
how to cut it.

Then the edges were painted,
masked off,
and the lids glued into place with 5200.