Introduction: Butcher Block Countertop Table (IKEA Hack)
Make a beautiful butcher block table with IKEA hardwood countertop and IKEA desk frame.
Step 1: A Trip to IKEA
Visit your local IKEA store's kitchen section and select your favorite hardwood countertop. Most IKEA countertops come in two sizes: 6 feet (74") and 9 feet (98"). Naturally, you can use a longer one, but for most 6 feet desk surface will be large enough, if not too large. Besides, a larger countertop will also be heavier and will put additional stress on the legs / frame.
IKEA has many styles of desk legs, but I for this project I wanted something sturdy, something that would last, so I've settled on 63"x31" BEKANT underframe (302.529.06), with wide base legs, since it has a frame, allowing for more secure mounting. This particular BEKANT underframe can be height adjusted from 25.5" to 33.5".
In fact, there is an awesome sitting / standing BEKANT (802.632.24) frame available, that adjusts from 22" to 48" with a push of a button. Though it will cost you four times as much as non-motorized 33" high counterpart. Still, it will cost you way less than most commercially available adjustable standing desks, mechanical and electric alike.
Perhaps, one day I'll manage to convince myself that I absolutely must have such a luxury.. or need it for health reasons ;)
Oh well, let's continue..
Step 2: Measure, Draw and Put It Together
Begin by measuring your countertop width and depth.
If you picked a 6 feet one, you should come up with the following:
Note: I'm using centimeters because while there's very little calculation here, [for me] it's easier to work with centimeters than fractions of an inch.
Next, measure your frame.
If you've selected same size frame as I did (63x31 1/2 "), you should have following measurements:
Next, draw it out on a piece of paper where the frame would be mounted on the countertop with some simple math based on your measurement and then draw it out right on the wooden undersurface of your countertop.
Note: be sure to select best side as a top and worst as underside. One of them will have a IKEA stamp that will take some vigorous sanding to get rid off if you accidentally leave / choose it on top. Thus, it's easier to leave it on the bottom side.
After marking up the underside of your table surface, adjust the frame to match up with your marks and carefully, without moving the the frame, make mark / pencil in the mounting holes (make sure it will be very visible).
Remove the frame and very carefully drill 0.75-1 inch holes where you've marked. Start with a smaller hole and deepen it, using a fastener as a guide.
Measuring the fastener with the caliper, I've determined that it's about 9.3mm at it smallest and about 10.4mm with the "nail" in it.
If you are using IKEA fasteners that came with the frame, your measurements should match (do check to be certain though).
If so, use 3/8" drill bit for the holes.
Be careful and take it slow.
Use the fastener to measure up the final depth of the holes to drill.
You should be able to fit it easily enough, without much struggle. Remember, that it will have to expand significantly, with the plastic nail part inserted.
If you've drilled your holes too wide, you could get some large nuts and bolts to mount the frame to the countertop, with each nut glued into the wood.
If you've drilled your holes too deep, you could use even longer bolts.. Even though they might show up on the work side of the desk.
Put the frame over it, aligning the mounting holes with the ones you've drilled and insert the fasteners.
It is going to take a lot of pressure to get those plastic "nails" in. Do not bang on them with a hammer, it will only break them. Instead, place the handle of hammer on them and push with your weight, while holding the hammer head with another hand, to prevent slippage.
Step 3: Sand the Countertop
Now that you've mounted the countertop to the frame, it's time to sand the surface.
As with any wooden surface, it needs to sanded for smooth and even texture before applying wax or polyethylene or whatever finish you prefer.
I found that for finishing touches like this, 320 grit sanding paper is perfect. Steel wool is way too fine for this job and it leaves a residue.
You could use an electric sander, but since the surface is not particularly large and is easy enough to reach, doing it manually should not take much time (15-30 minutes).
If you've purchased a letter size sheets of sanding pager, start by making yourself a double sided hand size piece by making a quarter sized piece (fold it in half twice and cut with scissors once).
Once it's smooth to touch, wipe the dust with damp cloth (I've used the a clean piece of cheesecloth) and proceed to the next step.
Make sure to get the corners and sides - nice and smooth.
Step 4: Apply Finish and Enjoy
To ensure longevity and to protect the surface of your beautiful new desk we will use a beeswax based conditioner.
If you have experience with other finishes - use your favorite method. If not, either take my word for it or do some research of your own and even order few different ones and try them out on another piece of wood or part of the bottom surface. I like the feel of natural wood, which is why I prefer using the Butcher Block Conditioner.
Warm up your wax in a hot water bath a la double boiler. You can use larger pot filled with water with a smaller bowl inside, so that the plastic bottle doesn't touch the metal pot directly. Make sure it's thoroughly warm and completely liquid.
Squirt some on clean lint free cloth (microfiber or painter's rug - I've used a small piece of cheesecloth) and rub it in all over, covering every bit of counter top, using more wax as necessary.
Leave it for few hours and remove the excess with a clean cloth afterwards.
It may still be a bit oily and sticky to touch.. Just let it sit for a day and wood will soak it in. If some remains, wipe it again.
You can reapply the wax again, if wood took it well and it dried fast. It's usually best to apply it twice at least.
Enjoy your beautiful new table.
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