Step 17: The Top, Interlude - Fixing a Mistake
When gluing the oak edges on the MDF, I made a mistake. On the back side, the edging was positioned too low, which would leave a noticeable gap when the MDF and the countertop were joined. I was determined to fix it.
Either of the strips I'd ripped from the oak countertop to remove the factory bevel looked like it would work, if I could figure out how to rip them safely with a circular saw.
I ended up using a couple of strips of MDF and a bar clamp to create a clamp that would hold the strip of oak, and had a profile low enough to fit under the cutting guide.
Once I had the strip cut, I glued it in place, and clamped everything up.
I'd intentionally made it oversize, intending to trim it flush. Trimming is a little more complicated than usual, because I needed to trim it flush on two faces. The end face extended a good 3/8", so I cut off most of the excess with a circular saw and the edge guide, then flipped the edge guide upside down to make a stable platform for the router. Aside from the use of the edge guide, flush trimming the edge face was unremarkable.
For trimming the top face, I again stood the panel vertically, with the router base riding on the top edge, and the bit cutting on the far side of the panel. Because I was cutting on the back edge of the work piece, I needed to move the router from right to left. And here I ran into another problem.
The gap in the edging that I was filling was not of even depth. On the left end it was about 3/16" deep, on the right end the edging was flush with the MDF, and there was no gap. That means that on the right side, I was routing away all of the strip I had glued in. The result was significant tear-out.
I did what I always do when faced with this sort of gumption trap - I turned off the router, set it down, and walked away for a bit. I've found that whatever action I take in the frustration of dealing with something that hadn't worked right is almost always the wrong one, and usually makes things worse.
What I did, when I came back, was to clamp down the strip where it had torn away, and then to start routing from the other end. I still moved the router from right to left, but I did it in six-inch sections, taking light passes, and sort of whittled the strip flush. As the sections I was working were farther to the right, the strip was thinner. Eventually I came to where I was trimming the strip away entirely, at which point I took off the clamps and the remainder fell away.
A better solution would have been to route a rabbet into the side, so that the added strip always had thickness. The way I did it means that the strip I glued in is very narrow, and hence very weak, at a certain point. In this case, that's not a problem, because it's going to be sitting under the countertop layer. I also noticed that because I had only clamped the strip down, and not into the edge, there was a noticeable glue gap where the strip butted up against the MDF. Again, in this application it isn't visible. But if I was doing something like this on the top of a table, I'd make sure to cut a clean rabbet, and to clamp both down and in.