With the fridge finally in place, I have a firm ‘wall’ to start to build the kitchen in. I knew for sure that the counter would be at the level of the base of the windows so that we wouldn’t lose visibility, but the actual arrangement of drawers and storage/access cabinets would depend on placement of other things, like the stove and the sink. If you look on the original floorplan, you can see that there’s a whole lot of potential counter space where things could go.
The stove was easy to place, as my plan was to put it at one of the ’emergency’ windows that can be swung out and give lots of good ventilation if we need it. As there are two such windows along the counter (colored red in the floorplan diagram), the stove could have gone along either one, but putting it along the fore window would give more ‘working space’ around the sink, which is fairly important when washing dishes and such. And since we actually had the stove, I could place it so much more precisely than in the floorplan where there’s essentially a 24″ x 28″ space for the (three burner – ha!) stove.
The sink was a more dicey matter in terms of placement. The window closest to the fridge is ‘sticky’ – there are some scratches in the aluminum frame, and it can make the window hard to close (at least form the inside). My original thought was to put it right in front of that window near the fridge to maximize the available counterspace between the sink and stove, but being able to have fresh air while doing dishes ranks highly, so the sink may move closer. Actually doing the placement is going to wait until we ‘play’ with the space for a bit. I had hoped to do this on one last camping trip of the Sprague Brook season, but it just never came to be.
The first thing I did was take measurements and figure out the placement of the stove. I was planning for a 24″ deep stove,since I kept seeing that come up as a dimension for newer stoves, but ours is only about 20″ deep, leaving about 4 inches of counter behind it. And while the window comes out to be more than 24″ wide, the stove is only 21″ wide, and that measurement (like the depth) includes 1/2″ of overlap of the trim.
This gave me some concrete information to work with in making the countertop. While I’ve seen lots of people using some of the pre-made household counters in their skoolies, my wife had shown me an article on how to build a counter that gave the look of thick oak planks and we both liked the look. However, the idea of having beveled edges between the planks seemed to just be an invitation to a continually dirty counter. So as a compromise, I had decided to use oak to make a counter, with no beveled edges, and as few seams as possible.
It turned out that I had just enough oak in two almost 13″ wide by 1 1/8″ thick planks that, when planed down and jointed, came out to the right length for the counter from fridge-wall to side-facing seat. These pieces were fixed together with the Kreg pocket-jig and some 1 1/4″ fine-thread screws.
Even with some bowing in the plank, which was fixed with clamps, screwed, and sanded down to fit where the stove would go.
In order to support the counter without actually having counters underneath it, I decided to build in some 2×3″ supports that would hold it up, and just fit the sides of the stove, with allowances for 1/2″ plywood on the inside of the enclosure to help support it. The 2×3″ supports that attached to the wall rest upon a 2×4″ that is screwed into the wall supports. I used more pocket screws to attach the horizontal supports to the 2×4″ and then attached the vertical supports to the 2×3″ that was attached to the floor. The 2×4″ was attached to the wall at a height that would put the 7/8″ thick counter just below the level of the windows allowing for a 3/4-1″ oak backsplash to be added at a later time.
One additional support at the fridge wall and another toward the seat edge, though the one near the seat is back about 10″ so that I could put a small lower drawer and upper ‘bin’ at seat height that would have nice storage space for passengers and the counter above it.
With this all set, I stained the counter and slid it into place, checking the fitting and adjusting the ‘square’ of the stove structural fittings before using more pocket screws to sink things into place. A 3/4×1 1/2″ edging was affixed to the counter after being rounded with a router and the stove was set in place (the edging had to come up to the trim of the stove. This was also affixed from underneath with pocket screws.
I had considered leaving the leading corner of the counter as a 90 degree angle, but thought that it would present too much of a chance for a bruise in the close quarters with several people on the bus. Toward that end, I decided to trim the corner and make it a simple 45 degree angle, which was easy to work with for the trim.
With the counter in place as it is, it looks like a lot of space, though we’ll need to decide where the sink will go, and I was expecting to put in a full size sink as opposed to the RV sink that we salvaged from the trailer. The salvaged sink is stainless steel and in decent shape, but it’s only 4 or 5 inches deep. A standard kitchen sink is around 9 inches deep, and a double sink that deep could easily have one side filled with hot water and suds to wash and then use the other side to rinse and thus conserve water while still doing a full set of dishes for four or six people.
One of my concerns right now is that the 29″ height that the counter is at (the bottom of the windows) may be a bit low to be comfortable tpo work at for long periods of time since most counters are at about 35″ height. That said, I do make cookies and bracciole at our kitchen table and it’s only about 29″ tall, so … time will tell.