How many burners do you ever use simultaneously? The most I've ever used at a time is 3 when I'm cooking a big spread for a bunch of friends. I almost always only use one or two at a time. With limited counter space in my apartment kitchen, I'm always precariously balancing plates and cutting boards on the unused burners while I'm cooking. The Stove Top / Counter Top gives you an extra 275 square inches of counter space and doubles as a cutting board!
Step 1: What You'll Need
- Tape Measure & Square
- Saws (table saw & compound miter saw or hand saws & circular saw)
- Drill (drill press or hand drill)
- Planer & Jointer (or use finish-cut lumber)
- Clamps (bar clamps, pressure clamps, quick clamps and ratchet straps were used here)
- Wood Glue
- Sandpaper (80 grit stepping down to 180 grit)
- Wood: I used rough cut 1X6 (3/4" X 5 1/2" actual dimensions) planks of maple.
- Blocks: I used a 2X2 (1 1/2" X 1 1/2" actual dimensions) cedar member.
- Adjustable Feet
- Butcher Block Oil Finish
Step 2: Measure the Stovetop
These can vary pretty widely, but the one in my apartment a pretty standard 30" Gas oven with stovetop. The surface of the stove may not be level, so measure from the top of the burners to the lowest point of the stove surface. A 1 3/4" space on the inside of the block is enough to give clearance to the burners on my stove.
I decided to make the block the full length of the stovetop and half the width. On my stove, that comes to 20 " deep by 13 3/4" wide.
Step 3: Choose the Wood and Measure It
There's plenty of info online for cutting boards. The most common species seems to be Maple because it's a tight grain non-porous wood- the last thing you want is bacteria thriving in the open pores of your cutting board. I went with maple because it wasn't too expensive and it matches all the Ikea stuff in my kitchen pretty well.
I started with four 3/4" X 6" X 4' rough cut boards. The cutting surface will be 3/4" thick laminated boards with a 3/4" skirt around it (the open space inside the box hides the burners).
If you're using rough cut wood, it's important to measure it in several places with calipers. The actual thickness will vary, and you'll need to know what the maximum is when you're jointing and planing.
Step 4: Planing / Jointing
These boards are rough cut, meaning they're uneven, warped, not square, not plumb... Thankfully we have an awesome planer and jointer at Pier 9. I was taught to do it this way:
1. Edge Jointing
2. Surface Jointing
The end result is a pile of perfectly square boards that are exactly 3/4" thick (the rough ones are actualy around 7/8" thick at their maximum).
You can save yourself this step by buying boards that are already precision cut.
Step 5: Cutting the Pieces
I divided the width of the top surface by 3 and cut three boards to that width on the table saw- these will be laminated later.
I cut a few lengths of 1 3/4" wide boards to make the skirt and mitered those on a radial arm saw. This is easy to do with a hand saw and a miter box if you don't have one of those. The sizes for the skirt are as follows:
2X 1 3/4" X 3/4" X 13 3/4"
2X 1 3/4" X 3/4" X 20"
Since the board is going to have adjustable feet, I cut some 1 1/2" X 1 1/2" X 1" cedar blocks for the feet to screw into using t-nuts.
Step 6: Gluing Part 1
To make the top surface, I laminated the three wide boards on edge. To make sure everything was flush, I clamped both on the sides and on the top of the boards. I used a sheet of acrylic as a clamping surface so that I wouldn't glue the boards to the workbench. I think wax paper is the typical way to do this, but the acrylic was lying around and I can re-use it for other projects.
To make the square-edged frame, I used a ratchet strap and clamped it to the table. I then added the four 1 1/2" X 1 1/2" X 1" wooded blocks to the inside of the frame corners- these will be drilled out later for the adjustable feet.
Step 7: Cutting & Gluing
After the glue cured, I un-clamped everything and cut the top surface to 13 3/4" X 20" on the table saw (this could easily be done with a handheld circular saw if you don't have a table saw).
After sanding the top part of the skirt to avoid any gaps in the sides later, I glued and clamped the whole box together making sure to keep the edges as flush as possible.
Step 8: Adjustable Feet
Next, I drilled holes in the blocks on the under side of the box for the t-nuts. The drill press ensures a perfectly plumb hole, but this could also be done with a hand drill.
The t-nuts have little teeth that pierce the wood when hammered in. Then I checked the depth of the holes by screwing in the adjustable feet and making sure they could go all the way down.
Step 9: Routing Edges
To get some nice consistent 1/4" radius edges all the way around, I used the table router. Make sure you take the adjustable feet out before you do this step!
You ease your edges with a palm sander (or a sanding block) if you don't have access to a router.
Step 10: Sanding and Finishing
You really want to go as fine as possible with the sanding and finishing to make it easy to clean. This is the part I always rush through with wood projects, and I always regret it later.
There was a very tight fit between the skirt and the top when I glued them together, but there were still some hairline cracks. I made my own wood putty with sawdust from the palm sander's collector and a dollop of wood glue. There are endless varieties of wood putty, but this is a quick way to be sure your putty will match the wood.
There were a couple of hair width gaps in the glue joints, I filled those by mixing sawdust with glue to make my own wood filler that matches the wood.
Then I sanded the whole thing down to 180 grit making sure to get all the little surface inconsistencies.
After 3 coats of Butcher Block & Cutting Board oil, it's ready to go!
Step 11: Finished Product
I wouldn't call it dishwasher safe given the hardware on the underside, but the butcher block oil makes for an easily cleanable surface. One unexpected plus is that the height of it allows you to swipe chopped food into a pan without having to pick up the cutting board. Having your cutting surface so close to the burners makes cooking a lot quicker.