How To Cut A Butcher Block Countertop For A Sink

How To Cut A Butcher Block Countertop For A Sink

Wood countertops were previously shunned, cast to the side as a less-than-sanitary option. However, nowadays, folks are learning the merits of wood countertops. Aside from the warm, homey touch they add to a space; they are easy to maintain and aren’t unsanitary (as long as you install them right). 

To avoid issues with moisture and water damage in the wood, there are a few steps you need to follow. So, if you’re installing a kitchen sink in your butcher block countertops, we’re here to walk you through the dos and don’ts. 

Can You Do An Undermount Sink With Butcher Block Countertops?

Absolutely, you can install an undermount sink with butcher block countertops. Since the sides of the wood will be exposed, you need to seal it properly and make a clean cut (since it’ll be on full display). 

The process is a bit more involved with an undermount sink than with a drop-in sink, but it’s certainly doable. 

How To Install A Sink In A Butcher Block Countertop

Cutting a hole in butcher block counters for a sink isn’t difficult – it’s certainly doable, even if you aren’t an experienced woodworker. However, you will need to follow a few careful steps to ensure the countertop is protected after you make the cut. 

Here are the steps you need to follow. If you already know what you need to do and only need help with the cutting portion, jump to the cutting section. For this project, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Beeswax
  • Mineral oil
  • Clear silicone
  • Masking tape or painter’s tape
  • Drill
  • Jigsaw blade
  • Sandpaper 

Seal And Tape The Countertop

Before you start, you need to protect the countertop. Beeswax and mineral oil are the most popular choices to protect the butcher block, and they don’t form a solid coating like varnish, urethane, or shellac. 

When installing the sink, especially a drop-in sink, you might accidentally ding the wood as you set it into place. The placement marks can also scar the wood, so it doesn’t hurt to protect the countertop where the sink will go with masking or painter’s tape. 

Place a few rows of tape around where the cut will go. Then, you can make your marks on top of the tape, make your cuts, then peel off the tape before placement. Of course, you should seal the cut edges of the wood before you place the sink. 

Use a thick layer of clear silicone over the edges of the sink cutout before placing the sink. Then, you’ll add a bead of silicone around the bottom lip of the sink before you drop it into the opening. 

Mark The Cutout

Your next step is to mark the area where you want the sink to sit. If you’re installing a drop-in sink, the cutout will be narrower than the broadest part of the sink, including the lip. The rim needs something to sit on, so the cutout should be just big enough to fit the sink basin through. 

Undermount sinks can be trickier, as your cutting skills will be fully displayed. If you’re not confident in your cutting abilities, we recommend enlisting the help of a professional. That way, you won’t end up wasting wood due to a faulty or jagged cutout. 

Generally, kitchen sinks are centered over the width of the base cabinet. Of course, you can align the sink however you’d like, but make sure there will be plenty of support for the sink. 

You’ll want to install the sink straight and even, so mark the center of the base cabinet (if you want to center the sink) on the countertop. This can be tricky since you can’t see through the wood, so the easiest way to find the center is to mark the left and right edges of the cabinet on the front edge of the wood. Then, move those marks to the top of the counter and use them to mark the center. 

Draw a straight line (use a straight edge) marking the center across the entire countertop, from the backsplash to the front edge. This will make the alignment process much more manageable. Most sinks need about 1 ½ inches of space between the back edge of the sink and the backsplash. 

Remember to take note of the plumbing beneath your sink. Sometimes, the plumbing is in an unusual location, so you’ll have to get creative with placement. 

The process will be much easier if you have a cutout template for the sink. You can trace the perimeter of the cutout on your countertop. Before you do that, though, make sure you double-check it works with the sink you have. 

There’s no need to worry if you don’t have a template. Mark the center points on all four sides of the sink lip, which will make aligning the sink with the center marks on the countertop much easier. Turn the sink upside down for a rough perimeter. 

When you turn the sink upside down to trace the perimeter, remember not to cut the hole precisely on those lines. The lip will need somewhere to rest, so you’ll need to make the cutout slightly smaller. 

Make The Cut

DEWALT 20V MAX XR Jig Saw, Tool Only (DCS334B)

With the placement marked, you’re ready to make the cut. Before cutting the wood, drill a few holes inside the cutting outline. This will allow you to fit the jigsaw blade inside the cut line. Before making the holes, check the diameter of the drill bit against the width of the jigsaw blade. 

If the drill bit is too small, the jigsaw blade won’t fit into the opening. So, ensure the bit is big enough to create a hole into which the blade will fit. Once you drill the holes, insert the jigsaw blade into the wood. Make sure you use a new wood blade on the jigsaw for the cleanest cut. 

As you begin cutting, don’t force the saw ahead. This can cause the blade to bend, which will lead to crooked cuts. To start, cut one side of the opening, then move to the opposite side. 

Once the opposite sides are cut, do the same on the following two sides. Before cutting the last side, place something underneath the wood or have a helper hold the section. If you don’t support the wood cutout and make the last cut all at once, the weight of the falling piece of wood can break off shortly after you finish, potentially damaging the countertop. 

So, be careful as you make your cuts. Don’t rush through the process; take your time. You may find cutting toward the corners more manageable than trying to start from the corners. 

After you finish cutting the hole, remove the tape (if you used it). Clean up the edges of the cutout with sandpaper. If you’re installing an undermount sink, ensure the edges are crisp, clean, and smooth, as they’ll be on full display once you finish installing the sink.

Install The Sink

After you finish cutting, you can install the sink. If you took the countertop out of your kitchen to cut the hole (or maybe you haven’t installed it yet), reinstall the countertop. Install the sink according to the manufacturer’s directions. 

If you’re installing a drop-in sink, remember to protect the exposed cut edges with clear silicone. Then, apply a bead of silicone around the cutout, where the lip of the sink will rest. Set the sink into place, then wipe away the silicone that squeezes out from underneath the sink. 

If you’re installing an undermount sink, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions. Heavier undermount sinks may need additional support underneath the countertop, so install the correct support, so you don’t stress the countertop. Some undermount sinks can be installed with a two-part epoxy adhesive, while others require clips or brackets. 

Check with the manufacturer’s recommendations for your particular sink. Make sure you seal the exposed edges of the sink before you install the sink. Seal the entire surface of the countertop, both top and bottom (anywhere that moisture could get). 

With undermount sinks, you might want to use a router bit to round the sharp edges of the countertop. Of course, this is entirely up to you, but it might make for a more comfortable experience while washing dishes or otherwise using the sink. 

Finishing Touches

After installing the sink, you just have a few steps left before you have a fully functioning sink. Install the faucet and drain assembly, then hook the drain assembly to the plumbing beneath the sink. Attach the water supply lines to the shut-off valves. 

Once everything is done, and the silicone sealant is cured and waterproof, turn the water supply on and check your handiwork. Look for leaks or areas that could be a problem and address them as necessary.