I hesitated to even write this post about my counter tops because we were winging it the whole way and I don't want anyone to think this is a tutorial! It is not! However, I decided to just write it and share some of my thoughts and observations and a few of the things we did learn.
We had some serious discussions about counter tops and what we should do. I kept leaning towards butcher block because of my daughter's counters that I love so much. However, I stayed open minded and read and researched everything.... and kept coming back to butcher block.
So then, the hunt was on. The tricky part was finding planks that were big enough for our island. IKEA actually carried the large ones and luckily had what we needed in stock.
Birch plank, right out of the box
I wanted to darken up the Birch planks but really wasn't exactly sure how to stain and finish them in a food safe way. So back to the research I went! It is amazing to me how helpful people can be and when I sent emails asking for help I always got quick and expert replies.
Birch plank, heavily sanded with DeWalt Orbit Sander
Probably the advice that was the most helpful in directing me, was from a blogger who finished her butcher block with tung oil and she told me that over a year later, with just a little consistent oiling, her counter tops were more gorgeous than ever. So, I sent an email to the company Real Milk Paint that sells natural paint and stain products, including tung oil. They wrote me back the most informative email about why finishing butcher block counter tops with tung oil was the answer. No stain, no varnish, no unsafe products, very little maintenance.
I told them I wanted to darken my wood planks and was wondering about stain and they recommended Dark Tung Oil. They also suggested that I use it along with a solvent to improve the penetration of the oil into the wood. They carry an all natural, food safe solvent called Citrus Solvent made simply from citrus peel oil. (This stuff is amazing. For any of you that have ever done anything with solvents that smell and feel toxic on your hands... you need to try Citrus Solvent. It has such a pleasant odor and leaves no stinging feeling on your hands!)
So, following their instructions and advice, I finished all the butcher block with Dark Tung Oil mixed 50% with Citrus Solvent. It was the easiest process imaginable. Apply, let it dry, rub it soft, repeat, stop the application when the oil no longer soaks in the wood. It was recommended to me that I oil both top and bottom of the planks, so all this was done prior to installation, although Eldon had already cut the planks to size.
They took on a positively rich, beautiful finish.
So, the installation? Well, this is where my amazing husband enters the picture. Has he ever installed butcher block before? No. With just a little thinking and processing can he do it? Yes. Measure, set up straight edge...
... and cut.
The tricky part was the island. It required the three large planks, all cut differently and with a lot of calculating and figuring. Very odd angles that needed to be mitered and fit perfectly together.
Not to mention the trickiness of cutting faucet holes and cutting and fitting the farmhouse sink. Eldon wants me to mention here that when it came to getting the rounded corners for the sink to fit perfectly he used a hole saw and then fine tuned it with a Farrier's rasp (a horse hoof trimming file)! It worked excellent! (Of course he just happened to have that on hand!).
Once the island counter tops were in place and attached permanently then I sanded the mitered joints until they were smooth as silk. This is what the wood looked like at that point, which sort of scared me. However, I have learned from my daughter's counter tops that that is the joy of butcher block, it is very forgiving... sand out imperfections and oil them back to perfection!
And there it is. Perfect!
Installing the counter tops on the other side of the kitchen was very straight forward. They were just the standard size and the only cutting required was the lengths.
I think they are beautiful.
I don't think anything else would've made me as happy as the butcher block and given me the farmhouse kitchen look that I wanted so badly. I've been told many, many times by many people that butcher block gets prettier and prettier. The more it is used, the slicker and glossier it gets!
If you haven't read my full kichen post yet, you can read it here.
On the house this week: I have my work cut out for me in sanding, staining and varnishing our solid wood five panel interior doors. Eldon is multi-tasking plumbing and floor trim. We are close my friends.... VERY CLOSE!!!