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I'm replacing my 42-year-old drop-in stove but can't afford to replace it with a drop-in, so I'm replacing it with a free-standing stove.

I know I need to cut out the cabinet baseboard and a strip of the countertop at the rear of the existing stove. Unfortunately, I can't cut a straight line with a hand saw to save my life. I suppose I could hire someone, but that would defeat the purpose of saving money on the stove, and I'd like to learn to do it myself anyway.

What's the most foolproof way to cut out the cabinets and countertop correctly so they don't look terrible? Specifically, what tools, guides, etc., should I use? Also, what, if anything, will be needed afterward to make the modification look good after the job is done?

  • Pictures would help with an answer. – bib Dec 17 '14 at 17:41
  • I'm not at home right now but it's a pretty standard drop-in stove setup. The oven is against a wall, not in an island. Wood cabinets and '70s harvest gold laminate countertop on both sides. Metal trim at corners. I don't recall for certain, but I think there's about a 4" tall backsplash running the entire length of the countertop. If I remember I'll try to add a photo later. – rob Dec 17 '14 at 17:57
  • I forgot to mention there's also a recessed toe-kick at the bottom, but I think that's pretty standard too. – rob Dec 17 '14 at 17:59
  • Is this a laminate, tile, stone, or what - counter? If laminate - use jig saw and don't cut up to your line. Finnish up with belt sander and 40 or 80 grit paper - make sure direction of paper it down so laminate does not chip off the base material. – Chileab Construction Dec 19 '14 at 9:54
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Assuming there are vertical side-cabinet panels at the areas you want to cut out (ie, you won't be leaving a section of countertop or shelves hanging in mid-air) and that the countertop is a laminate over wood(-ish), then a handheld circular saw can make the bulk of the cuts, with a jigsaw to get the back corners. You can screw a straight piece of wood to the area that's coming out to act as a saw guide. Keep the saw tight against the guide as you cut, and that'll be as straight as the guide is.

Now to make it nice-looking, you have a few options. Big box home improvement stores will sell an end-cap of laminate that matches the countertops they sell, it can be glued on with contact cement, assuming it matches your counter. If they don't have one that matches your counter in color, check to see if they have one that will match your new stove. (It's not great, but it's better than bare wood.)

Home improvement stores will also sell a strip of flanged plastic or metal that is meant to cover the gap between the countertop and the stove (I believe one company calls it a 'crumb guard').

  • I forgot to mention, but the bottom toe-kick area of the cabinets is recessed so it may be difficult or impossible to get a circular saw or jigsaw flush with the side of the cabinet. Does that make sense? Maybe it's not as deep as I think; I'll have to check if the blade reaches. Also is there any particular blade or technique you'd recommend for cutting the laminate countertop without chipping it? Or is that not really a problem? – rob Dec 17 '14 at 18:04
  • Well, that depends on the cabinetry construction. You may have to switch to something like a reciprocating saw with a long blade, or.. gasp a hand saw :) There are blades specifically meant for laminate and/or countertops, but they can be pricey. A 'fine' blade for a circular saw will give decent results- especially if you know you're going to be covering the gap. Go slow and don't wobble the saw. – TX Turner Dec 17 '14 at 18:14
  • It helps to cut something like a laminate counter top from the bottom, so the saw blade teeth don't tear it out. Also, cover the cut line in blue painter's tape. – Doresoom Dec 17 '14 at 19:55
  • If it were a piece of countertop alone, sure, cut it from below. Kind or hard to do when the countertop is still installed. Good tip on the tape though, I completely forgot about that. – TX Turner Dec 17 '14 at 20:47

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