DIY Wood Countertop for $120. Eat that expensive counter people! Part 1

In: Kitchen Tutorials

DIY Wood Countertop Tutorial

Super duper deals on gorgeous countertops are rare- like sparkly unicorn rare, but not impossible.  Especially if your willing to put up a little sweat and elbow grease.  ew-that phrase is always kinda gross to me.  Sort of like the word “moist” or “phalange”.

Anyway, we previously discussed my plans for an amazing countertop for insanely cheap.  Well my friends, I have done it.  The clouds have parted and I say, “Let there be counters for the price of dinner and a movie.”  (We eat really cheap, like $5 Little Ceasars Pizza cheap, and a RedBox, so maybe a few of these.)

I’m going to share this amazing diy deal with you, so that you too can have awesome countertops to replace the hideousness that is 90’s laminate, for the same jaw dropping price.
Here is the recipe for awesomeness:

3/4″ x 24″ x 72″ Aspen boards from the local big hardware.  How ever many to accommodate your kitchen cabinets

1″ x 2″ x 96″ Aspen boards from the local big hardware.  These are for your front trim and will be ripped in half lengthwise.

I know that Lowes and Menards both carry these boards for the same price.  I bought mine at Menards because they looked cleaner with long boards laminated.  Lowes’ boards seemed to look very pieced together with short boards laminated.  Not what I wanted.

wood glue
1″ nails- nail gun would be helpful
wipe on polyurethane
Whatever tools you like to use to apply stain and poly
Also, if you are going to be connecting any joints- I used a Kreg Jig and it worked famously.

This is the diagram that I took to the store with me when I bought my boards:

sketch plan
I know, undeniably the best example of modern art you’ve seen in a while…  Your not the first to say that.

It is super helpful if you have a diagram when you get there if you want a baby faced weekend employee to rip your boards for you.  

Pictures=less discussion.
This especially helps with complicated cuts of large plywood when you want to eliminate waste. (Tyler did this with my mudroom shoe drawers and I had basically no scrap- which was in this earlier post)
This project had literally, about 4 inches of scrap countertop left over.  I’m totally like Dictator of the Clean Plate Club…

The nice folks at the store will rip your boards for you if you don’t have a table saw at home, which I don’t, but I do have a Dad that has all that good stuff.  

Before I left, I picked up a couple cans of stain because I’m crazy indecisive, a can of wipe on poly in satin (per this informative website), and gleefully loaded up the van (that I wish was a late model 70’s Ford Truck) to get it all home.

Before going home, I stopped at Dear old Dad’s house just to say hi- not really, it was all a ruse, I really needed him to cut my board. *insert evil laugh…

I did this all in steps.  One counter at a time.  Mainly, because I didn’t have all the money at once to buy all the boards.  I know, I know- “It’s so cheap though!” you say.  Well, we needed to buy pesky things like food and trips to the E.R. when the ten year old eats pavement off of his bike, or when the baby decided to swan dive off the table onto his head.  How dare they!

bloody chin
I was worried more about his little brain than the road rash.

When I took my first board to Dad’s and explained what it was for and how we needed to cut it, he just looked at me and laughed.

This is generally what he does when he hears my hair brained schemes.  *Darn kids these days.  

He decided to use the circular saw to cut the countertop board to the measurements in my diagram. I didn’t bother to cut the trim piece yet, I wanted to see if this would actually work.  I used this first board for the counter next to the pantry and the little piece above the new trash cabinet.  Both were a perfect fit-I don’t know how that happened. Must have been the magic, wood putty fairy.

Once home with my first board on the saw horses- I don’t really have saw horses, but our patio chairs turned backwards work great-   
 I gave the whole thing a nice sanding by hand to round the corners and edges.  Don’t use an electric sander because the edges will tear up your paper.  I wiped a few swatches of the different stains I chose on the “bad” side of the board to test out which color I liked.  Minwax Dark Walnut and Minwax Provincial.  I know, there are almost exactly the same- but not quite, the devils in the details.

Provincial it is.

Now, I know that everyone has an opinion about how to apply stain.  Like they learned it from their grandfather’s, neighbors’, grandfather’s, cousin.  I’m going to share with you a Bliss Street secret weapon that my father handed down to me when I was a young whipper snapper…


 shhh… it’s a family secret. 

 I’m kidding…just about the secret thing.  He really does do this.

He likes to stain with old socks.  Or new socks really.  My dad gets weird socks from a neighbor who tries to sell them outside his house for $1 a pair in the summer. (New ones! Thank goodness-he doesn’t get crusty, old, used neighbor socks.)  When summer ends, he had boxes full of them in every size.  With that said, if you don’t want to raid your husbands sock drawer, or if your lucky enough to have a washer that doesn’t eat socks leaving you the dreaded “missing sock” bag,  a rag will do.

 One coat of Provincial did the trick and gave me the color I was looking for.  I let that sit over night before adding the poly.  Now the Minwax wipe on Polyurethane specifically states on the can to apply with a rag.  I went rogue on this one-  I had used this before on my dining room table that I refinished- pictures later- and with such a large piece, the rag just didn’t give me the even surface I needed.  Instead, I used a cheap-o foam brush from the kids art bin. 

(Dad’s probably going to have a fit about this) 

I poured some poly in a sort of “S” on the entire surface then, starting from one end, made straight, smooth strokes off the opposite end.  Let this cure for at least 6-8 hours before even thinking of sanding it.  Once, it’s nice and dry, softly sand the surface in even strokes with the grain with a 220 or so sand paper.  

I don’t know what my paper was, but it was a super used piece of paper and was super fine and soft.  Your just sanding the surface so that it is nice and smooth.  Wipe with a tack cloth or brush really well with a bench brush and add your next coat of poly in the same way.  Easy Peasy right?  I gave this counter 4 coats with sanding in between and figured that would be perfect.

Once I was finished, I admired my work and knew that all I had to do was wait for the last coat to dry!  It was soooo exciting.  Until…

Please see exhibit A:

dead fly stuck on piece of wood

The perp was found legs up, wings stuck tight in my perfectly smooth last second to last coat of poly…
What are the odds.
Counter is beautiful and smooth though isn’t it?

You would think this would be the last of the countertop adventure, but alas… there is another twist to come!
That stupid fly set off a chain of events that potentially could ruin my counter!!!! 
Dun, dun, dun….

Here is the second post in this 3 part countertop Drama!
Here is the 3rd post finishing up our countertop adventure!

I have no affiliation with any of the products or establishments that I refer to in this post.  Unfortunately, I have to pay for everything myself, but alas I get to share all of my own ideas and opinions on whether or not they are stinky or not :)