Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 25

Thread: Anyone made countertops?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2020
    Location
    San Antonio, TX
    Posts
    70
    Blog Entries
    1

    Anyone made countertops?

    Hey everyone,

    I am running through the idea of making wood countertops for our future home build. I’m thinking a walnut kitchen island and maybe utility room countertops (possibly white oak, cherry, etc). I’m wondering if anyone has done this before, and if so, did you make it by cutting small strips or laying boards side by side? I picture a big cup happening by gluing side by side. Am I wrong?

    Also, how did you keep it flat, as well as allow for expansion/contraction. Lastly, how did you fix it to the cabinet base? Just looking for ideas and insight here.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Piercefield, NY
    Posts
    1,632
    I made a roughly 51"x8' ash counter for the island in the kitchen at the farm where i used to live. I built cabinets on both sides and fastened the top to them, allowing for seasonal expansion and contraction. That top was made from 3 16" wide 4/4 boards and a 3" one. It stayed pretty flat. Up here I made counter out of cherry that is maybe 30" x 4', from 4 boards, 4/4. It is hinged to a thin strip of cherry that is screwed to the wall so that the counter can be lifted up to about a 45 degree angle to allow access to the chest freezer below. It is not absolutely flat, but it is close enough to fulfill its function.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2022
    Location
    Northern Colorado
    Posts
    1,014
    I built a 24” deep x 16’ long x 2” thick walnut counter top in our pantry and another 24”x10’x2” “bench” in our utility room. I used 1” wide strips in random lengths to build a butcher block like counter top. The pantry was RIDICULOUSLY heavy but the thin strips were pretty easy to mange. I just glued it up in 6” x 16’ sections with a clamp alternating every foot or so. It was an excuse to buy 20 24” Bessey Revos LOL.

    I did not feel comfortable with wide strips and I don’t think I would do a kitchen counter for fear of moisture ingress.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2021
    Location
    Mid West and North East USA
    Posts
    2,738
    Blog Entries
    2
    I have made shabby sheek DIY butcher block counters and tables by glueing reclaimed 2 x 4's into 3 1/3 thick x 13 inch wide chunks, running those through the planer, then joining 2 or 3 or 4 of the 13 inch chunks together. Our kitchen table and one 4 foot counter are made this way. The wood for the 2 inch thick x 4 foot counter was carefully selected from the outside edges of wide planks. It has all straight grain and is mostly quarter and rift sawn. I avoided knots. It has stayed very flay but has shrunk in width from 25 inches down to 24 3/4. The counter is finished with butcher block oil and gets replenished from time to time. The kitchen table is finished with MinWax polyurethane. The table finish has held up to over 20 years of heavy use. The table wood is 80+ year old Fir. The counter is old Yellow Pine. Checking the fit of the wood strips and Joining the 13 inch chunks together was done on a tempered glass light table made out of an old patio door.
    Last edited by Maurice Mcmurry; 12-05-2023 at 8:33 AM.
    Best Regards, Maurice

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    NE Iowa
    Posts
    1,197
    Our central kitchen island is hard maple - surface dimension of about 44" X 72". It's constructed of 1 1/2" wide by 2 1/2" deep strips that are interlocked by a shallow, 1/4" deep by 1/2" wide tongue and groove, glued and nailed together. It's screwed onto 1 1/2 X 1/8" thick angle iron cross pieces (with slots for the screws, to allow for movement) to keep it from cupping. It's been in continuous use as the primary work surface in the kitchen for 35 years. Among other milestones, I've probably eaten 4000 loaves of bread kneaded on that counter. It gets wet every day, and probably has water standing on it for some period several times a week. The water and use eventually wears out the poly finish, requiring resurfacing and refinishing (3 times total, I think - sanded down to bare wood, then 4 or 6 coats of water-based poly). (It's also 8" lower than a normal kitchen countertop to accommodate the needs of the primary baker and cook, my wife, who is barely 5' tall). It's great, and looks to me like with normal care, is easily good for another 35 years.

    My thoughts on your plans: I would not use an open grained wood like walnut for a countertop that was going to see hard use and much water. Hard maple is an excellent choice, and cherry probably as well. I would go with stock that is straight grained only on the surface edge. Thicker than wide strips. The T & G I described really helps stabilize the glue up, in my opinion. If I weren't doing that, I'd probably go with epoxy as the glue (and maybe would anyway).

    Countertops are probably not a place to experiment, but if I were going to do one in an open grained wood like walnut, I would seriously consider treating it after sanding with a penetrating epoxy like this one. I have used this with good success to waterproof the inside of vases turned from black walnut and elm. It penetrates such woods very nicely to a depth sufficient to allow a little sanding after, and results in a truly waterproof surface.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Western PA
    Posts
    1,233
    I probably made 50-75 islands/countertops over the period 5-6 years. Some were wider board laminations no different than a table top, some were rip cuts flipped 90° and laminated to the desired width, and some were end grain. End grain is really the only method that gives me concern. I made several large ones in the 2'x7' range and they were fine except for the one below. Overall I had a few cup, but they were typically due to an error along the way. For example, an unshielded dishwasher caused some issues on one countertop, because it was exhausting a bunch of steam directly into the underside of the island where it was trapped. Another big issue was when a contractor idiotically left a big end grain island top on a concrete surface overnight. It sucked up a ton of moisture and bowed along its length big time. It was so extreme i cant believe it didnt split. A true testament to modern adhesives. Other than that, i cant remember any bad experiences with wood tops and wood movement. As long as you track your stock's MC and build with proper techniques, then you should be fine. It really is no different than making a table top. I was at my parent's for thanksgiving and their 15-16' long sapele dining table was still fairly flat after years. I constantly check old projects to see how they perform over the years, and the extension ends were ever so slightly not matching up with the main table top. Either the wings moved a bit or the main table moved a bit.

    If i were making tops for myself(and i hope i get the chance to move and make an island top for myself one day), then i wouldnt bother with ripping boards to make the bowling alley 'butcher block'. I really dont think it makes a meaningful difference than properly constructed and dry flat sawn/rift/qs boards. Gluing up 3-4 boards versus 24+ is a substantial labor savings. Also, the rip cut laminations are much more wasteful. You burn the kerf of the saw blade and you need to make them about 1/4" heavy to achieve your final thickness. You are going to experience some movement when you rip those pieces. You can try to bend it out when you glue up the laminations, but i always made 15-18" blanks to run over my jointer and planer before gluing those blanks up into my final piece. This is where the domino would really shine by aligning 2-4 separate blanks to one another.

    Finally, i think finish and care is more important than construction method/species. Dont use mineral oil and beeswax or some other minimally protective finish. I used some conversion varnishes, but really loved General Finishes EnduroVar for many years. I am still upset that they changed the formula a couple of years ago. It might offer the same protection, but the aesthetic sucks now.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Kane View Post
    I probably made 50-75 islands/countertops over the period 5-6 years. Some were wider board laminations no different than a table top, some were rip cuts flipped 90° and laminated to the desired width, and some were end grain. End grain is really the only method that gives me concern. I made several large ones in the 2'x7' range and they were fine except for the one below. Overall I had a few cup, but they were typically due to an error along the way. For example, an unshielded dishwasher caused some issues on one countertop, because it was exhausting a bunch of steam directly into the underside of the island where it was trapped. Another big issue was when a contractor idiotically left a big end grain island top on a concrete surface overnight. It sucked up a ton of moisture and bowed along its length big time. It was so extreme i cant believe it didnt split. A true testament to modern adhesives. Other than that, i cant remember any bad experiences with wood tops and wood movement. As long as you track your stock's MC and build with proper techniques, then you should be fine. It really is no different than making a table top. I was at my parent's for thanksgiving and their 15-16' long sapele dining table was still fairly flat after years. I constantly check old projects to see how they perform over the years, and the extension ends were ever so slightly not matching up with the main table top. Either the wings moved a bit or the main table moved a bit.

    If i were making tops for myself(and i hope i get the chance to move and make an island top for myself one day), then i wouldnt bother with ripping boards to make the bowling alley 'butcher block'. I really dont think it makes a meaningful difference than properly constructed and dry flat sawn/rift/qs boards. Gluing up 3-4 boards versus 24+ is a substantial labor savings. Also, the rip cut laminations are much more wasteful. You burn the kerf of the saw blade and you need to make them about 1/4" heavy to achieve your final thickness. You are going to experience some movement when you rip those pieces. You can try to bend it out when you glue up the laminations, but i always made 15-18" blanks to run over my jointer and planer before gluing those blanks up into my final piece. This is where the domino would really shine by aligning 2-4 separate blanks to one another.

    Finally, i think finish and care is more important than construction method/species. Dont use mineral oil and beeswax or some other minimally protective finish. I used some conversion varnishes, but really loved General Finishes EnduroVar for many years. I am still upset that they changed the formula a couple of years ago. It might offer the same protection, but the aesthetic sucks now.
    Patrick, that is one of the best replies on any thread here I have seen. Sharing from a position of experience and good communication skills helped many creekers in our growth I’m sure. Thanks!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    North Dana, Masachusetts
    Posts
    474
    I have plastic counter tops, and want to change to wood. The above posts are informative.
    Putting plastic finish on the wood doesn't sound good. I'm trying to get away from that. It seems like the other choices are none, oil, or shellac, and re-finishing as needed.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    94
    I replace my countertops with wood. I used 1-3/4 x 7/8 stock and glued up edge grain, I think I used 29 pieces to get the width I needed for my counters. I finished them with tung oil, several coats top and bottom. They are still holding up fine after four years. I think I will be giving them a light sand and another coat of tung oil this winter.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Los Angeles, California
    Posts
    952
    Wood may warp and stain, especially near the sink.

    I'd make custom cutting board type panels, exactly sized for your countertops, of a reasonable size, no greater than about 24", so they can be picked up, washed in the sink, and taken outside to occasionally sand and apply a wax mineral oil finish. Keep whatever you have under the cutting boards
    Regards,

    Tom

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Colorado Springs
    Posts
    2,696
    I would really like to see pictures of these wooden countertops and islands.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lewiston, Idaho
    Posts
    28,469
    Decades ago, I purchased and installed a bathroom vanity with a wood beautiful countertop. Word of advice, once you see any wear on the finish, do something about it immediately! I didn't due to long professional hours. It can get to the point of no repair rapidly if you don't address the issue. I love the look of wood countertops but won't have another one!
    Ken

    So much to learn, so little time.....

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2020
    Location
    San Antonio, TX
    Posts
    70
    Blog Entries
    1
    This is a wonderful conversation. I am going to try and incorporate as many wooden surfaces (as my wife will allow) throughout the house where they make sense - kitchen island (no sink or appliances will be in it), utility room, and pantry…so far

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    94
    This is the small section of my counter top and the bar top section
    Bartop 3.jpgNew Countertop 1.jpg

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    NE Iowa
    Posts
    1,197
    This is my 35 year old hard maple island. As I say, it gets daily hard use.

    PXL_20231205_202302589.jpg

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •