Butcher Block Kitchen Island | Kitchen Makeover Reveal | House by the Bay Design

Custom DIY Butcher Block Island Top

Our affordable DIY butcher block countertop solution for an oversized 92” x 47” island. Sure, you can spend a bunch of money on a custom island top or hours cutting and gluing together wood for a truly DIY butcher block, but why not compromise with an affordable, time-saving solution using prefabricated butcher block countertop pieces?

Kitchen Renovation Makeover Reveal | Spring 2018 One Room Challenge | House by the Bay Design

When we decided to our epic kitchen renovation a few years ago we knew we wanted to add an oversized island with a butcher block countertop. After doing some research and getting some quotes I discovered that we would need a custom piece of butcher block. The best quote we received was about $850 and neither Chris or I wanted to spend the time actually making our own butcher block strip by strip.

Our solution? Inexpensive butcher block countertop pieces, cut to size and laminated together to create a custom island top. The total cost of this project was about $410 USD – the teak is regularly more expensive (would have been $550 total), but was incorrectly marked in store so we got a deal – bonus!

You can find more details in my DIY kitchen island tutorial to see how we built our oversized 92” x 47” island.

DIY Butcher Block Island Top Materials

You will also need a saw to cut the countertop pieces to fit. I highly recommend using a table saw for this and have a few people to help hold the weight when cutting (ours were about 75 lbs each).

A good circular saw and jig would also work but you have to make sure your cuts are perfectly straight and you cut on the underside in case your saw marks the surface at all (ours sometimes does).

Measuring & Cutting the Top

The prefabricated countertop pieces we bought from Lumber Liquidators were 25″ x 96″ and the total size we needed for our top was 47″ x 92″. We cut 4″ off the end of each piece and then cut one piece lengthwise to 22″. We wanted to make sure that the seam between the two countertop pieces was off centre so that it would be fully supported.

One of the reasons why we chose the Lumber Liquidators countertops was that the edges are square which means you can glue the factory edges together and not worry too much if your cut edge is imperfect.

Glue the Top Together

Once the countertop pieces are cut to size, we used Titebond III wood glue (which is rated safe for indirect food contact) down the centre seam and giant pipe clamps to keep the whole thing together.

To make sure the pipe clamps didn’t leave any marks in the wood, we used a few small layers of cardboard as padding.

Install onto Base Cabinets

Once the glue on the Island top was dry, we installed it to the base by installing screws up through the IKEA base cabinets and the mini stud wall. To support the overhang, Chris built some legs out of MDF (more on that in our DIY island tutorial).

DIY Kitchen Island with butcher block countertop installed

Hide the Seam with Hand Tools

After the top was nice and secure, Chris used a hand planer to remove any glue that had seeped up to the top and then sanded the entire top with our orbital sander to smooth out any unevenness on the top and the edges.

Save some of the wood shavings from this and mix together with some of the titebond to create a custom colour matched wood filler – this will help with any gaps you need to fill in the seam.

Finish the Edges for a Professional Look

Once Chris was happy with the seam (or lack of seam, he’s a perfectionist) he used our router to finish off the outside edges with a slight curve. This gave it a really custom look – plus those corners were sharp!

How Hidden is that Seam?

Let me put it this way…We’ve had many friends come over say something like:

“It looks amazing! Of course I know where the seam is, but most people would never know”

But you know what? Almost all are are actually wrong .

Sure, if you look really, really closely at the ends (in person) you can clearly see where the seam is. Our attitude? No one should be looking that closely at ANY of our DIY projects.

If that’s the kind of thing that will drive you nuts, you can easily fix it by sanding and using your DIY wood filler on the bottom of the overhang as well.

Protecting your Butcher Block

The last step to finish off the island top is to add a protective coating to the butcher block.

Keep in mind, the colour of the wood will be very different once treated. When we first opened up the boxes I freaked out because the teak wood was so light and had what looked like neon orange stripes. After adding the oil finish, however, it mellowed out into a deeper warm brown.

For our top we have been using regular ole mineral oil. We oiled it every week for the first month, then monthly for the first year – now we do it ever 3 months or so. Simply pour some on and use a shop towel to spread the oil around the entire surface. The wood will absorb it pretty quickly and, after leaving it overnight, wipe up the excess with a clean show towel.

I’ll be honest, I really hate the mineral oil (even after you wipe up the excess the counter can still feel oily for a couple of days) but we bought so much of it we’re using it up before we try something else. Once our stash is used up I really want to try beeswax which I hear is a great alternative – Alex at Northstory & Co. did a great post on this.

At the time I’m writing this tutorial it’s been two years since we did our renovation and both our island and butcher block top are holding up great. If you decide to create your own island top using this method I’d love to see your photos so make sure to tag me on Instagram @housebythebay!

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