Creating Wood Countertop Edges

Lead Image
  • 4-8 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 100-750
What You'll Need
Sanding block
Finishing nails
Finishing hammer
Wood putty
Paint or stain
Miter box
Fine tooth saw
Wood glue
Power drill
Small drill bit

Countertop edges, new or old, will often need a piece of trim to dress up the counter or to hide cracks, unwanted marks, or gouges on the countertop edges. New wood countertops may also show unfinished edges of MDF (medium-density fiberboard) or other edges that might look unsightly—even when finished. With care, even an inexperienced craftsman can create an attractive wood edge on a countertop. The information herein will help you to install your countertop edge yourself.

Step 1 – Measure the Countertop

You'll most likely need to cut trim pieces if you buy them in standard lengths. Use a measuring tape on your countertop edge to find the length of trim you'll need. An optional method to make sure you cut your trim the right size is to hold a piece of trim against the countertop edge, with the backside of the trim facing you. Use the point of a sharp pencil to mark the place on the trim to cut. Save time by marking all the pieces you'll need before you begin cutting.

Step 2 – Cut the Trim Pieces

You'll need your trim piece ends cut on a true 90-degree angle. Otherwise, the pieces that will be connected end-to-end will have a gap between them that you'll need to fill with wood putty. To get a true angle end cut, set your miter box for a 90-degree cut. Place a fine-tooth saw in your miter box slot. Insert the trim in the miter box, upside down and backside facing you. This will help avoid creating splinters and uneven edges on the trim when it is cut. Line up the outside edge of your saw teeth with the mark you made on your trim piece and cut through the trim. Use this same procedure to cut all your pieces before attaching them.

Step 3 – Finish the Trim Pieces

Use a sanding block and sandpaper to smooth all the trim ends that have been cut. Brush sawdust and other debris from the trim. Apply primer to the trim, including ends that will be exposed. When the primer is dry, apply paint or varnish of your color choice, then allow it to dry. If necessary, apply an additional coat of paint or varnish.

Step 4 - Attach the Trim

Use a drill and a bit that is smaller in diameter than the finish nails you'll be using, and drill guide holes in the trim pieces where you'll be driving nails. If you don't have a small bit, place a small finish nail into the chuck of your drill and use it as a bit to drill your guide holes. Drilling these guide holes will prevent the trim from splitting when you drive the nails through it.

Using your finish hammer, insert small finish nails through the guide holes and into the countertop edge. With your nailset and hammer, drive the nailheads below the trim surface. Fill nailhead holes with putty that is the color of your trim finish. When the putty is dry, sand it smooth.