In planning for the renovation of our kitchen, we knew that we wanted a country style. One of the icons of a country kitchen is the farm sink. These sinks and the necessary hard surface counter to go with them can be costly, so we tried to reduce costs in every other way we could by doing the work ourselves, waiting for a sale on cabinets, and buying lower-end appliances. The sink and counter top were our splurge. There are many different types of farm house sinks, made of a variety of materials. We chose a single basin apron front sink made of fireclay.
An apron front sink doesn't fit in a standard sink base cabinet that has the drawer facades at the top. It requires a special cabinet that has shorter doors and more height above them. This front "apron" has to be cut out to the shape of the sink.
First he removed the doors and built a support structure for the sink inside the cabinet. I'll provide more details about this support structure later in the post.
Next he made a template for cutting out the opening for the sink. He turned the sink on its side, laid a large piece of thin cardboard on its front, bending the cardboard around the edges. He drew the shape of the sink front on the cardboard and cut it out with scissors.
(I need to mention at this point that you need to plan ahead for whether you want the top edge of your sink to be level with the counter surface, be raised higher than the counter surface, or be set under the edges of the counter surface. Your option effects the placement of the template on the cabinet front. We decided we wanted our sink to be installed under the edges of the counter top, so the top of the sink template needed to be lined up even with the top of the cabinet.)
He traced the template onto the cabinet front. Then he outlined the tracing with blue tape that was easy to follow as a guide and protected the finish of the wood when cutting.
He turned the cabinet onto its back to cut out the apron. The bottom edge of the cut-out will be very narrow and, therefore, weak. To stabilize it and prevent it from breaking, he clamped it to a thicker board while cutting. He used a scroll saw with a laser guide to cut out the apron.
We turned the cabinet upright and set the sink onto the support structure. Using a rotary rasp attached to a drill, he filed the edges of the cut-out, smoothing and evening it out. Periodically during this filing, we slid the sink forward to test the fit. This next point is critical: you want the fit to be close but not so tight that the sink is actually touching the cut-out and putting stress on the cabinet. If you end up with too much gap, you can always fill it in with caulk.
Now about the support structure (which was built and placed inside the cabinet before the cut-out was made): These sinks are very heavy and need a strong structure to support them. The installation instructions that came with our sink and anything we could find online said to "build a support structure inside the cabinet," but we found very little in the way of directions for how to do that. We had to figure it out on our own.
In essence, it was like building a little table inside the cabinet. He used 2x4's to make legs, side and top supports and a 3/4" thick board for the "table top," wide enough to support the sink but leaving room at the back for the plumbing to fit down through. The height of the support structure is determined by figuring out what the total height of your sink installation will be (according to the options mentioned five paragraphs above) and allowing for the height of the sink itself.
Not visible in this photo: so that the cabinet floor is not bearing the weight of the heavy farm sink, he built in additional support underneath the cabinet by placing 2x4s along the sides, resting on the floor beneath the "table legs."
Since we had decided we wanted our sink to be installed under the edge of the counter, he had to set the sink level with the top edge of the cabinet, and he had planned for the height of the support structure accordingly. He used shims under the legs of the support structure to level the top of the sink with the top of the cabinet. This should be as precise as possible.
Once it was set level, he screwed the sides of the cabinet to the support structure. (Our sink base was being installed between other cabinets, so the sides were unfinished.) Once the support structure was screwed into place, the sink could be removed while the cabinet was installed in the kitchen. It's ready to go!
This photo shows the inside of the sink base cabinet after it was installed and plumbed into the kitchen. As a design option, we pulled our sink forward 2" beyond the front of the cabinet. A circular hole was cut into the "table top" for the drain to be set in. The doors and toe kick board have been attached. We also bought feet (called "buns") to attach to the bottom of the base cabinet to give it the look of a piece of furniture.
The design of our support structure leaves room for some storage inside the cabinet.
We had the quartz counter top installed by the manufacturer. In this photo you can see how the counter sits on top of the sink edge and how the sink extends 2" beyond the cabinet fronts. We placed some sink grids inside the sink to protect it from scratching.
Here's a photo of the finished installation. All of the cabinets we bought for our kitchen are the same style. However, we ordered the sink base in Red Oak and used different hardware for the door pull so that the sink would become a focal point in the kitchen. After all, it was our splurge!