I’m here with two more how-tos for kitchen projects that I haven’t yet provided details for. After this I only have one more to get caught up (our DIY dining room table with hairpin legs), and then I will be on to brand new projects! I just hate it on blogs when writers don’t actually share how they did the things they did because so much of the time that’s what I’m reading for in the first place, so I thought it was worth it to take a few extra posts to provide more details.
But first, a really quick shameless plug. By now you know we were on reality TV that one time. It has aired on Great American Country and HGTV, but we just wanted to mention that it’s now available to buy on Amazon for $1.99 (and iTunes) in case you don’t have cable but you’ve been wanting to see it (the HD version is $2.99 but you don’t need to see our pores, okay?). I finally got to see it for a second time this past weekend when I bought it on Amazon (and then a third time…I was visiting friends, and they insisted we watch it literally twice in a row). If you do buy it, we hope you don’t regret spending $1.99….
And now on to our regularly scheduled program. Today I’m sharing a bit more about how I cut, installed, and sort of sealed our butcher block counters, and I’ll also share a super quick explanation of the spice rack I made for over the stove.
First up, the counters.
As you may remember, in the fall I found two 25″ x 8′ slabs of butcher block on sale at Lumber Liquidators for just $99 each (right now they’re back to full price at $180 each):
It was the exact light-toned wood I wanted for the island and a few other surfaces, and I calculated that two slabs would allow me to cut out the various pieces I needed:
And then quickly got to work cutting them down to their final (and more manageable) sizes. I knew I would make a ton of saw dust, so I set up outside using some chairs as saw horses (I am a professional):
I used a finishing blade with my circular saw to ensure I would get as smooth a cut as possible without any chip out, and even though it was stressful to cut into my brand new butcher block I got pretty smooth cuts. I just measured about 15 times before cutting and then went nice and slow. I always use scrap wood as a guide to get a straight cut.
Then I used my orbital sander to sand each side, round the edges and corners, and get a smooth finish on top.
Of course all that measuring and remeasuring took time and eventually the sun set, so I moved myself into the basement to make the other cuts. Thank goodness for shop vacs.
Installing them was pretty straightforward. For the island and cabinet next to the pantry, I removed the “temporary” counter pieces that had been there for many months (the last remnants of our electric blue counters):
Then I positioned the new pieces in place, removed the top two drawers of the cabinets, had Sam sit on the counters to keep them weighed down, and drove a few screws through the tops of the cabinet frames from the underside into the counters. Even though the rest of the kitchen was still under construction, it was a huge improvement.
In the space next to the fridge my dad and I will be building cabinets, but I still wanted to get the countertop in place in the meantime so we can use the surface. I just installed four L brackets I had on hand into the wall on one side and the fridge surround on the other, and rested the butcher block on top of it. I’ll be able to easily remove it when we build the cabinet, but in the meantime it’s plenty sturdy just with the weight of the butcher block holding itself in place.
I did originally plan to use a piece in the passthrough window between the kitchen and dining room, but ultimately decided I preferred a thinner piece of wood that I painted white. I just felt like the butcher block would be too eye-catching there, when really I wanted something to blend in more.
But it yellowed the wood a little bit so I decided not to apply it on the other two counters. By now it has more than worn off on the island so it is back to its light raw tone, which I just like so much more. Because I didn’t install these in high traffic or wet areas of the kitchen I’m frankly just not that worried about them (and I can easily sand out any stains if needed), but if they end up getting more worn over time I might seal them with Waterlox or poly. But I like that right now they are totally food safe and we can cut right on them if we want to. I’m thrilled with how they turned out!
Another project you’ve seen in photos that I haven’t talked about is the spice rack I build for around the stove. We have so many spices that were taking up a lot of counter space:
I thought about installing some shallow shelves along the backsplash, but frankly I really didn’t want to drill into it and also I didn’t think it would look great to break up the tile with shelves. Instead, I decided to use some scrap wood (yes, always more scrap wood) to create a simple shelf to fit around the stove to go from this:
I just took a single piece of long thin wood I had and cut it into three pieces for the top and two sides. Then I drove screws through the top into the two side pieces — not even pocket holes, the screws would be totally visible except that the top is covered in spices so you can’t see them. Like here’s what a half-assed job I did: one of the screws started splitting the wood, so I just took it out and left it with one screw in and one screw out. It is terrible lazy “craftsmanship” but you literally never see the top because spices are on it. Here I removed one jar to show you my carpentry shame:
But if you wanted to do this yourself and not be so lazy about it, you could take an extra 10 minutes and drill pocket holes on the inside of the side pieces and attach it all that way. Congratulations, aren’t you impressive and full of energy.
The one extra thing I did both to do was use a 1″ drill bit to drill out a semi-circle along the back edge on the side where the cord from the stove comes out and plugs into the backsplash. That way the spice shelf can still sit flush against the backsplash.
To secure the whole thing in place, I stuck command strips along the whole back edge and pressed it firmly to the backsplash. Again, not a shining example of quality, long lasting work — but I didn’t want to drill into my backsplash, it’s plenty secure enough for holding spices, and I don’t have to worry about how to remove it down the road if I change my mind, need to move the stove, or whatever else might come.
Now that you know how much work went into this project, does it make it look not so great?
The answer is no, it still looks great, so I clearly put in the exact right amount of effort.