Oak Plywood Countertops – Cara’s Office – 6

Today I am working on getting the layer of countertop that is under the real countertop.  I don’t know if the pictures show the work space accurately or not, but I am actually very intimidated by this part of the project.  Our countertop is 23 feet long!!  This will be seen by everyone and needs to look good.  I used MDF for the under countertop part.  I rip them all to 24 inches wide and lay them out so I can start marking all of my cuts.


Now I get to cutting.

Cara's office built-ins-018

Now, don’t you get all jealous about my pink tool belt.  That was my mother’s day gift from my daughter!

Cara's office built-ins-019
Here I am doing a dry fit of the MDF before I drill it in.
Umm, yeah, instead of modeling my pink tool belt, I should have been paying more attention to my cuts.  I had some that were not exactly straight and I had to use a power sander to sand down the MDF to get them correct.

Cara's office built-ins-021


Now that all of the MDF substrate is in, I can start on the actual top that will be seen.

Cara's office built-ins-020


Unfortunately all of the lumber yards in my area only cater to the building industry and are only open 7-4 M-F, so I am unable to get around to them to see my choices of lumber.  Instead I went with the big box store and selected a cabinet grade oak plywood, and oak 1X2 for the facing.  Same as with the MDF, I rip the plywood into 24 inch width and use my Kreg Rip cut!

Cara's office built-ins-022


I also make all of my other markings and use the jigsaw for the smaller cuts.

Cara's office built-ins-024



Cutting wood is always fun!

Cara's office built-ins-023



Now that all of the pieces are cut, I use today to glue and nail down the top.

Cara's office built-ins-025


Cara's office built-ins-026


Now that the countertop is down, I move forward with adding the facing edge.


Cara's office built-ins-027

I use a router with a bit and give the facing a curved edge, since I will be working here every day.  I wasn’t too thrilled about having a sharp edge on my forearms all day.  The router worked like a charm!  I love the smooth round edge.

Cara's office built-ins-028

Next my husband sanded the top of the countertop, while I sanded the facing.  We used 220 grit to get a super smooth finish.

Cara's office built-ins-029


Here it is all ready to be stained.

Cara's office built-ins-030



I really wanted to use Sandra’s method of Waterlox tung oil, however there is no store within a 50 mile radius of us that sells it, therefore I am forced into stain and polyurethane.  To prep the wood, I wiped it down with papertowels and then I wiped it down once with mineral spirits.

Cara's office built-ins-031

Then the fun begins!  I selected an ebony stain.  Because this is oak and is a hard wood, I had to let the stain set for 15 minutes and then iwpe it down.  I repeated the process the next morning.

Cara's office built-ins-032

June 29th, 2013

I applied the second coat of stain and then I went swimming and took a nap and enjoyed the rest of my weekend.  I can honestly say that I.LOVE.IT!!  My countertops turned out better than I could have hoped for.  I still need to put three coats of polyurethane on them, but that will have to wait until tomorrow.

Cara's office built-ins-033

Tags: , , ,

26 thoughts on “Oak Plywood Countertops – Cara’s Office – 6

  1. Manon says:

    Great work! Respect!

  2. Marie Roxanne says:

    Now that is a beautiful color. And I like your poses! You look happy doing this work and keep smiling! It’s contagious.

  3. Janis says:

    This looks absolutely beautiful. How did you butt the ends of the plywood together? I know you didn’t have a sheet that is 23′ long, lol. I’m trying to figure out how to do it in one of my own projects.

    • Cara says:

      We butted them up together. They were too long to clamp, so while one sheet of plywood was nailed down, I took the other sheet of plywood and leaned in with all my weight and kept the connection tight while my husband nailed it in. Ha, and you are are right we did not have a 23′ long piece, however I strategically placed the joints in the bookcase area where I knew that the majority of the seam would be hidden by my books, etc sitting in the bookcase. It doesn’t bother me to see the seam, since I like the “reclaimed” wood look. I think it adds character. Thanks for the nice comment also!

  4. Woodswoman says:

    Great job! I’ve found that Marine spar varnish works great on wood in kitchens. No water marks ever.

  5. Courtney says:

    It looks beautiful! Very nice touch using the router to round the edge.

  6. kristin says:

    That is one loooong workspace! Remind us why all the workroom is needed or the plan for all the space–please! I LOVE how you pose for the camera and show it of with a big smile. Great work!

    • Cara says:

      Hi there, well, the reason for the long work space is three fold. One, I telecommute almost everyday, so I needed an office space, and second, when we moved into this house, we downsized and I lost my craft room so I am working that into this area, and third, the room is very long and very narrow. It was an awkward long space, so we are basically combining the space into a den/craft room/home office. Remember though, almost 10 feet of space will be used by the bookcases, so I won’t have all 23 feet as desk top. I wish though!

      • kristin says:

        Got it–And how fun it will be to get to the organization/decor part too! Great use of space. We all need our craft space. My husband had to buy me a new printer for my etsy shop and although it ranked high he failed to see how large it was! I have no room left in my craft room for it! We can put it downstairs but I am sure you’ll agree having it right there in the same space is the best. Thanks for the reply:)

  7. fawn teresi says:

    Looks great so far!!! This is going to be an awesome workspace when you are done!

  8. Tina B says:

    AMAZING! Nice job! And I covet your pink tool belt…I want one! 🙂

  9. Brittany says:

    lovely. So what kind of space is this? Trying to decide if this sort of thing would hold up in a bathroom.

    • Cara says:

      This is a back den area. I’m sure if you used the right finishes, it would be fine for a bathroom. Sandra could probably answer that question better than me though.

  10. Looking sooooo good!!!

  11. Susan Poll says:

    It looks.fantastic!!!

  12. Bobbi says:

    It looks GREAT! But . . . YIKES . . . don’t ever were gloves when using power tools, very unsafe.

  13. Jenn says:

    You look like such a proud DIY’er, and rightfully so! I can’t wait to see your finished work space.

  14. Ayisha says:

    Things are really looking good Cara. I can’t wait for your reveal.

  15. I absolutely adore dark stained counters. We have them in both our kids bathroom and our homeschool room and dark concrete counters in our kitchen. I also love how you can make such gorgeous counters out of plywood!! It is going to look super lovely!

  16. Bryan says:

    I found your blog just in time for my next project…Great job! 23 feet is huge:) One question…how did you deal with the seams when joining each section of the oak plywood for the countertop?