Thursday, February 24, 2011

Object of Lust 7: DIY Butcher Block Harvest Table

Their kitchen is their shrine, the cook their priest, the table their altar, and their belly their god. – Charles Buck

Butcher Block from Lumber Liquidators, Maine
This post verges on Objects of Necessity as well. Butcher Block is one of the must-have surfaces in any good kitchen.

When we updated our kitchen several years ago we decided to put in maple butcher block counter tops. We went to one of the kitchen cabinet stores in Halifax. 

We wanted one piece 8' long and counter width. We almost fell over when we were quoted (not installed - just for the wood) $1600.00!!! Apparently that's normal. I can tell you they did not get our custom on that day.

Being a bit of a DIY'er I set forth to hunt down how much butcher block actually cost; if not to buy, to prove that kitchen stores are ripping all of us off.

I found exactly what I wanted and at close to 1/6th (yes, that's one sixth) of the cost we were quoted in Halifax. It was from Lumber Liquidators in Maine, and they ship to Canada. Even with Day & Ross trucking and brokerage it didn't cost $600. 

I was told by the very helpful representative that it was unfinished and would need to have that done. No prob, I thought. I have a sander. When it got here we didn't even have to do much of that. A light go-over with 120 and then 220 grit, and we were varnishing. I've rarely been more pleased with a purchase in my life.

So what else can benefit from a cheap piece of Butcher Block? How about making your own Harvest Table. It's easier than you think. A harvest table can be the heart of your kitchen, the place where friends gather and good times and memories are created. Purchasing one would be a memory as well; a bad one. The two images below are about as picture perfect as you can get. They will set you back a pretty sum.

Nice tables. Bad price.

How would you like to know how to make your own Butcher Block Harvest Table, for way less than $750?

Stick with me. We'll go far. Follow my plans and you and yours will be gathered around your own butcher block harvest table before you know it. Except for the painting, this is a one day project. The only "specialty" tool you need is a router. Borrow your friend's...

As always spend any money you may have saved on good food, good wine, and good friends!

Cutting the legs.
Click to enlarge.
1. Purchase your butcher block
Here's 2 locations for you. Both in the States, but both ship to Canada:

Lumber Liquidators
Brewer, Maine USA
1-1/2" thick x 25" x 8 lft Maple Unfinished Butcher Block Countertop
* this is counter width so will make a skinny table. They may have wider, or see below.
$259.00 US, plus shipping (which will double it)

Grizzly Industrial, Inc.
Muncy, Pennsylvania USA
T21250 Maple Butcher Block - 72" x 30" x 2-1/4"
* this makes a wider but shorter table. This seller does have 8' long x 30" wide for $499.00 which is still a deal.
$385.00 + Shipping to Canada

2. Purchase legs and skirt wood locally at Kent Building Supplies

Use Deck Posts for legs
4x4 Deck Post (pressure treated, but you'll paint the bottom anyway) $21.67 each (total $86.68)

Wood for side skirts between legs
2 pieces 1" x 5" x 8' Clear Pine $13.09 each (total $26.18)
1 piece 1" x 5" x 6' Clear Pine $9.79

"L" brackets to join base and table
10 pieces 1 1/2" metal angle
$0.69 each (total  $6.90)

Plus 40 screws, get them  from your stash in the shed.

3. How to Make the Table

A table is very simple to make. Click to enlarge,
First step is to trim your deck posts to the proper length. (see image above) Usual table height is 30 inches. Subtract the thickness of your block top. That is your leg height.

Trim the post to the proper length taking care to leave enough room on the top for your skirt wood to slot in. Try to cut the post at an "attractive" place for a table leg. The post in the diagram works quite well.

Next cut slots on two adjacent sides of each post 3/4" wide x 4.5" high and 1" deep, minimum. This is for insetting your side skirt pieces. Although you purchased pine skirt wood that was called 1x5, it's actually 0.75 x 4.5. You'll have to finish the holes with chisels to square them up.

Mark out on the underside of your butcher block where you wish the legs and shirt to sit. From this measure out your side and end skirt lengths. Keep in mind the posts have to fit UNDER the table top and there's usually an overhang on a table top. Cut two sides the same length and two ends the same length.

Slot the 1x5 into the routed table legs and attach through with screws. Do it from the back so the heads do not show. You could get fancy and drill through and peg. Whatever you wish to do. Just make sure it's secure.

You may wish to reinforce each corner with a block so it doesn't warp, but once it's mounted to the butcher block I doubt there's much possibility of that.

Sand and coat the butcher block. There are high gloss products that are food safe or seal it with another type of food safe finish. Remember, it's no good to put on high gloss and then cut on it.

Sand, prime and put multiple coats of paint on the base before attaching it. I would suggest 4 coats. That way it starts life well protected and you won't have to worry about painting again for a while. Remember to use a washable paint.

Invert the table onto the butcher block's underside. Using the metal "L" brackets, securely attach the legs and skirt to the table top. By using 10 brackets you have 2 to secure each end and 3 on each side.

Flip the table over, pull up a chair, and relax. Of course feel free to use other surfaces for the table top if you wish. Just not laminate. Or I will have to find you.

Can you imagine, we now all have places to put our Bigolaro pasta extruders!!!


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