Counter Productive

Counter productive is actually counter productive in describing the progress we’ve made with the counters this weekend.  In fact, we have every countertop installed.  Of course with wood jokes a plenty.  My favorites, “Don’t hit me with your wood” said to Ben while holding the door open for him.  And Ben asking me if I like his wood.  Yes, yes I do.  Vincent even made an unintentional dirty joke telling Ben he “kissed his back door” while waiting to open the door for him.  Bahaha.  It’s a good thing he has no clue what he said.

I wish I could say the counter cutting and installation was quick and simple.  In actuality, Ben spent the better part of yesterday (and a few hours on Saturday) working to get er done.  It would have taken a million times longer if Ben hadn’t had the slabs sanded at the cabinet shop on Tuesday.  Speaking of the cabinet shop, Ben picked up the piece for the bar top on Wednesday.  Have a look.

With phase one complete, Ben started phase two, cutting the pieces to size.  I took the picture above after Ben had started cutting the bar top, but you can really see the difference of grain.  Because Ben is so awesome, he was able to get the bar  top in on Saturday night.

You can bet we wasted no time oiling that baby up.  And it’s amazing how different Sappelle looks with a coat of oil.

I love how much character the oil brings out.  And how rich the tone is.

There are a few knots, which look great and add tons of character.

The cuts around the post are snug, which is perfect because some of it will be visible even after installing the trim.

And here she is now, patiently awaiting bar stools to complete the look.

Ben worried most about the 45 degree angle he had to cut for the peninsula seam.  He cut the long side, brought it in to check the angle.

Luckily, it was perfect, so he brought in the adjoining piece.

He secured the small piece next to the sink first using silicone caulking along the sink seam.  This piece was the first to go in because we wanted the line against the sink to be straight.  If we had installed the larger piece of the peninsula first, it could have shifted the smaller slab.  Ben did have a slight problem when screwing it in.  Bubinga is a hard wood, which is the reason we chose it for our counters.  Because it is so dense, a few screws snapped off.  To help this, Ben drilled pilot holes with the wood in place, going through the cabinet top and into the counter.  I had the task of standing on a slightly bowed seam to keep the joints flush.

(Don’t mock my Flintstones feet.)  While I was up there, I thought I’d give you a never before seen and probably never will see again angle of the kitchen, with living room and front door beyond.  We hadn’t finished the pieces by the range.

Ben moved onto install the rest of the tops.  The piece above the dishwasher went in the same as the angled chunk to the left.

With the two pieces securely in their new home, we worked to fill the slight gap.

We wanted the filler to be as close of a match as possible, to keep the seam from being noticed.  The guy at the cabinet shop told Ben they usually make their filler out of sawdust and super glue.  We spread some glue into the crack (haha) and sprinkled saw dust over the top, pressing in place.

While it was still wet, we started scraping the excess off and lightly sanded it.

Still not happy with it, so I mixed wood glue and more sawdust in a container until it had a peanut butter like consistency.

A few other pieces had small cracks where the wood had split while drying.  We tested the glue/sawdust mixture here.  Once it’s sanded down, it should blend in nicely.

So, folks at home.  If you need a special colored wood filler, try making your own.

We’re still waiting for filler to dry, which we’ll sand and may have to give another coat before we can oil the tops.  The only piece that didn’t have any areas to fill was this one on the left side of the stove.  Pretty, huh?

But we couldn’t wait until the rest were ready for oil.  Just like the bar top, the oil enhanced so much of the grain and darkened up the color.  The wood absorbed the oil differently.  I think the darker areas are softer, so they drink the oil up quicker.

Once absorbed completely, the finish is even and pretty.  I couldn’t resist putting a few marble tiles against it.

The colors of the counters and bar top are very similar, despite coming from two different species of trees.

This was a huge item crossed off the to do list.

  • Install the new dishwasher.
  • Sand the ceiling and walls smooth
  • Build the five remaining drawers we’ve waited on (we needed to see how things were in place before we could build one drawer in the dining room, the trash can pull out, and the under the sink drawer)
  • Fill, sand, prime and paint said drawers
  • Install every drawer, 16 total
  • Buy the wood for the counters.  
  • Haul the wood slabs to a cabinet shop to have them sand both sides smooth
  • Cut the wood to fit and install the counters
  • Hang the upper cabinets
  • Add decorative face trim to all cabinets for a smooth, pretty, even front
  • Fill, sand, prime, and paint all cabinet faces
  • Build the drawer and cabinet fronts, including two glass front doors
  • More filling, sanding, priming, and painting of the cabinet fronts
  • Install the drawer fronts and hardware pulls
  • Prime and paint the kitchen and living room.  Probably the dining room too.
  • Add lights: sconces, recessed light halos, and the rope lighting
  • Trim out the posts and door frames
  • Add crown molding to the top of the cabinets
  • Decide whether we want to add decorative trim to the vent hood or paint it to match the wall color
  • Install the pretty new marble tile backsplash
  • Put everything back in place and enjoy
We’ll share more pictures and details once we’ve filled, sanded, and oiled everything.
What did you do this weekend?  Have you ever made your own wood filler?  Installed your own counter tops?  Do you get school girl for Justin Bieber excited over home improvement projects?

35 thoughts on “Counter Productive

  1. The counters are absolutely gorgeous! Wonderful job!

    And, great tip about the wood filler. I bet you’ll save a lot of people money with that idea!

  2. Beautiful!!
    I painted our kitchen this weekend. Then went outside (67 degrees, woohoo) and got all 130 bulbs & 36 pansies planted. Very productive weekend.

  3. They’re beautiful! My dad had told me about the wood glue and sawdust trick as well instead of store-bought putty.

    1. Aww, thanks everyone! We have the best readers ever! 🙂

      Hi Vonda, Glad you got the kitchen painted and got some planting done! I bet it looks great!!

      Hey Krysta, Thanks! It might take a little longer because we’re doing it ourselves, but it is coming together nicely. Light at the end of the tunnel. 🙂


    1. Lindsey, Thanks so much! Love your outfits! Maybe I’ll get stylish one of these days. Ha.

      Hey John! Thanks!

      Hi Brigette, Thank you so much! We think they’re fabulous, too. 🙂

  4. Love, Love, Love the progress. I can’t wait to see the finish product and a big congrats on the handy husband of yours. Makes it so much easier 🙂

  5. That wood looks insanely amazing. The whole kitchen really does! Eek, so exciting! I wouldn’t have been able to wait to oil either, and glad you did so we could see the awesomeness. Now I know that wood counters are the way to go! Love the rustic element they bring in!


  6. Just wanted to let you know how much am enjoying following the reno process step-by-step. Every afternoon I make myself a nice hot cup of tea and check in to see how your making out. I think I’m as anxious as you must be to see the final results. Fabulous job and kudos to Ben for being such a great carpenter!

    1. Hey Gabbi! Thanks so much for your sweet compliments! I can’t wait to see how your house comes together. 🙂

      Hi Sarah-Nadine, Thanks! It’s so nice to have everything coming together. I sure do love that handy hubby of mine. He definitely makes the process so much easier.

      Hey Jen!! Thanks, lady! It is soooooo exciting! Isn’t it funny how we’re too crazy to wait one more day?!? I agree about the wood. They warm up the room in a way stone or something similar just couldn’t.

      Hi Johanne, Aww, thanks so much! We’re flattered. 🙂 It’s fun to have all of you just as excited about everything as we are. Kinda like our best friends or family stopping over to check things out.


  7. I completely agree with johanne hulshof, I look forward to each new post and watching each stage of the process.

    Side note, I love that we have the same Flinestone feet. All my toes are the same length too.

    1. Hey Emily R. You’re too sweet! It really is like having friends or family stop by. 🙂 And, you cracked me up about our feet. So you know that you can’t wear peep toe shoes, too. Haha.

      Hi Melissa, Thanks!!

  8. Your countertops are gorgeous. I’m loving the progress. Its Ironic how a few days back I asked you about what kind of wood putty used and asked about mixing the sawdust with glue and then a few days later, it actually ended up being the solution to your problem a few days later. It’s hilarious. I actually needed to make my own putty because the Elmers stuff should not be used with high speed sanders. Keep up the good work.

    1. Hey Ayisha, Thanks so much! Oddly enough, I thought the exact same thing while mixing everything together. 🙂 So far, it has worked wonderfully. We still have to sand the areas down, but it seems perfect!


    1. I have to echo Jenn…..I’m inspired to redo my kitchen! Mine is ok, it’s not great or anything, and it’s also rather small. I’ve learned a lot about planning from reading your posts, tho, Amanda! I can’t wait till we have the time/funds to start a redo of our own.

  9. I love love love the counter tops! It’s so nice to see some deep wood in a kitchen instead of the concrete and light colors that are being used a lot right now. I can’t wait to see the finished result! Out of curiosity, are you painting the cabinets or are they going to be natural wood with a stain?

    1. Hi Ashley, Aww, thanks! We love the warm wood tone, too. Concrete or something similar would have felt too sterile and we don’t want that. We’re painting the cabinets a warm mid gray color. If we had wood cabinets that would be way too much. Wood floors, lower cabinets, counters, and upper cabinets would start to feel like a hunting lodge, especially compared to the rest of our house with clean white trim.


  10. This is a random question on an old post…
    Are you going to do anything with the back of your sink? I noticed in one of the pics above that the counter stops on either side of the sink – as opposed to having a portion of the counter extend behind the sink. Are you going to do anything else with this space besides a backsplash? We plan on installing a stainless under-mount sink and will probably have butcherblock counters (for budgetary reasons!) but I am weary about leaving a narrow strip of counter behind the sink that could be prone to splitting.
    Most of the undermount sinks I see have a hole cut out for them so that the counter completely frames the sink on all 4 sides (or all 3 sides if an apron sink). I like how yours is but do you foresee any issues with water, crumbs, etc.?
    (I’m confusing myself here so forgive me if I’m not making sense! :))

    1. Hi Lizzy! Nope, we’re not doing anything behind the sink besides the tile back splash. We opted to go this route because we initially thought we’d have granite counters (of course that is until we heard about the giant wood slabs). Granite usually has problems cracking around a sink, so we had our sink built to fill the entire depth of the cabinets. So, our tile back splash will go right down to the sink, filling the tiny gap where the sink and wall meet. We’ll continue the tile up to the ceiling for a seamless surface on that wall.

      As far as concerns with water, this will be no different than our acrylic bath tubs with marble tile walls. We haven’t had any issues there, so I don’t anticipate any in the kitchen. Crumbs should follow the same theory. As long as the seam where the wall and sink meet is caulked, water, crumbs and other things shouldn’t penetrate. Actually, I think the old way of installing a 4 inch tall piece of granite (or whatever the counters are) on the wall is going to have more issues. I know water got behind our laminate back splash (just basic splashing when washing hands or dishes) and bulged out the area behind the sink.

      I hope this explanation made sense, but just think of it as a bath tub with tile surround. 🙂


  11. Love the counter tops! Just followed your link from YHL and I will be back to see how everything comes together. Thanks for sharing : )


  12. Is there any reason to be concerned about having the wood so near the sink? I LOVE the counters you installed but I would be concerned about the water and wood combo.


  13. Amanda — i know you in a new house but can you tell me how your counter tops held up? with water and at the seams? following your cabinet making design and doing butcher block in my kitchen as we speak.


    1. Hi Alanna!

      We still talk with the current owner and have seen the house not too long ago. The counters still look great, just need an occasional coat of teak oil. I would recommend using a wood that you like the color instead of staining. It will be easier to maintain. 🙂


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