DIY Butcher Block Kitchen Counter
When you live in a 600 square foot apartment, the balance between function and style is a delicate art. I’m constantly wracking my brain for solutions to utilize our space more efficiently, especially in the kitchen where Chase and I both spend a great deal of time. With limited counter space, I’ve brought in several pieces throughout the years but nothing really hit the spot until I built a primitive, butcher block counter that was created uniquely for our space.
To be perfectly frank, I was overwhelmed with the idea, and would have preferred to buy something, but everything I liked was far out of budget and either too deep or not long enough. I decided to emulate a table I found online and when I happened upon these Modern Chunky Pine Island Legs from Carolina Leg Company, I was encouraged to give my DIY a try. I reached out to them and they graciously agreed to collaborate with me on this project. A few weeks later, I received these stunning, sturdy legs and with the hardest part done, drew up my plans and headed to the hardware store for the rest of the lumber. I would like to issue a warning here: skip the big box store and go to a quality lumber supplier. I unfortunately learned the hard way and my boards were either slightly off or warped. A true tragedy when compared with the excellent craftsmanship of the legs.
In the end, it all came together in two days (One to build, the second to stain and seal.) Below are my supplies and measurements for everything to create a 24” deep, 72” long, 36” high, kitchen counter table.
For the table:
2 boards 6-in x 10-in
2 boards 6-in x 60-in
16 2-1/2” Kreg screws
For the finish:
Sand paper ranging from 180-220
Varathane oil based stain in Early American
Polyeurethane (I used an oil modified, water-based poly)
To start, use your Kreg jig to drill two pocket holes on the inner ends of each board. You will drill 16 total pocket holes in total. These will be where you attach the skirt to the counter legs.
Assemble everything upside down, with the base of the table legs on the floor (or on a work bench) and the bottom of the legs at the top. Measure and mark where you’d like your skirt to sit I placed mine about 2” from the outside of each leg. Apply wood glue and start with the end pieces, glueing the 10-in skirts first. The proper way to do this would be to apply the glue, clamp the skirt piece between the two legs and drill, but I didn’t have clamps large enough so I waited for the glue to dry before attaching with the screws. I’m sure carpenters would shutter at this but it worked for me so if you’re working with limited resources, it’s a good alternative to the “right way.”
***It’s important for a table with these measurements to attach the shorter skirts first because once you attach the longer skirt, you’ll have a very hard time getting the right angle with your drill.***
Attach the 60-in skirt pieces and then wait overnight for everything to fully dry. In the morning, you can place your base (still upside down) on your tabletop piece, mark it out evenly, then glue it down, and allow it to dry for at least 12 hours. I also attached small L-brackets to secure the top to the skirt around the inside but you can alternatively counter sink screws into the legs from the top once you flip the table upright.
As you may have gathered by now, I like to take short cuts and I rarely prep wood for staining, but this is an investment piece so I really took my time here, gently sanding from 180 grit, all the way up to 220. I also used a wood conditioner (or pre-stain) it truly made all the difference. I stained the entire piece with a single coat of Early American by Varathane and once dry, gave it a coat of oil-based satin polyurethane. Unfortunately, it’s common for the grain to rise at this point and mine did, causing a rough texture. If this happens to you, gently re-sand with 220 grit and apply a second coat. It shouldn’t rise again. For my second coat however, I switched to a water-based poly I had been using on my dollhouse projects and it was SO much better. Far less mess, far less fumes, and I just liked the look of it better. It also dries much quicker, only a couple of hours between coats so I was able to use the table that evening with no issues.
The entire table is pine which is a very soft wood prone to dents and scratches but honestly, that’s the goal. I’m going for that primitive, 200 year old table that has been brought into a modern kitchen vibe, and after we cook a few meals on it, that’s exactly what it will look like. I couldn’t be more thrilled with the finish product, in fact, I’m writing this post at it. Sitting here on a gloomy day with a candle beside me and more elbow room than I could possibly dream of, I’m a happy lady.
If you need me, I’ll be here. Writing, and baking, and reading cookbooks.