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Wood Countertop for bar

willyx2's picture

Looking for some interesting ideas on building a wood bar countertop 20" x 18' (with sink but minimal exposure to moisture-due to not using the sink) and cant find many examples, construction techs.  etc.  Hardwood plywood, glue up planks, even thought of buying solid hardwood floor (plank or ??) and using a bar top finish.  Granite wont work with the room, tile not an option, need a "warm" look!?


Any leads would be appreciated


Thanks in advance.  Willy

(post #88013, reply #1 of 32)

Not sure what you mean by "interesting", but I have a 1-1/2" thick cherry countertop on one of the counters in my kitchen. It's not stained, but is naturally darkened cherry, treated periodically with oil. We don't baby it -- we eat on it, cut & chop on it, etc. (I kinda like the "working kitchen" look as opposed to the shiny furniture look.) It's held up fine for almost 10 yrs. now.


It's made of butt jointed lengths of 2" square stock, biscuit joined and glued with poly. I made it in 8"+ wide sections so I could run it through the planer, then joined 3 sections together for a 24"+ top. Back splash is rabbet jointed to the top and not fastened to the wall.


That said, I'd never install a wood counter top near a stove or a sink. We put granite in hot and wet locations. You may wanna consider soapstone -- I love that stuff for kitchens You can work it with normal carbide tooling, and it has a "warmer", softer look than granite.


Mike Hennessy
Pittsburgh, PA
Everything fits, until you put glue on it.

Mike Hennessy
Pittsburgh, PA
Everything fits, until you put glue on it.

(post #88013, reply #2 of 32)

Boos butcher block maple top

 

 


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(post #88013, reply #3 of 32)

Becaseu so many things have already been done (and overdone), the "interesting" part of the request gets a bit tougher.

Piffens suggestion of using butcher block is a good one, and seems to be timeless.

The hardwood of your choice -- a combination of ply and sticks -- is also pleasing and lasting.

If you want different, then you need to think way outside of the box. Contrasting-color species, glued up and laid on a diagonal. Or maybe some sort of parquet that looks like a basket weave.

Butcher-block endgrain, done with multiple species.

Or -- and this might help prevent over-imbibing at the bar -- some contrasting-color species lay-up that gives optical illusions -- like maybe it could look like different heights even though the surface is smooth.

I don't know if membership is required to look at the gallery at FineWoodworking.com -- if not, then go look at some of the stuff in their gallery. I don't remember seeing any bartops, but there are a number of contrasting-color pieces that might give you an inspiration.

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. . . I can't live proud enough to die when I'm gone, So I guess I'll have to do it while I'm here. (Phil Ochs)

(post #88013, reply #4 of 32)

I have teak countertops in my kitchen. Been in maybe 12 years?

Four planks edge glued, biscuits and west systems epoxy, total about 30" deep by 18' long with a little "L" kickout at the end.

I have an undermount sink. It's a working kitchen, heavily used. I use mineral oil on it, maybe once or twice a year.

No heavy wear, only ding is one small dent from something dropped. Nothing adverse from the sink.

While some cutting is done on the countertop, most of the cutting is done on a roughly 4' square, 5" thick teak end-grain butcher block that I use as an island end-cap.


There are 10 kinds of people in this world; those who understand binary and those who do not.


(post #88013, reply #5 of 32)

Willy, I wanted to add this: lots of inspiration photos on http://www.brookswood.com/

With your setup you can use a film finish for maximum wood protection and virtually any wood.

Wood flooring can be used, it has been used in the past by some on this forum. But you can get a better effect and fewer seams/joints by using species lumber.

You could get a cool effect by going with end-grain slices. Example, 4" x 4" end-grain squares (or any other size), you can mix and match species, one species for the field, another for a border, etc. Mount the slices on plywood with Bostiks Best and then install.


There are 10 kinds of people in this world; those who understand binary and those who do not.


(post #88013, reply #6 of 32)

Not wood, but I think copper is an interesting, and warm look for a bar top.  There's a brew pub in Ann Arbor, Michigan (can't think of the name now) that has a copper surface.  The bartender  told me that they clean it once a week with salt.  I think if it was me I'd just wipe it down once in a while and let it develop a patina.

(post #88013, reply #7 of 32)

willyx2


  Buy a chunk of solid wood say 2 or 4 inches thick that size.. In white oak it would cost you (around here) $8.00  White oak sells for .80 a bd.ft. that would be 10 bd.ft. @ 4" thick. 


 Plunk it down, plane it, let it air dry and then varnish it. 


  White oak is decay resistant.  you could select Cherry too that would be much more expensive though, $16.50 but while it goes on a soft pink with time and exposure to sunlite it will deveope a beautifully rich dark red almost black patina. 


 Actually I suspect it would be easier to plane the raw sawn marks off it before you plunk it down  but that didn't have the same ring to it..


  Also I don't really believe they would sell a piece 20 inches long at the sawmill. You'd probably have to take an 8 foot long one  in white oak that would be $38.40 and in cherry that would be $79.20


  There are plenty of other woods available too..  


 

(post #88013, reply #8 of 32)

20" wide. 18 feet long.


There are 10 kinds of people in this world; those who understand binary and those who do not.


(post #88013, reply #10 of 32)

OK just double the number I gave and add $1.60 for the white oak and $3.30 for the cherry.


  Oops missed that,, thanks for catching it for me.

(post #88013, reply #9 of 32)

wouldn't a solid plank be more prone to warping and splitting?



 


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(post #88013, reply #11 of 32)

Splitting comes from the ends drying too fast.. to prevent that you should seal the ends with whatever finish you intend to use.  Warping can be prevented if screwed down to the base while it dries.. Since it's unlikely that you'd like to see the fasteners you should probably screw it in from the bottom  although a real design statement could be made by countersinking the screws deep enough to put plugs in from the top. The plugs could be either made from scraps from the ends of the planks made with a simple (and cheap) plug cutter.  (My sawmill always provides me with at least 6 inches of extra length) or you could make them with a contrasting wood to highlite the plugs.


 Just for information out of the 10's of thousands of planks and timbers I bought less than 1% split on the ends even when I didn't seal them.. however I air dried them outside and tarped them to prevent the sun from drying them out too fast..


  Some of the oak timbers did warp on me but never enough that I couldn't plane them straight and flat.  However fair warning.. when wood dries it's more than 10 times as hard to plane.. It's extremely easy to work green and if screwed down should dry nice and flat. 


 So plane it, plunk it down, and then dry it!


 New thought,


 Perhaps you ment the plank could check  (differant from a split)   yes, that is possible depending on how fast you dry it.. so you can avoid it by getting either 1/4 sawn or the center cut in a flat sawn bole (center cut winds up being 1/4 sawn)   lacking that put the growth rings down and then seal the top to prevent it from drying too fast and checking..  Checking always occurs from outside in because the outside dries faster than the inside. by putting the growth rings down even if it does check it will do so on the bottom..


Edited 10/7/2009 11:50 am ET by frenchy

(post #88013, reply #16 of 32)

screw it tight in place while green and it is gauranteed to either split or pull the cabinet around as it moves, or pop the screws

 

 


Welcome to the
Taunton University of
Knowledge FHB Campus at Breaktime.
 where ...
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We did the best we could...

(post #88013, reply #20 of 32)

Not if you elongate the holes to allow the screws to move horizontally but not vertically..


 This is standard stuff for building furniture.  They even make special fixtures to do it..


 As I said you deal with splits by sealing the ends so they don't dry out to fast and cause stress fractures and you deal with checks by either using 1/4 sawn wood or center cut wood if it's  it's plain sawn..


 You could also deal with checking by putting it growth rings down so any checking occurs on the bottom side where it can't be seen.


  It's unlikely to check anyway since he'll seal the top first and leave the bottom open to let moisture out.. Because it's screwed down it won't cup which it would if it wasn't screwed down..


 Out of the tens of thousands of boards I had even though I didn't seal amny of them before I air dried them less than 1% had any splits and none that were in a stack ever warped..


 Checking comes because the inside is still wet while the outside has shrunken and dried up.  Since you are preventing the wood from checking by putting the growth rings down and sealing the top. all those issues aren't issues if you know how to deal with them..

(post #88013, reply #22 of 32)

Now, I know you are a big guy, but how are you going to handle a 4-6" thick by 20" wide by 18' long green white oak to fit it into place.

Don't you think you are being a bit rediculous?

Getting a piece that long cut in such a way that all the grain can lie face down?

At the price you mention?

You are a hoot

 

 


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Taunton University of
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(post #88013, reply #23 of 32)

Lets' wander through my house and check on how many timbers that long and longer I've moved around.. (look at the pictures)  If you're by yourself you lift one end at a time.. and it's not that difficult. If I'm on one floor It's really simple to use a furniture dolly . set the plank on it and give it a push.. rolls pretty easily. Outside I made a cart with bigger pneumatic wheels to get big timbers from the back to the front when I didn't have enough room on the sides of the house to drive a telehandler through. 


 Going up stairs I'd usually get someone to help me but again it wasn't a problem at all. just think things through before and you'll figure out a way..


 The bole on any tree large enough to create the size plank we're talking about is going to be pretty straight or the sawyer will cut it into 8.5 foot lengths.  (or maybe an 8 and a 10 if that's what the market is..


 As for price?   Go to hardwood market report, www.hmr.com  to verify the prices I've given you..

(post #88013, reply #24 of 32)

when you find white oak, that straight and clear, it is a premium price, not run of the mill.

And no two people are going to handle it green without machinery

I am adressing the idea of doing something practical which you are ignoring.

 

 


Welcome to the
Taunton University of
Knowledge FHB Campus at Breaktime.
 where ...
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(post #88013, reply #26 of 32)

You are kidding aren't you?   I mean I handled much bigger timbers by myself  in order to plane them, cut mortice and tennion etc  The biggest was a 12"x 12" 24 feet long..


  


 Oh sure when I could set them with the telehandler I sure did but it wasn't impossible to muscle it with help.. Leverage and balance did the vast majority of the work..


  All my timbers are Mill Run.  A lot of them if they were first cut of the bole were pretty straight and knot free. Look at the pictures..  Please remember that I hate straight grain wood.. It's too boring. So I always put the side with the most character out.


   Heavy timbers like that I would walk up or down the stairs (with help)  and never dead lift it..

(post #88013, reply #29 of 32)

http://forums.taunton.com/tp-breaktime/messages?msg=125460.9

In this thread you say you can control green timber checking, but in the other one, you make it clear that green is not adequate for an elegant situation

 

 


Welcome to the
Taunton University of
Knowledge FHB Campus at Breaktime.
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We did the best we could...

(post #88013, reply #30 of 32)

Piffin.  apples and oranges.


 One we had someone who wanted to do furniture grade work quickly and another we had the time to slowly air dry wood as it needs to be done in order to prevent checking..


  Slow air drying carefully covered will allow timbers to dry slow enough not to check. the other we're going to haul a green plank indoors and us it in a furniture type application.. As I said the wood on the bar top would check it's simply that the check would be  on the bottom where it wouldn't show..


 Timbers are more complex than that.. the stress of checking comes from the inside being original size due to lack of moisture loss while the outside has shrunk.  If you can see the center of the timber and you can face the side closest to the outside in a direction it won't be seen then you can control where the check will occur under the rapid dry out (AND RESULTING SHRINKAGE)   of the surface layer. 


 Like I said if the point the check will burst through the timber is towards one side simply by placing that side away from visibility  will prevent the check from being seen..


However that will not prevent the shrinkage of the timbers and the resulting loose fitting joints..


 None of this stuff should be new to you.. You should know all of this and I assume that you're simply checking on if I know my stuff or not..

(post #88013, reply #15 of 32)

He wants to let it have three years to dry before he planes it. That way, it will be done warping and checking and dancing.

 

 


Welcome to the
Taunton University of
Knowledge FHB Campus at Breaktime.
 where ...
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(post #88013, reply #12 of 32)

My first place to look - if, for nothing else but to learn what's easily available- is this link: http://www.chdist.com/shop-equipment/workbench-components/b-791


Note the wood ones are made by John Boos; more info is available on their site. I do not know if their tops come with any finish - I suspect there is one - but, if not, you can stain the birch quite nicely. Also note the 'safety edge'  that can be done.


Wisconsin bench has some possibilities, with their "Duratop" and "Dynatop" products.


ALSO ... check the local home centers and lumberyards for "wideboard." This is a similar product, made from pine, typically available in 1-1'2" thickness.


Unless you have a skilled hand with the portable planer, you're not going to be able to make this counter in one length. How you handle the seams will greatly affect the outcome of the job.


 If you simply MUST have a single length top, I suggest building a wood floor atop an MDF base, then sanding it flat. (For all I know, you could also do this with Pergo, and skip the sanding!)  Using flooring also introduces the possibility of using bamboo.


Finally, for the finish ....


For food surfaces, simple mineral oil will work just fine. It is a finish that does need to be removed (wipe with oven cleaner) and refreshed periodically. Personally, I have had great success with ordinary cooking oil, but others seem worried that cooking oil will 'go rancid.'  I have not had that problem.


Otherwise, I'd want some form of penetrating finish, not a hard glossy shell at all. You want a finish that you can repair, and that will survive a scratch. If you want more 'shine,' I suggest paste wax.

(post #88013, reply #13 of 32)

I'm not terribly skilled with a plane so what I do is once I've removed the rough cut saw marks with the plane I then smooth the whole thing out with a belt sander.. followed by  hand scraping it.. The hand scraping really leaves a gloosy smooth finish that's ready to shellac. 


    

(post #88013, reply #14 of 32)

We did this. Everyone that comes in and sees it drops their teeth. The wood's Matumi with a live edge. 18' may be hard to find (our piece was 14' and we used the section that bowed out). The bar is about 7' long and we have a 2' piece and a 5' piece which we're going to make a fireplace mantel out of.


Runnerguy

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(post #88013, reply #17 of 32)

That'll be real nice as soon as you get that live edge cut off and finished!

;)

 

 


Welcome to the
Taunton University of
Knowledge FHB Campus at Breaktime.
 where ...
Excellence is its own reward!

 

 

Oh Well,

We did the best we could...

(post #88013, reply #18 of 32)

Yeah, I probably should notify my insurance company. just a matter of time before some guy reaching for his martini gets a splinter and I get my [JOBSITE WORD] sued off.


Seriously earlier you mentioned attaching wood. I was a little concerned about that too. Didn't want to screw or glue it in and have the possibility of some splits appearing. So it's just there by weight alone, free to micro expand and contract if it wishes. It weighs over 100 lbs. so it's not going anywhere


Runnerguy

(post #88013, reply #19 of 32)

There are ways of using screws for seasonal movement.

But I had to correct frenchies gross mis representation of how adequately he could do this with white oak 20" wide and 4-6" thick! That piece could easily move an inch or more and is strong enough to break screws or pull a cabinet apart

 

 


Welcome to the
Taunton University of
Knowledge FHB Campus at Breaktime.
 where ...
Excellence is its own reward!

 

 

Oh Well,

We did the best we could...

(post #88013, reply #32 of 32)

Nice piece ... and 6/1 windows like ours ...

(post #88013, reply #21 of 32)

I'm surprised that you haven't posted this over on the Knots forum. Those guys have a wealth of experience with furniture work and interesting wood types.

BruceT
BruceT

(post #88013, reply #25 of 32)

I build a lot of wood bar tops. most are quarter sawn white oak. 18 feet long is going to be difficult without butt seams. I have the mill where I buy it from plane and straight line rip the wood. then I run it through my shaper with a jointing head. glue it up keeping the top as flat as possible


I give it a day to dry then I get busy with a jack plane just to take out the high spots, then sand. I seal the underside of the top with 2 coats of poly. I mount the wood top to a piece of 3/4" shop grade maple or birch by drilling oversized holes in the plywood then screw it loosely with fender washers. the underlayment is mounted to the bar cabinet


if you can make out the drip tray in the picture, that is just another piece of wood biscuited to the plywood underlayment, then the cut out in the top is formed, cut back about 4 inches and laid over that. the top is glued to the drip tray but not to the underlayment.


I use tung oil on my tops. it is alchohol resistant and easy to buff out blemishes. the typical top has 6 or 8 polished coats then a final heavy coat for a glossy finish


good luck


 


 

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(post #88013, reply #28 of 32)

finally sensible advice.

 

 


Welcome to the
Taunton University of
Knowledge FHB Campus at Breaktime.
 where ...
Excellence is its own reward!

 

 

Oh Well,

We did the best we could...