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jfair 07-13-2012 06:37 AM

Microwave oven recess
I have a microwave oven recess which happens to be on a boat but the old microwave has been disposed of. To install the smallest currently available oven I need 10 mm + clearance at the top. The "wood" is a laminate with a cherry finish. I have routers, jigsaw etc but I'm a bit cautious about chopping out a length of wood and exposing the substrate. I talked to a cabinet maker who declared the job too difficult if I want it to look perfect. I have also thought about replacement veneer, putting a grill over the gap at the top and other options. Your advice, please.

JulieMor 07-13-2012 07:54 AM

I'm not sure what you mean by "perfect". Are you talking about the finish of the wood after doing the cutout or making it look like the microwave was factory installed?

I don't see why you couldn't cut out the section needed to fit the microwave and then applying a cherry veneer to the edge. I'm assuming the depth of the micro at the top (I noticed your top hull easing in) isn't going to be a problem.

I would clamp a straight edge as a guide and shave off what's needed with a router. You could match the curve at the corners with the right diameter bit. You could then finish it off with a strip of cherry veneer. There are adhesive backed veneers that press on and ones that require heat activation. I use a standard household iron for doing that.

If you need, you could trim around the micro with strips of solid wood, such as if the depth of the micro is more that what you have. I did something like this on my dad's sailboat with teak. Everyone thought it was done at the factory.

I don't see why this couldn't be done with a very professional look when it's completed as long as you have decent woodworking and finishing skills. For me, the most time consuming part of a project like this would be matching the high gloss finish. High gloss shows every imperfection. You may want to ask about this over at Fine Woodworking.

BTW, what kind of boat is it?

jfair 07-13-2012 08:19 AM

microwave recess
Thanks for your comments. I think I'm just looking for confirmation that I should proceed and making sure I have examined all options. My woodworking skills are quite good but if I ever produce something that is "very good for an amateur" I have to dismantle it immediately. In this case there is no going back and having another go when I have made a cut. Also, the working conditions are less agreeable than a workshop. There's lots of room in the recess other than the clearance of the opening. The white area at the back of the recess is vinyl lining - it's bigger than it looks in the photo. The old microwave was deeper but had less height than a potential replacement.
The boat is a Four Winns 278 Vista, built in 2006, first launched in 2007 following transport to Australia. I bought it in late 2009.

wkearney99 07-13-2012 08:36 AM

Have you asked on a boat forum what other models might fit in the same space? You'd definitely need to consider the top/rear of the unit to make sure it's not too close to the hull above/behind it.

jfair 07-13-2012 08:57 AM

I've checked numerous boat forums and also caravan and RV sources. Many Four Winns boats of the same age have full size microwaves - it seems that as boats roll down a production line batches of supplies are used and many changes are made within a model year. My shore power is is 240 volts not 110 volts which narrows the market a bit. 12 volt microwaves with inverters are cost prohibitive - I do not have a generator to keep my batteries up. Our local stores have a range of small microwaves all a standard 10 mm too high for the opening. West Marine in the USA have a suitable 220 volt microwave in their catalogue, it's nearly $500, it's out of stock and I'm scared to ask what overseas shipping would be.
There's lots of room for a small domestic microwave once I get past the opening - the photo may be deceptive.

wkearney99 07-13-2012 12:57 PM

I've not looked into it, but what about using a 240 to 120 step-down? Or check whether the microwave units are dual-voltage.

But otherwise, the close quarters at the top of the cabinet add to the challenge of trying to get up there with a router, as that would probably be your safest tool for avoiding making a mess of the veneer. What's the distance from where the line would need to be extended to the top of the ceiling? If there's enough clearance then you might be able to fabricate a template that you clamped to the cabinet and use a router to smoothly cut out the necessary amount. Then you'd have to hot glue a fresh strip of laminate along the cut edge. There'd be a seam where the old/new laminate edge met, but that would be largely hidden by the microwave. The factory might even be able to inform you of the style of veneer they used. And there's likely a label up inside the cabinetry somewhere that lists the company that made it (local to the FW plant in Michigan).

BTW, I have a 2005 348 Vista.

COLDIRON 07-14-2012 12:53 PM

Make sure the micro you buy has the right venting made for that enclosure. Go ahead and rout it you can always use trim if there is imperfections. Ain't that why trim was invented?

jfair 07-21-2012 02:43 AM

Leaning over the sink while holding a router at head height proved tricky so I had a welder make an aluminium trim piece for me. The results are very good. I was planning to paint the aluminium but it has polished up well and matches other trim areas.

JulieMor 07-21-2012 07:23 AM

Looks nice! :thumbup:

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