Monday, August 12, 2013

Making wood countertops...part III

Let me warn you now, this is not going to be pretty. But if you want to learn to make countertops the hard way, this post is for you:-)
We started the day with our beautifully planed 150-year-old wormy chestnut boards thinking we would get the edges straight, then fit them together, join with biscuits and get them glued.

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That's exactly what we thought.
Now, we do not have a jointer, which would be a really handy little tool at this point in the process especially because wood is not straight, and old wood is even more of a challenge. A jointer would make the edges of the boards perfectly straight, so when we join them side by side, they would fit perfectly. Theoretically, that is. But, because we enjoy were presented with a challenge, we had to be creative. So Luis had to find something 10 feet long and perfectly straight to use as a straight edge, and he ended up with an aluminum ladder. He set the power saw for 1/4" from the edge, then measured all the way down the board and drew the guide line. He then clamped the ladder to the work table sandwiching the wood in between. 

Using the power saw, he cut the edges of each board on both sides. 

Then we lined them up kind of how I wanted them to be on the counter, and started fitting them together like a puzzle. 

He drew the 45 degree angle that juts out where the sink will be, then cut the angled part with a jigsaw.

We wanted to try the front piece in the house, so we hired some help to haul it over:-)

This was the most exciting part just seeing that one board in place! I told you it's the little things:-)

We went back to put it all together, but because the board I wanted to be in the middle had some damage on the end, we ended up cutting it in half, then pushing it to either end as a hole for the sink will be cut out in the middle anyway. 

This is where my extreme patience had to kick in. Of course these boards did not magically fit tightly together. We sanded a little, planed a little, filed a little, then repeated the process...about 14 more times. 

And we still could not get the boards to fit as tightly as they will have to fit for a counter. If we had a jointer, we would not be wracking our brains like this, but maybe we can help someone else without a jointer who also wants to do something crazy make countertops out of old wood. 

Luis actually used a router last time he needed to get boards straight, so he is going to try that tomorrow again using the ladder as a straight edge. He will figure it out because he always does. He is a patient man. I did mention on our anniversary how incredibly thankful I am for him:-)

On a *prettier* note, I have been experimenting with stain colors. I decided to use old trim from my great grandfather's house as a backsplash, so will need to be close to that color or at least in the ballpark. The lower cabinets are grey, so it's looking like a combination of dark walnut and American walnut will give me what I want. I cannot wait to get to that point, because it's my favorite part!! I'll do some distressing, sanding, staining and making the wood look like the counters that were in my grandfather's store here. 

See, if I had been able to just go buy marble countertops, I would have missed out on all this fun:-)
You can see part 2 of the counter-making saga HERE, and there is also a link to the first part there.


I'll be linking to:

Wow us Wednesdays

P.S...and the sink has been shipped!!


  1. Your countertops are looking good Anita! Looks like Luis is doing a great job!

  2. Wow, what an amazing project! The new counters will be well worth all of the hard work. Your experience reminds me a little of putting granite on our 1940's vintage cabinets. We had to do so much trimming and planing to get a level surface on the old wood, but in the end, we prevailed! Good luck.

  3. It's going to be beautiful! And worth all the work. Can't wait to see it all finished.

  4. I love that you use your family's repurposed items to create your spaces. The history you establish in your environment must make "home" take on a whole new meaning.

  5. I am so excited with ( for) you :-). I am all about reclaiming ans reusing wood. It will be beautiful. Can't wait to see the next step.
    Saw a pristine set of 'pink crinoline' dishes in an antique store over the weekend and thought of you. Complete set... never been used. So pretty and delicate and perfectly pink.
    Hugs, Gee

  6. These are going to be fabulous!!!! What an incredible project!!!! You have such a wonderful home...your new countertops will just add to it's charm!

  7. The counters are going to be GORGEOUS!!! I love your entire home and these will only add to it. XO, Pinky

  8. Love your project Anita, and the stains sound wonderful.Made me remember my grandfather's corner grocery store.Thanks for sharing.