Perfect Alcove-Fit Countertops

In my finish carpentry work, it’s not uncommon to have to fit a countertop into an alcove that’s badly out-of-square. That’s when I turn to a pattern-transfer trick that I learned from an old carpenter.

First, screw temporary ledger strips to the alcove walls 34" below the height of the desired countertop. Then cut a piece of 34"-thick plywood to the depth of the alcove and somewhat shy of the three walls. Place the plywood on the ledger strips, and tape a large piece of paper to it. Next, cut a point on the end of a stick of wood and mark one face as “up.” Place the point of this transfer stick against each corner of the alcove in turn, and trace the outline of the stick onto the paper.

Remove the paper and tape it to your oversized countertop material. Position the stick inside each set of traced lines, and make a mark at the point onto your material. Connect the points with a straightedge, and you’ve got the shape of your top. If a wall isn’t flat, scribe and fit a cardboard template against it, then use the template instead of a straightedge to connect the points.

Sam Williamson, Birmingham, Alabama

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