Save yourself hundreds and build your own DIY Butcher Block Countertops! Watch our process and discover all the products you’ll need.
*This post is sponsored by BLANCO. So grateful to have a sponsor to help me bring this content to you!
If you’ve ever had to live without countertops in your kitchen, you are familiar with the joy that fills your heart when you finally have them.
We are chipping away at the progress on our new kitchen in our new pole barn home we’ve built, and I want to share with you an update and our whole DIY process for building our beautiful white oak butcher block countertops and all about them.
UPDATE: See the finished Kitchen Reveal here.
WATCH THIS POST
For a more personal experience, feel free to watch this post! Though I do leave more details in the written post – each is great to help you learn.
Why Butcher Block?
We have a U-shaped kitchen, and we are doing a little mix of countertop materials. You can see all our design plans and how we designed this space here.
Truth be told, I initially really wanted all marble countertops – but after evaluating the cost of this high maintenance material, we opted for butcher block – something we felt more comfortable doing ourselves and would save us hundreds.
I still really want some Carrara marble in our kitchen, so we have actually bought some marble remnants at an incredible price and are going to cut and polish it ourselves for this small countertop space on either side of our Verona Range, including a big slab for the backsplash.
You’ll also notice the bit of marble we threw in for this “Stone Tap” section. More on that in a sec!
I think having the mix of the warm wood countertops and just a bit of my favorite stone will be quite lovely. We still need to add the backsplash which is a small piece of the same wood on the countertops.
Type of Wood
We have used a plank of white oak wood for our butcher block countertops. Oak is a hardwood, making it a more durable choice for countertops, compared to something like pine, which is a softwood.
I think white oak is our new favorite wood because it is warm without having dominant red or orange tones in it. We played around with a sample and decided we loved when we added a pickling stain and then sanded it off.
It leaves some white running through the grain and makes the wood overall softer in color. It is just so pretty. You’ll be able to see that difference in the process shots below.
We found our white oak from a friend who has his own finishing company. We were like a couple of kids in a candy store seeing all the beautiful wood he had. It was a pretty easy choice for us to go with the white oak after seeing how lovely it looked.
HOW TO BUILD BUTCHER BLOCK COUNTERTOPS
I’ll walk you through my Mr. TIDBITS process for building and finishing these countertops, as well as the products we’ve used.
We started with wood pieces that were 5 inches wide and 1 ¾ inch thick.
For the sake of ease and beauty, we opted to do a face grain butcher block top, meaning the face of the wood is on top, versus a true edge grain or end grain countertop.
You can google those terms and see a whole ton of examples and pros and cons for each.
Step 1: Plane and cut your wood pieces
You have to cut and plane your wood pieces before you begin gluing them together. We were so grateful that our friend and wood supplier was willing to run our wood through his industrial planer. By the time we picked it up, it was all planned, smooth, the correct size, and ready to be glued.
Step 2: Glue your wood pieces together
Kevin used a lot of wood clamps and wood glue to adhere the pieces of wood together, and let it dry sufficiently before moving on. Of course, careful measuring is going to be a huge part of this step as well.
Step 3: Fill any holes with wood filler
Once the glue had dried, we used a natural wood filler to fill all the holes and knots in the wood. This particular rustic white oak does have a lot of knots, but we find that adds to the rustic beauty.
Step 4: Sanding number 1
Once the filler was dry, it was time to give it a really good sanding with our Ryobi Orbit Sander and make all the wood pieces nice and even, while also cleaning off any glue or filler remnants. If you have a planer big enough, running the whole chunk through there would also be a great and much easier way to clean and even this up.
Step 5: Stained
At this point in the process, he applied 1 layer of pickling stain and let that dry. You may not opt to stain your wood at all, so you could skip this step.
Step 6: Sanding number 2
He once again sanded it to remove most of the pickling stain layer, just leaving that lovely white running through the wood grain. If you didn’t stain, you can skip the second sanding as well, but I wanted to show you how it altered the wood tones, specifically for this white oak pickling stain treatment.
Step 7: Cut wood to size and cut holes for faucet
Cutting your block to the right size and cutting any holes for your sink and faucet can be super nerve-wracking! To get nice corners, Kevin first made his markings and then drilled a hole in the corner with a 1 3/4 hole saw, to get nice even round corners.
Then he proceeded to cut the spot for the sink.
I want to talk to you about this choice we made to add marble around the faucet and the backside of our large, beautiful BLANCO fireclay sink.
I saw this image on Pinterest (one of my husband’s favorite things for me to say – wink) of a little piece of marble just under the faucet. I thought it was a very interesting concept, and after sharing it on Instagram someone let me know this was called a “Stone Tap”. Something very popular with European kitchen designs, specifically something done frequently by Devol Kitchens when they do butcher block countertops.
We decided to make a bold move and try out this idea ourselves but on a larger scale. It makes perfect sense when you think of how much water can drop from your hands going back and forth from the faucet, resulting in a pile of sitting water. Where wood definitely has a tendency to get water damage when compared to stone, we decided this would be a very practical option that would also add unique character.
We were very nervous about this idea but decided to cut some marble to fit the backside of the sink only. Kevin used his drill press to cut the holes for the faucet and trimmed out enough marble to make it the thickness of the butcher block. I wish we could have found a chunk as thick as the wood, but we were unsuccessful, so we had to join 2 pieces.
Then we caulked along all the seams. This is a very unique idea, but I have to say – we are thrilled with the results! It really adds some great character to the sink area and I think will help our butcher block hold up much better.
Step 8: Seal the Wood
We knew we had a couple of options when it came to sealing the wood, which of course is very necessary for an area that will be exposed to a lot of moisture. Most butcher block countertops are not stained and simple food-safe mineral oil is the best choice. It treats the wood all the way through and allows you to basically use your countertops as a cutting board if desired. You have to frequently apply the oil to protect the surface. Where we had applied a pickling stain, I didn’t see our countertop as being food safe and the stain had already opened up the pores. I picked the brains of my local paint shop whom I always go to for these tricky questions, and they highly recommended a clear coat, or polyurethane, which protects your wood from the top.
This treatment does run the risk of getting scratched, but I’ve never had a countertop that I didn’t use a cutting board on or dishes to prep my food, so this was a fine solution for me. I wanted the wood to keep its natural raw look as much as possible, so they recommended this acrylic-based Benjamin Moore Clear coat called “Stays Clear”. (Something similar on Amazon)
I got the Flat finish to keep a nice matte, natural wood look. I’ve used other water-based clear coats with success, but he mentioned most other clear coats will have a slight cool or warm tint, where this “stays clear” is a true clear. That all sounded great to me! We may need to reapply a layer every few years, but that’s easier upkeep than the mineral oil which is much more frequent than that.
One thing we read that made sense to me was to also seal the underside of the countertop, which should help prevent excess swelling and cracking of the wood seams – so we also did that.
ALL ABOUT OUR SINK
I drool over large Farmhouse Apron front sinks – the bigger the better! I’m thrilled to tell you about one of my kitchen sponsors, BLANCO who worked with me to share this fireclay sink with you. This particular sink is their PROFINA 36″ Farmhouse Fireclay sink. The color, the texture, the size . . . everything is stunning!
Our pull-down faucet is the EMPRESSA Bridge Faucet, in polished nickel. I love the slightly warm tone without being too warm. It feels timeless to me and looks really great with the marble.
I’ll be back in another video and post to share more details on our BLANCO fireclay sink, like how we clean and maintain it.
My husband absolutely loves to work with wood, so this was quite an enjoyable project.
I love the warmth this countertop brings to the kitchen space and how it coordinates so well with our European wire brushed white oak wood flooring and all the other cooler colors and elements in the space.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post and learned a few things. Most of all, I hope it inspired you to create with your hands and discover the joy of doing so.
Be sure to catch the move-in tour of our pole barn home, so you can see how many more DIYs are yet to come! You might also enjoy seeing a round-up of kitchens that have inspired many of my design decisions for this space.
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