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Correctly scribing your countertop is a very important step. Walls in houses are very seldom straight or are corners square. Your countertop has a 1/2" pine scribe stick, this makes scribing easier. Due to the number of different situations that can be encountered when scribing countertops, we will just touch on the basics. Tools needed are; belt sander (Fig.1), extra sanding belts, saw horses, pencil compass and tape measure.

How to Scribe Countertop

  • Place countertop on saw horses laminate side up.
  • With a belt sander (3" X 21" size works well) sand pine stick to approximately a 45° point (Fig.2). The idea is to have the back splash contact the wall with the smallest possible surface touching. Do not sand into laminate yet.
  • Place some loose build-up sticks on cabinet. This will raise the countertop to its installed height.
  • In this example we are using kitchen cabinets that are 24" deep and standard kitchen countertop 25-1/2" wide. This leaves 1-1/2" of overhang
  • With countertop on cabinet and up against wall, measure overhang on front of countertop adjusting until you get an equal reading on both ends. Lets say that measurement is 1-5/8". That means the wall is bowed out 1/8". If you look at the back splash you will probably see that the back splash is only touching in one spot and there is a gap between wall and back splash everywhere else. The widest gap should be about 1/8" for this example.
  • Set a pencil compass to the widest distance 1/8" (Fig.3). Now without moving the countertop, set the point of the compass on the wall and the pencil on the back splash. Run the compass the entire length of the countertop and do ends also if countertop has end caps. This will transfer all the wall imperfections onto the back splash and capped ends of countertop.
  • Put countertop back on the saw horses laminate side up. Carefully sand the pine stick and laminate up to line, maintaining the angle sanded previously. If capped end needs to be sanded (Fig.4) sand at angle also. Remember to sand so the belt on the sander is cutting towards the pine stick, this will help eliminate chipping on laminate surface.
  • After scribing, put the countertop back on the cabinet again. Now look for any gaps. The countertop should fit much tighter to the wall. If you are satisfied with the result you are done. If not, repeat process taking off much smaller amounts of material.
  • Caulk is used to fill small gap and seal out moisture between wall and back splash (Fig.5).
  • Keep in mind that the front overhang will get smaller. You will probably end up with less than 1-1/2". This is OK as long as the nose of the countertop is parallel with front of cabinets. You will not notice the difference. You could notice the difference if the nose of the countertop was not parallel with the front of the cabinets.
  • When scribing there is a point at which you should stop. Sometimes walls can be so bad that there is no scribe left to take off.

Click on photos to enlarge.

Photo of a Porter Cable 3 X 21 belt sander.
Fig. 1

Photo showing the scribe stick of a countertop being sanded to an angle.
Fig. 2

Photo showing pencil compass set to widest gap.
Fig. 3

Photo showing end cap being scribed with a belt sander

Photo showing backsplash on countertop being caulked.








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