The Butcher Block Countertop Installation Experience

September 2, 2010

how to, interior work, kitchen

Well, that’s an SEO-laden title, isn’t it? :-p

In a word: IT’S OVER.

It was actually “not too bad.” The anxiety leading up to it was INTENSE, however. I am so glad it’s over. Of course, I have a small 4-foot area to do on the other side, and an island to build with the same countertop, but I am a seasoned veteran now. And THANK THE LORD I do not have to make another sink cut-out hole.


This portion of countertop was 12 feet long, weighing roughly 300 pounds. Four of us hauled it from its storage spot in the living room to the kitchen, on saw horses. From there I measured (and measured and measured and measured), and cut.

I also had to cut furring strips (I opted for stronger 3/4″ plywood strips) and secure them to the cabinet bases. I drilled half-inch holes in them with my spade bit. When we lay the countertop on the base cabinets, I will screw through these furring strips’ holes with a wood screw and washer, and into the underside of the countertop. The reason for this is to allow for the contraction and expansion of the wood countertop throughout the year. The wood can expand and contract as much as 3/8 of an inch from summer to winter; securing washers and screws through large holes allow for the wood to move on the cabinets as it expands/contracts. Failure to do this can cause warping and cracking of the wood. NEVER glue or screw in a wood countertop.


After finagaling with furring strips and scerws for a while, we set the countertop on the cabinets, and secured it.

HALLELUJAH it worked!!


Note the shoes taken off and the exhausted kid lying on the counter....

We collapsed for a while after this. It wasn’t a very difficult job, but like I said, the anxiety of doing it *perfectly* had drained our energy. I knew the hardest job lay before me yet: cutting the hole for the sink.

Cutting the sink hole requires exact measuring. If I went too far back, I would cut into the back of the cabinet, and– worse still– cut too far back for the new Delta faucet install. If I cut too close to the front, I would slice into the support stiles of the cabinet. My new Kohler cast iron sink came with a very helpful template. Believe me, I spent about an hour measuring and centering that piece of paper.


Finally, I decided to take the plunge.


I drilled a starter hole with my spade bit. Then, I set my Black & Decker jigsaw (my new one!) to cut the hole.

IT TOOK FOREVER to cut through the hard maple. Holy cow. I burned through three jigsaw blades, and the wood was smoking. The kids helped me keep the tool steady, and held the flashlight so I could see (we still have no electric lights in the kitchen). When we reached the end of the cut, I screwed a scrap piece of wood across the top, to prevent the heavy cutout piece from collapsing into the cabinet.


It took three of us to haul that heavy piece out of the hole! I strained my back a little, doing so. :-p It was wedged in there tightly. But we finally grappled it out. I’ll clean it up and use it for a future cutting board.



We hauled the heavy cast iron sink (like, 150 pounds?!) into the hole, to test it. Oh my goodness, it fit!

install sink3

I removed the sink. The Hubs will set up the new faucet and drain baskets on the sink before we secure it to the counter. I slathered clear silicon caulk all around the inside of the opening, to seal the wood from moisture.

I am now in the process of treating the counters with Tung oil. It takes quite a bit of time (and stinks like all get-out). I’m using Waterlox sealer/finisher. It’s expensive stuff ($30 a quart), but it’s the best.

While we wait for the sink and plumbing, we’re turning our attention to the floors. I have to finish laying the underlayment (plywood sheets). I then must fill the screw holes and seams with wood putty, and sand them. THEN I can finally start laying my new floor (I chose TrafficMaster Allure flooring). Once the floors are in, we can move in the appliances and rig up the electric stove and gas dryer. I’m HOPING to get this done before school starts! Lord, help me!

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7 Responses to “The Butcher Block Countertop Installation Experience”

  1. Marg Says:

    Love the picture of two sitting on the counter and one lying down. That is quite a good job you did cutting out the hole for the sink. Good job. You should be very proud of yourself. I am excited and I haven’t lifted a finger.
    Take five.
    It has been fun watching the progress without having to help. LOL

    • Mrs. Mecomber Says:

      It has been fun watching the progress without having to help. -Marg

      Marg, I cannot wait until I can say that!! LOL I don’t think I can do this anymore. I think the kids will have to finish the upstairs. It’s hard work, whew!

  2. Jason Says:

    Love your site — the kitchen is really coming along. My wife and I are in the middle of redoing our kitchen and were wondering where you got the butcher block. Thanks!


    • Mrs. Mecomber Says:

      Hi Jason. I got it at Lumber Liquidators, out of Syracuse, NY. They delivered it FedEx. Beware– they only gave me “curbside” delivery. Which means they placed the countertops at the side of the road, and I had to haul it 100 feet back to the house! :S But the company is great and the prices are exceptional. I wish you well!

  3. Secondary Roads Says:

    That’s really looking great. An excellent counter top choice and nicely installed.

  4. Jay Says:

    Oh my word! It looks AWESOME!!!! I bet you are really looking to the first dinner that you will cook in your new kitchen! šŸ˜€