As we have mentioned previously, our kitchen had a couple of issues we wanted to improve-- primarily this nook with a little extended shelf that the previous owners used to hold a TV above a fold out table with chairs for eat-in kitchen dining.
Then we clarified that request with more pictures and diagrams in this post.
We tallied the votes and formulated our plan: make the nook into a drink station. Beer/wine/dr. pepper/capri-sun fridge below, coffee pot, french press, tea pot, hot water pot etc. above.
We enlisted the help of Jeff and got him to take the excess length off of the former TV shelf, making it a regular old cookbook shelf. That was November. And then we did nothing for months. Well okay, there were all those other projects.
Actually, our next focus was the island. There was nothing really wrong with the island in the middle of our kitchen.. well let's go ahead and refer to Alli's diagram again:
So, nothing wrong with the island, but there is a lot of unused blue space over there on the right by our nook (nook unlabeled, but it's on the right in red), and our kitchen didn't have a ton of counter space- which again is why we thought the drink station was a good idea. So in line with creating our drink station, we also thought we would extend the island and create a little tiny seating area for a couple stools. And that plan worked at least in our heads, because we figured we'd get a new countertop for the island and reuse the blue Corian in our drink nook. This way, we'd have a consistent counter style around the perimeter and something catchy in the middle.
We did a bit of pricing, and essentially, to do this tiny little island we were looking at $1000+
And so of course Alli turned to Pinterest and the blogosphere. Butcher block countertops, DIY. We were sold.
Alli found a good deal at a place here called Southeastern Salvage (a place with all kinds of random goodies) on 10' x 26" x 1" pieces of unfinished butcher block for $150. We purchased one January 7th. They weren't all in fantastic shape, but Jeff and I sorted through a pile and picked out a favorite. Some were bowed, most had some cracking apart of the individual boards at the ends, but we only needed ~66" of good wood, so this was okay.
Here is the original wood:
Before I jump too far ahead, the stack of wood came with warnings to bring it home and place weight evenly across the entire surface on another flat surface for at least 3 days before installing/working with. I borrowed some very heavy particle board table tops from Jeff and followed the rules. (foreshadowing.)
Next, I made some gnarly cuts with my dremel sawmax (not really meant to cut through wood this thick, so I had to cut from the top and then from the bottom)- just to get it to a more manageable size and get rid of split ends:
After completing our 3 day flat-weighting of the butcher block, I was noticing that it still wanted to bow up in the middle if I left it unweighted. And even though I'd cut away the splitting ends, something about acclimating to our house made these start to creep back in.
Based on the internet's wisdom, we'd decided to finish our countertop with Waterlox. This is a tung oil-based finish that is meant to maintain a somewhat natural look to the wood (not that thick clear lacquer of a bar table), yet be easy to clean and maintain, and once cured, food and baby safe.
Part of my problem with the wood flexing and splitting was that I didn't move right on into this finishing process- mostly because you can't buy waterlox at home depot, or lowe's, or most anywhere. You can buy it online and pay shipping, but I did finally find it at a small local place (listed on Waterlox's website) --So another $80 on finish (2 kinds).
We wanted less gloss, so we started with their original sealer/finish- 3... maybe 4, coats. We also figured this would halt any further wood warping in its tracks until we could get to the next stage. That may have been true, the verdict is somewhat out.
Anyway at this point the wood is already getting gorgeous-er:
So I started to feel a little less pressure to move right on to the next step, because with the table sealed from moisture (supposedly at least), the cracking and warping should have been done.
Jeff had some great ideas for how to take this countertop up a notch. First, some plywood attached on the bottom. We figured this served a few purposes: thicken the countertop up (most countertops more like 1.5"), give it a firm surface to help keep it nice and flat and prevent any more potential warping, and also give us more material to screw into when we eventually attached it to the cabinets underneath.
So we bought a ~1/2" piece of plywood, cut it down to size, liberally applied wood glue, attached, and then screwed the two pieces together for good measure:
Again, I was feeling better about the shape of the wood. I left it flat in our guest room for some time, and then at some point we had guests, and I decided to just stand it up in the closet to be out of the way. I left it there for probably 4 days. And the warping returned. In fact, it was pretty bad-- laying it down on my floor, I could fit a whole finger underneath it in the middle, and I kind of think the plywood was the main culprit. Apparently wood warps because of uneven drying, and since the butcher block was moisture-sealed, the likely bad guy was the plywood. Ugh. So I got to work trying to flatten it back out. I tried just weight-- the particle board tabletop from before-- but that didn't do a ton. The internet suggested placing it over a giant drum of water placed over a fire, so the water would steam and moisture would really get in there. Rewet, reflatten, re-dry. I didn't have a drum or bonfire handy, but some smaller projects suggested ironing wet towels/t-shirts. Why not?
After a good bit of this hot ironing, I stacked the particle board tabletops, and then I stacked everything I could get a hold of that seemed weighty. I used every bit of beer-brewing paraphernalia filled to the brim with water, my cooler, all of our biggest books, everything. And, it kinda worked over time. I flipped the butcherblock/plywood block over every once in a while and put the weight on the other side. I think I re-ironed once. Progress was made. This was somewhere in the March-April range. I took a number of pictures of this crazy setup, but I have no idea where they got to. I must have deleted them to make room for videos of Hamish singing.
So we'll just move on. When we finally felt good enough about the flatness of the wood, we planed off the extra plywood (we left extra around the edges so there'd be plenty while we glued):
We knew the countertop was not perfectly flat, so we left this edging too wide; then we could plane it back down to the table edge and match any hills and valleys better.
Next step was gluing that walnut edge on. First on the long edges, one at a time.
And then the short edges (we had to buy some really long pipe just so we could use pipe clamps to get this part done (with borrowed pipe clamps)):
But now the walnut edge plus anywhere I planed/sanded off finish needed all the coats of Waterlox. Three coats of original and 1 coat of satin finish later, and...
Well before that, a picture of Hamish helping assemble some stools for our mini seating area:
Saturday, June 21, a mere 5 months and 2 weeks after starting, our project was complete:
And back to cost, I'm sure it added to over $300 when we consider the screws, wood glue, sanding discs, etc., but it definitely beats the $1000 range, and I get to be proud of it.
I'm definitely proud of it.
One more before and after-