I cannot believe it, I have finally reached the end of this project. This last little step took about a week to complete and then the staining process alone took about three days. I think this may have been my favourite phase because it was rewarding but also something I had never done before. I had little experience with the previous phases as it was similar to stuff I had dabbled in before. It was the finishing and most obvious piece to this puzzle so it was exciting to see it come together. This is how it all rolled out.
Cutting to the Width:
This was actually a time consuming process. We had an idea of how big we wanted the counter to go but until we saw it in the actual space we were not totally sure. We had originally thought the counter would be 24″. However, once we got it into place we felt it was way too big. It hung over too far and it made the coffee counter in the corner seem out of place. So we instantly cut down to 22″. We liked this better and knew we wouldn’t be able to go too much smaller because then we would have a crowded counter and with young kids… the juice would be on the floor 9 times out of 10. The biggest issue was that it was still in the way of my coffee machine. It was awkward and just wasn’t going to work. So we deicded we would cut the corners. We did this and man it was a game changer. I am sure it is still a little crowded there and it will take some getting used to but it was way better. Plus when little ones run into the corner they are less likely to draw blood!:)
I had ordered the brackets ahead of time because I wanted to make sure I had them for when they were needed rather than waiting on them. We measured everything out but after the changes we found they weren’t quite right. See the picture below. I was panicking. Thankfully my husband was able to work his autobody magic and shaved off the tiny amount that was too long. They were going to work after all. Screwing the brackets into the wall wasn’t as simple as just screwing them into the wall. We had one bracket going into a stud so it could just be installed using a wood screw. The other two required extra support since they were only being screwed into drywall. With little ones leaning on the counter I knew I had to make sure the supports held and didn’t tear down my wall. I did a little research and found that a hollow wall anchor screw was my best option. As an added bonus, the top screw in the brackets fit into the top wood pieces that are laying horizontal so they are secure there too. At the end of the day it took a little more work but it all went smoothly. Everything is level and didn’t even need to be shimmed. I was pretty pumped about that.
The Thickened Edge:
Since the boards we used for the counter top are not as thick as we would like, we have decided to create a thickened edge look. This is why we cut all the edges at a 45 degree angle. We will then cut another piece at a 45 degree angle to make the edges appear thicker. This is what our contractor, Chris did for our other counters he built using the same process. Since we want them to match I copied his approach. I asked him to make youtube videos for me but he declined! So I set off to do some research. I found this video to help me use the miter saw and get a nice clean cut. The nice thing about the Mikita saw Chris lent me, was that it has automatic brakes to stop the saw at common angles. This way it is accurate everytime and I didn’t have to look super closely about making sure my angle was exact. I kept trying to get the angle correct and it would never line up. I was getting super frustrated. I called my contractor and was begging for help. He ended up stopping over. Since we cut the corners off the angle I needed to be cutting at was no longer 45 degrees. Instead, I needed to cut them at 22.5 degrees. I never clued into that and my high school math teacher would be so disappointed. After that slight hiccup we were off. My husband and Chris stayed and watched me plug away at this and found humour in my struggles. In the end it ended up being a pretty fun experience and it all turned out pretty good. I had one slight moment where the blade hit a rough patch and pulled the wood I was cutting. Scared me a bit but no fingers were lost. This happened when I had to hold with my right (dominant hand) and cut with my left. It was an easier way to get the cuts I needed but still was a bit awkward. My measurements and cuts were pretty darn good. They all lined up nicely. I used wood glue and a finishing nailer to attach each piece to the counter top as they were cut. Chris stayed to help with this process as the extra hands for my rookie skills were helpful. It was also nice to have the company and guidance. All edges were attached except for the two sides. We will attach those once we know exactly how much space we need for the wall. It will be easier to do once the counter is installed.
Filler and Sanding:
Now that the edges are installed it is time to make the counter top look good. This means making sure the finishing nails are flush with the board and using wood filler to fill all the gaps and pin holes from the finishing nails. The first step was making sure the finishing nails were all the way in. This little tool of Chris’ helped with that. It is called a Spring Nail Set. You basically put the nail head in the one end. Pull back on the other and then release it to gently hammer the nail in. This is done with little movements. It bounces a bit and if you miss the nail it will leave an imprint on the wood. It took some getting used to but it worked well. Learning the little tricks from Chris has been super handy. Next up, we added wood filler into the center crack to fill the slightly unlevel or gap between the two boards from when we attached them. We also filled the seams from adding the thickened edge. This helped to create a nice finish.
Installing the Counter:
With the counter all prepped and ready we can finally install it. This just means placing it onto the brackets that are already installed and shooting a nailer into the wall section for added support. I needed to add more wood filler for those little holes. After I let the filler sit overnight, I got out the sandpaper and sanded the whole counter. This included the edges. Instead of having square sharp edges, I created a slightly rounded edge. Not only is this nice to touch but it is also less likely to chip through wear and tear of life. When installing the counter we had to adjust the one bracket as it wasn’t quite where it needed to be. I loosened the screws and wiggled it up a bit. It was good to go. I also used a nailer to secure the counter on the wall. I filled the holes with wood filler and gave them a quick sand. Now we keep the kids away from using the counter until it is stained and sealed.
This was a fairly quick process. With the board all prepped I was able to tape the edges and put the stain on. I followed the steps provided in this video I found. I wanted to work quickly so that it didn’t stain too dark and lose the nice grain look that it had. The application worked well and I didn’t drip anywhere. I was able to do this process in about 20 minutes. Wiping off was easy but I did find that some of my sanding was not moving with the grain and it left scratch marks. This was super disappointing. I thought I had done this but apparently I did not in a few spots. Also the wood filler took the stain for the most part except a few spots that I felt it was too thick. This made for a finish I was not totally thrilled about. In the end it all worked out though. For now I need to let the stain dry and then I will put on three coats of sealer. Here are some pictures of the blemishes that showed up after staining.
Overall, I am pretty happy with the way this all turned out. I cannot wait to use it and let the girls enjoy breakfast or whatever else their imaginations come up with at this spot. I know we will be spending a lot of time here. Now that the counter is installed, I am loving the height it is at. I find it is the perfect height to stand by and have a drink and chat. If you have followed along on my journey I want to say thank you! It has been fun! It will get a little darker with the sealer on but here is the final product!