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How to Make a Joint to Put a Countertop Together

By Wade Shaddy

Things Needed

  • Poplar lumber, 3/4 by 2 by 18 inches
  • Wood glue
  • Cordless drill
  • Drill bit, 3/16 inch
  • Phillips tip
  • 8 wood screws, 1 1/2 inch
  • Safety glasses
Use a glue cleat to join two countertops.

When installing kitchen cabinets, you must cut oddly sized countertop pieces. Rather than using a single large piece of plywood in one continuous piece, you must splice it. The joint requires the strength to support years of working in the kitchen, and you must create a laminate splice near the same location to secure the joint. Cabinet makers use a common joint when putting cabinet tops together: the simple glue cleat joint.

Place the two countertop pieces you plan to join together into place where you can nail them down.

Slide one piece of the countertop over far enough so you can stick your hand between the two pieces.

Pick up the poplar. Run a heavy bead of glue onto one of the broad sides, and smear it to cover the entire side. Hold the poplar with your right hand with the glue side up. Insert it down between the two pieces of countertop, parallel and underneath the edge of one of the countertop pieces.

Stick the poplar to to the bottom edge of the countertop piece, parallel with the edge, but leaving a 1-inch lip extending out from under the edge of the countertop. (You will rest the other piece of countertop atop this lip.)

Hold the poplar with one hand while using a drill and 3/16-inch bit to drill four holes along the edge down through the countertop, stopping when you hit the poplar. Insert four screws into the holes and, using your drill with a Phillips tip, screw the poplar to the countertop.

Slide the other piece of countertop over, and butt it into the first piece on top of the 1-inch lip of poplar. Drill four holes along the edge. Insert screws, and use your drill and Phillips tip to screw the countertop down to the poplar.

Tip

Apply more glue to the poplar joint after you screw one side on if it dries too quickly.

Cut your poplar cleat to any size that optimizes your joint.

Warning

Always wear safety glasses when working with wood.

About the Author

Specializing in hardwood furniture, trim carpentry, cabinets, home improvement and architectural millwork, Wade Shaddy has worked in homebuilding since 1972. Shaddy has also worked as a newspaper reporter and writer, and as a contributing writer for Bicycling Magazine. Shaddy began publishing in various magazines in 1992, and published a novel, “Dark Canyon,” in 2008.