Monday, February 7, 2011

Counter Intuitive

Once we started building our kitchen cabinets we needed to figure out what we were going to use for countertops. This was the kitchen when we bought the house:



The thought of putting new countertops in our kitchen was simultaneously exciting and overwhelming. We didn't particularly want to use laminate (not that there's anything wrong with that :-) but we didn't really have the money to do much more. We contemplated doing our own concrete countertops but were concerned about cracking and our inexperience in that area. We also considered ordering soapstone slabs from here.

I loved the soapstone option and I think it would have been beautiful. However, it was still a little pricey for us and I was afraid we would make a mistake and ruin it.

Luckily, before we made a decision, one of our friends at church told us that his dad had gone to an auction and bought out the old stock from a cabinet company that was transitioning to flooring. His dad had a lot of scrap pieces of walnut, cherry, and oak and needed to get rid of some of it. We decided to check it out and found this wonderful goldmine of walnut:


For those of you who know about woodworking, you know how expensive walnut can be. Luckily for us our friend's dad only wanted thirty dollars for this truck full.


We took the wood to Lee's shop and started working. Lee ran the boards through the table saw to make them the same width. Dave ran them through the jointer to get the faces square.

This photo is of me squaring the ends of the wood and is incredibly misleading as I did about 1% of the work while Dave and Lee did the rest.


Fortunately, with all three of us working, we were able to set up an assembly line and work through all the wood pretty fast.


We laid out our pattern and used a biscuit joiner to make the slots for the biscuits. Biscuits are wood discs that you use to join two pieces of wood. When you cut slots in each piece, fill them with glue, and add the biscuit, the biscuit swells up and gives you a strong joint. Here's a good diagram.


After gluing the pieces we put on clamps and let them dry for several weeks (would have been several days but the cold weather kept us from gluing).  The final step before taking them home was to run them through the planer.




Lee drove the pieces down in his truck and Dave scribed then cut them to make them fit up to the wall nicely.


He used a router to give them a nice decorative edge.


We debated over how to finish the wood: whether to simply oil the counters which would allow them to be used as a cutting board but involve more upkeep or seal them. In the end we decided to seal them with Behlen's salad bowl finish.


With wood counters you can't set hot pans on the counter or let water stand on it for a long time but they were about as functional as laminate and way more beautiful. At the total price of about $300 (less than $10/sqft) I'd say our project was a success!





Furniture Feature Fridays504 MainChic on a Shoestring Decorating






            


23 comments:

  1. This counter top is awesome! What a deal on the wood. I'm hoping my husband can do something like this in our home...some day.

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  2. Thanks so much! It took a while but I loved how it looked when we were finished.

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  3. Wow. That is just gorgeous. I'm kind of awe-struck.

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  4. Your counters are gorgeous! It was well worth the work and I love the extra details like the routing.

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  5. Your countertops and your kitchen are absolutely beautiful!

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  6. What an awesome kitchen, fabulous idea!
    www.dashing-home.blogspot.com

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  7. I can NOT believe you made those yourself! Just awesome! I'm featuring you on my Flaunt it Friday features. Please stop by and grab an "I was featured" button if you like. :)

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  8. Wow, seriously, awesome! They look beautiful! I am redoing my sisters kitchen and I wish I could do this for her, but I know my limits ;)

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  9. Incredible. How lucky to find that gorgeous wood at such a steal. You did an amazing job. Beautiful Beautiful Beautiful!

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  10. Wow! I've seen a lot of kitchen renovations and those countertops are the best I've seen yet. They are really beautiful. I can hardly believe you guys did it yourselves ... great job!! I especially love that they are so different then what everyone is doing. We are finalizing plans for a major kitchen overhaul and I've been looking for ideas for countertops (I'm really over the whole fad of granite, dark cabinets, and stainless steel appliances). I was considering doing butcher block but the light finish wasn't fitting in with my plan ... maybe I could stain them walnut color !

    That whole look is great !! Thanks for sharing the photos ..

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  11. Featured you today: http://adiamondinthestuff.blogspot.com/2011/03/time-to-shine-features-8.html

    Thanks so much for linking up to Time to Shine!!!!

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  12. Thanks for all the positive feedback everyone! I have to say that my husband did more of the work than I did and I am so thankful that he goes along with my crazy ideas!

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  13. Those are really gorgeous. I have wood counters too, and I can tell you they wear beautifully. They are tougher than you'd think. Great job!

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  14. This turned out amazing! I have a wood countertop too and I love it! :)

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  15. wood countertops are my favorite, I wish more people did them. THese are so nicely done, and what a great deal! They turned out beautiful. Your kitchen is gorgeous.

    We did something similar on the bar in our kitchen, only we used cherry wood flooring.

    http://notanemptyroom.blogspot.com/2010/08/goodbye-washing-machine-hello-bar.html

    we sealed them with marine grade polyurethane and they work perfect!

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    Replies
    1. Hi! Would love to see your project, but your page says invited viewers only?

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  16. Not only is your kitchen charming and sweet, but because you did it yourself it has a bit of your own soul in it. Absolutely beautiful!

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  17. Oh my goodness! Who wants granite now that you've shown us this?? You are so talented! I'm going to be following now!

    Jill @ JunkyVagabond

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  18. OMG. I am in love with your counter tops. Love them. Lucky girl.

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  19. Thank you everyone! We loved our countertops!

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  20. I just love all of your projects!

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