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Monday, July 27, 2009

Upgrade with Ikea Butcher Block Countertops

I started a new kitchen project today. By the time I'm finished there will be a glass mini-block backsplash and travertine floors throughout this character-filled East Nashville home. In addition, I'm installing butcher block counters from Ikea.

I tackled the counters first because they'll take a couple days to seal. The stock comes from IKEA in several different lengths. They are solid birch and come unfinished.

Working with the butcher block was fairly easy. This kitchen is divided into three sections with no 90 degree turns so that was helpful. To cut, I bought a Diablo finishing blade for my circular saw. (A finishing blade has more teeth so that it makes a cleaner cut.) I made the cuts so that the factory edges would be the only ones seen.

After making the measurements, I fastened a straight edge to the butcher block using clamps so that I'd have a solid edge to run the circular saw against. This extra precaution ensures that the ends will be square and straight- as long as I measured it right!

Cutting out the sink was the same as with a laminate top. I marked the sink and removed the piece with my jigsaw. You want to have a couple long boards under the butcher block while you're cutting it so that parts don't break off while you're cutting.

(Remember, today was the first day of this project. The pictures will get better as things progress! :)

Once the cuts were made I lightly sanded with 150 grit sandpaper and got ready to finish them. (Remember to sand with the grain.) Thankfully the block was fairly smooth and didn't need major sanding.

I did quite a bit of reading to see what was recommended to finish the butcher block. Of course, Ikea has their own sealer, but, by far, most people seem to recommend using a product called Waterlox.

Waterlox is a tung-oil based sealer that is non-toxic and food safe according to the manufacturer, as long as it's applied correctly. It should be allowed to dry overnight between coats and these counters will probably get 4 coats with at least 2 coats on the bottoms. Waterlox can be a little tricky to locate. I found it at the Woodcraft store in Franklin.

All the butcher block in this kitchen cost around $200. Not much more than stock laminate from the home stores. If you don't live near an Ikea the shipping costs will eat you alive. This homeowner was able to pick up the counters on a trip through Atlanta so it made sense for him.

So far, I'm impressed, but the real test will be after a few years of use.

BTW- If you want more info about installing Ikea butcher block check out:


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