Problem with wood counter top, heart slightly broken

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Forum topic by Nate_AM posted 02-23-2012 08:20 AM 5570 views 0 times favorited 96 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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16 posts in 2845 days

02-23-2012 08:20 AM

I just bought a house badly in need of a new kitchen, so I took the opportunity to get something I’ve wanted for a long time: wood counter tops. The vision that came to me included a decent single-hole faucet (easy to clean around and keep dry) and a stainless sink under-mounted in a fabulous wood counter top, waterloxed to the brim, that I could rub with a diaper monthly for the rest of my life.

Our contractor recommended a woodworker to me, who offered to custom build my counter tops in hard maple. We agreed on a small counter top around the sink for $600, and a 6×11 island for $2600. The $600 included cutting the hole for the sink and sanding every surface to a finish-ready state.

I asked him if he’d be comfortable cutting the three 1 3/8” holes for the faucet/sprayer/filter, and he readily obliged. On Friday he brought the counter top to the new house for sizing and to cut the holes, and before I left I noted with some consternation that he was using a paddle bit. I didn’t hover or offer advice, telling myself to trust a pro who clearly has unusual skill with hand drills.

Poor assumption. When I went back later I was greeted with this:

The tear-out will protrude from underneath the faucet’s 2” round escutcheon plate. That’s one problem. The other problem is that the holes are too big. The middle one is a little more than 1 1/2”, leaving less than 1/4” for the faucet gasket to seal, assuming the faucet is perfectly centered. And that seal ain’t happening anyway given the condition of the rim.

I notified our woodworker of my displeasure, and here was his response:

“I am sorry you feel this way but before I bought the drill bit I verified the size by measuring 4 or 5 sinks with predrilled faucet holes at home depot, they were 1 1/2”, I used a 1 1/2” drill bit. As far as the chip, maple is a very hard wood to work with and usually chips when you drill or cut it on the end grain. I can fill it, with a oil based product that will not dissolve with water, if you want.”

At this point I’d like to stop and just ask for opinions. What should I do? How should this be fixed?

96 replies so far

View Tyrone D's profile

Tyrone D

314 posts in 2892 days

#1 posted 02-23-2012 09:09 AM

That is unacceptable work for 2600 dollars.

See if you can find the chip lying around. You may be able to glue it back on.

-- --Tyrone - BC, Canada "Nothing is ever perfect, we just run out of time."

View patron's profile


13668 posts in 3900 days

#2 posted 02-23-2012 10:05 AM

get some aluminum or brass plate
and drill the right size holes in it
and caulk it well with silicone
clean up any ooze
and mount the faucet normal

there should be plenty of thread
for the holding flange nuts

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View canadianchips's profile


2632 posts in 3556 days

#3 posted 02-23-2012 12:21 PM

Do you have picture of faucets ?
Sorry to see that happen, it is fixable.
Go to a plumbing store and look for larger washers. If you have brass faucets use a brass washer.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View Don W's profile

Don W

19380 posts in 3126 days

#4 posted 02-23-2012 01:11 PM

First, the woodworker should resolve it. Saying maple is hard is not an excuse.

If you need to fix it I agree with David. You could also make a nice walnut or other nice piece to fit under the faucet set. Maybe even inlay it a bit if you want.

Its to bad, such a simple task. It doesn’t take a professional woodworker to drill a hole, even in maple. I wonder what that would look like if it was formica. Its hard to.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3633 days

#5 posted 02-23-2012 02:32 PM

First, if the customer says the holes should be 1 3/8”, the craftsman had no business cutting bigger holes.

Second, I don’t understand why the craftsman would not use a forstner bit.

Third, it looks like the craftsman would have had the option of drilling these holes on a drill press with the countertop securely clamped in place. I highly suspect these holes were drilled with a handheld drill. He (she) would have had much better results using a drill press, even if he (she) used paddle blades.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View dhazelton's profile


2839 posts in 2855 days

#6 posted 02-23-2012 02:33 PM

Wow. That looks like he drilled with the spade bit from the underside. Not nice. And he NEVER should have agreed to drill anything without actually having your faucet set on hand to measure. Just dumb.

I know you don’t want to hear it, but larger trim rings or a full length escutcheon seems to be the way to go now. For me making up your own trim plates out of stock will look jury rigged, so I’d call the manufacturer of the faucet and see what they have. You may have to return what you bought and get something different that can cover those boo boos.

It looks like the glueup and sink cutout are fine so I’d try to get past this and enjoy that wood.

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3867 days

#7 posted 02-23-2012 03:24 PM

I would never have used a paddle bit for drilling a clean hole…there are much better bits for this purpose.
have you already paid the carpenter in full? I would tell him I want a reduced price or ask him to re do it correctly.
Ask him how he will make it right.

View Danpaddles's profile


576 posts in 2871 days

#8 posted 02-23-2012 03:26 PM

I have an idea that fellow didn’t build the top, I think he just bought it glued up. Else, he never would have used a spade bit. And he would have probably drilled it in his shop, with a DP to guide location.

Given his hole- I wonder if he even did the sink cut out, it looks pretty good, but I think you can order them with the cutout in place.

How was the 6×11 top? that is a big hunk of wood. What equipment did he have that allowed him to build it?

Oil based filler? Bull sh$t. and those holes are supposed to be 1 7/16. Ref. attached drawing, from Kohler. I would not use an expended escutcheon, or a gap filling washer, in this case. New work needs to be done right, it is not like you are doing a fix-it job on rental property. For the kind of money you are investing, you deserve a new counter top from this guy.

I wonder if he took your measurements, turned around and handed them to a cabinet shop, then collected the big bucks from you.

You mention a contractor recommended this guy, if you have a contractor doing the rest of the kitchen, you can rattle his cage a little too, he may have pull with the counter(fit) woodworker.

All that aside-
Is Waterlox heat resistant? You might have to do more than wipe that counter with a diaper once a month.

-- Dan V. in Indy

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 3044 days

#9 posted 02-23-2012 03:42 PM

What really stands out to me is this quote, “maple is a very hard wood to work with and usually chips when you drill or cut it on the end grain”.

This clearly isn’t drilled into end grain, it’s on the long grain! What a miserable excuse. Not to mention, if you have enough awareness of the material you’re working with, you should know what precautions to take and what tools to use in order to avoid those problems!

If this guy wants to do shoddy work in his home because he’s ok with “good enough”, that’s his prerogative. But charging money for a half-assed job says to me that he doesn’t respect his own profession, much less his customers.

-- Brian Timmons -

View ShipWreck's profile


557 posts in 4312 days

#10 posted 02-23-2012 04:01 PM

What was that guy thinking? I hope you get it resolved Nate. It’s a shame because the top looks really nice otherwise.

View TexasJim's profile


86 posts in 3795 days

#11 posted 02-23-2012 07:05 PM

You hired a professional to provide a product at a given price. You have every right to expect good workmanship and a usable product. You should not have to fix hos mistakes or replace your chosen accessories with something else to cover up his mistakes. You need to stand your ground and insist on a replacement done right.

-- If the world was a logical place, men would be the ones who ride horses sidesaddle.

View Manitario's profile


2787 posts in 3442 days

#12 posted 02-23-2012 07:25 PM

I agree with what the others have said; this is unacceptable. We’ve all worked with hard maple, and yes, it chips if you aren’t careful or do something stupid like use a spade bit. Even pine chips out if you use a spade bit. This your counter that you paid him to do to your specs and if he messed it up, it is his issue, not yours to accept a crappy job and a half assed fix.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View canadianchips's profile


2632 posts in 3556 days

#13 posted 02-23-2012 07:58 PM

How many times have we just about finished a job and the last thing you do turns out ugly ? He may have drilled the other 2 holes, everything went well, the middle one, not so good.
I have looked on-line for a ferestner bit that is 1 7/16” diameter like danpaddles sketch calls for. I can find 1 3/8” and 1 1/2”————this makes me think the forestner bit isn’t the answer !
Make a sleeve over the treads to keep the faucet centered in the hole.
This item is $16.95 , it is made for this .
I know you wanted simple clean faucet, sometimes we have to readjust our plans.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View Nate_AM's profile


16 posts in 2845 days

#14 posted 02-23-2012 08:31 PM

Thank you all for the suggestions.

Just to be clear, he is charging about $3200 for the whole project; $600 for this small counter top and $2600 for the larger one on the island. I have paid all but about $600 dollars, which is due upon delivery of the island top, on which he is still working. I have not yet discussed this with my contractor who recommended him, but I’m willing to do that if we come to an impasse.

The faucet I bought is a Kohler Forte, but I could use any faucet. I really don’t want to use a full-length escutcheon because it will provide a large hidden area behind the faucet for water to pool. I might be willing to use a larger round trim ring, but I’ve never seen such a thing for kitchen faucets, and I haven’t the resources to make one myself.

I’m not inclined to accept a wood-putty repair from this guy. My main concerns are that, A.) eventually the patch will provide a path for water to seep underneath, regardless of the material or application, and B.) it doesn’t address the seating and sealing problems caused by the uneven rims around the oversized holes. Does this all make sense? Plus, I’m afraid it will look bad; his filler work in the butt-seams and a couple other repairs is mediocre.

Don W, I like your inlay idea. A woodworking friend of mine offered essentially the same suggestion: route a recess around all the holes, maybe 1/4” or 1/2” deep, and inlay a piece of wood flush. There isn’t a lot of space back there, but it seems that an inlay of 18” x 2.5” would be a fairly simple job (those holes are spaced 8” on center).

Is it reasonable to ask this guy to do the inlay? If he refuses, what might it cost to have someone else do such a thing?

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5234 posts in 4519 days

#15 posted 02-23-2012 08:43 PM

Nate, I’d be havin’ this fool for lunch. A major screw up like that is unacceptable. End of discussion. Replace, and tell him to go AWAY without any compensation. Yeah! I’m a harda$$, but your top has been screwed. You’ll always be concerned about degradation no matter what “fix” is used.
Some people should not be allowed to own tools.

-- [email protected]

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