Ask any stone fabricator what step in the fabrication process is most important, and you will get many different answers. However, I feel the most important step is constructing the proper template. The reason for this is simple. If your template is wrong, and every other part of the fabrication process is perfect, the whole job will be a wash because the templating process was not performed properly. Regardless of whether you’re dealing with 2cm or 3cm material, there are some guidelines that must be followed in order to make sure you can template properly. The following checklist has conditions that need to be met before you run out to the job to construct the template.
Every item below has to be completed and checked out.
• Actual sizes of slabs and quantity have to be available at time of templating, and should have been purchased in advance.
• Unsupported overhangs shall not exceed 6 in. on ¾-in. countertops or 10 in. for 1¼-in. countertops. In an overhang condition, the supported area must be firmly secured and properly anchored to ensure that the unsupported area will not cause failure of the setting material. If the overhang exceeds maximum amounts, the cabinetmaker or builder must add proper brackets, legs or other rigid support.
• Arches and radii are easily made with luan strips. Place the strips on end to construct the template. This will give you a perfect arch which makes it easy to trace onto the stone for cutting. A templater may sometimes forget to mark the inside radius, for this I suggest placing a small strip of luan and marking it.
• Cabinetry is installed on a true plane and level to within 1⁄8 in. in 10 ft. Areas to receive the slab are stable and rigid and capable of supporting the weight of the slab. Stone counters and rough tops rely on the strength of the cabinets and that the cabinets are secure.
• Reinforcement may be required in areas in front of cutouts to ensure that they can adequately carry the weight of the stone without flexing.
• Counter and horizontal surfaces to receive the slab have rough top preinstalled. 5⁄8-in. thick plywood, (between 9⁄16 to 11⁄16 in. is acceptable), installed flush with cabinet face si recommended unless noted otherwise. We recommend waterproof exterior grade (CDX) or marine plywood be used.
• Rough top plywood is installed true, plane and level, variation not to exceed 1⁄8 in. over a 10-ft. span.
• Rough top has been inspected for lippage. There should be no lippage greater than 1⁄16 in. (Lippage is a condition, which occurs when adjacent plywood edges are not flush with one another.)
• All cutouts have been made and are complete.
• Rough top is secured and properly anchored, free of dirt, dust, oil, paint or other coatings that may prevent bonding of the slab to the rough top.
• All actual sinks are mounted, but not hooked up to plumbing. The sinks may be taken to the shop for exact templating.
• The sink is mounted flush with the rough top.
• The sink has adequate support.
NOTE: I am starting to see a lot of countertops cracking because the sink is anchored to the stone. The sink should be supported by the cabinets and not the stone.
• All actual sinks are cut in place, but not hooked up to plumbing.