Tutorial on how to build these SUPER sturdy and adorable Mod Kid's Chairs... a Land of Nod Knock-off! {Sawdust & Embryos}

How to build a Butcher Block Counter

Hi-Yo, Nick here! So we have had a lot of interest in our butcher block counter that we built for the upstairs bathroom.  For those of you that have so patiently waited for this tutorial… thank you for your patience!

DIY Butcher Block Counter Tutorial www.sawdustandembryos

Awhile back we were given the opportunity to show off one of Moen’s great faucets.  This gave us the push we needed to tackle the upstairs bathroom vanity that’s been on our radar for awhile now. Beth (in all her genius) suggested we build a butcher block to serve as the counter top.  I agreed, so we packed up and took off for lumber.  It so happens that Beth’s late Grandpa was an avid woodworker, stashing several variations of hardwoods and softwoods. We love this because it’s sentimental AND cost effective!

Build your own Butcherblock Countertop {Sawdust and Embryos}

Once we got the lumber, we took it into our local saw-mill/woodworking shop and had them run them all through their planer to get the lumber all the same thickness.  I was quite surprised to find out we had 3 variations of wood (pine,oak, and hackberry).

Note: By Buying grade Common 1 lumber will save you money for this project, you’ll probably spend $40-$60 dollars in lumber and another $5-$10 in getting it planed.

I then ran all the boards through the table saw a setting it a 1/4” thicker than then I wanted the final thickness of the counter top to be.  I set ours at 2 1/4”.

Learn to build your own Butcherblock {Sawdust and Embryos}

Once I had all the boards cut to width, I cut them down into smaller random sizes using our sweet Ryobi Miter saw, and separated the 3 different wood types into 3 different piles.

Building a Butcherblock Counter {Sawdust and Embryos}

Using a flat surface (i.e floor,table, etc…) I taped an outline of the size I wanted the counter.

Oh yeah… see that sweet bandage, napkin and painters tape? YEAH, that was a coping saw incident.  I think the thing has its dark forces that I have yet to overcome!

Build your own Butcherblock {Sawdust and Embryos}

Since there was no logical order, I called in the Artist to lay things out. The most important this was to make sure that the different types of wood were evenly dispersed throughout the butcherblock. Every wood stains differently, so once the stain is added, the ‘character’ of the wood color and grain is really brought out.

Laying out the pieces for the Butcherblock {Sawdust and Embryos} DIY Butcherblock Tutorial {Sawdust and Embryos}

After Beth laid everything out nice and neat, I pushed it all out of my staging area and started gluing.  We use Titebond III, which is waterproof and super adhesive. I started by gluing up the first couple feet and then clamping it down. This serves as a solid stop, so I can hammer these pieces together minimizing the gaps in between pieces.

Butcherblock Tutorial {Sawdust and Embryos}

Then I started working my way down gluing and clamping as I worked my way down the counter.

DIY Butcherblock Counter {Sawdust and Embryos}

Once I got everything glued into place I used a two longer boards on the outside edges to equalize the pressure across the entire countertop.  I then flipped the whole thing over letting it rest on the pipe clamps.

Caution:  If you’re just using the bar clamps like the ones I have in the middle; Trying to flip it will likely cause it to collapse into the air leaving you to bob and weave avoiding the diligently placed pieces that have now turned into wooden projectiles.  Okay that might be an exaggeration… but seriously, unless you want your hours of hard work to go down the drain, use pipe clamps or something that isn’t going to flex creating unnecessary spring tension.

DIY Butcherblock Tutorial (Sawdust and Embryos}

Alright kids, we leave things clamped up for a good 24 to 48 hours letting the glue set.  Now we remove the clamps! Using a square, I cut the excess off the ends, with a circular saw… cutting the length down to size.

You will likely notice that the boards are not perfectly smooth and flat.  Therefore we load it up once more to get it planed at the local sawmill/wood working shop (unless you’re fortunate enough to own a planer).  Have them plane it to your desired thickness.

Note:  Check with the local woodworking shop ahead of time to see what their planning width is.  You might have to do your butcher block in two sections, (which is not a big deal) and will require you to glue and clamp the two pieces together after having them planed.

Building your own Butcher Block Counter {Tutorial by Sawdust and Embryos}

Once I had the length to size I hauled this bad boy into the bathroom for a test fit! Using a compass I traced around my rounded corner shelf, leaving the same distance the front edge of the counter.  Sorry for the lack of photos on this process, Beth must have been chasing the crazies and I… ahhhh… FORGOT.

Now that the butcher block is traced, I got out the Jigsaw. It didn’t take long before I realized this wasn’t going to work. I did what anyone would do, I got out a chainsaw circular saw.

DIY Butcher Block Tutorial {Sawdust and Embryos}

I started cutting away making several cuts to get it close to shape. Then I used a wood rasp to rough it into shape and a belt sander to put the final touches.

DIY Butcher Block Counter Tutorial {Sawdust and Embryos}

Heading to the bathroom yet again for another test fit!


Later that night we routed the corner’s using a 1/4” rounded corner bit and sanded the whole butcher block down.

Custom Bathroom Vanity and Butcher Block Counter {Sawdust and Embryos}

We filled the entire block with a thinned down wood filler, sanding her down again. (don’t mind this terribly yellow-y cell-phone pic)


At this point, everything’s a go for staining, sealing (Epoxy) and drilling holes for the plumbing!

Extending the Vanity and Building a Butcher Block Counter {Sawdust and Embryos}

We are SO in love with the character our butcher block counter brings to our bathroom. It’s such a bold statement piece… AND it has sentimental value since the wood came from Grandpa’s barn!

Here she is in all her glory!

Butcher Block Counter Tutorial (with Mason Jar Backsplash!!)

Check out how far we’ve COME!

Bathroom Progress! {Sawdust and Embryos}

Still on the agenda for the upstairs bathroom:

  • Extend Bathroom Vanity
  • Paint Vanity Base
  • Build Butcher Block Countertop
  • Install Faucet & Vessel Sink
  • Install Mason Jar Backsplash
  • Paint walls
  • Build frame for mirror (tutorial coming soon!)
  • Custom DIY light fixture above the mirror
  • Install ventilation system & overhead light
  • Build shelving above toilet
  • Shower curtain, rugs & towels

If you need to catch up on our bathroom projects, check out the links below!!

DIY Mason Jar Mosaic Backsplash Tutorial PART 1 {Sawdust and Embryos} Glossy Butcher block counter with rugged dry-brushed base {Sawdust and Embryos}
Extending the Bathroom Vanity {Sawdust and Embryos} TUTORIAL- Simple Instructions for Installing a Vessel Sink Faucet {Sawdust and Embryos}

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  • Kenz @ Interiors By Kenz

    I love butcher block counter tops! They are so classic! And they get EXPENSIVE if you order it. I feel like it’s a really solid DIY. I mean, you can’t really DIY granite counters, but butcher block is completely doable. It really puts our faux-butcher block laminate veneer counters (from the 1980’s) in our kitchen to shame. Beautiful!

  • Alyssa

    I think your counters are so beautiful!! They look so so nice and I love the sentimental value too! But, for the sake of being honest, I dont love the color choice on your cabinets. I just don’t think it meshes well with the walls and counters. But that’s just me. :)

    • Anonymous

      Me too. Would look great in white IMHO for what its worth :) The backslash, sink and butcher block are amazingly beautiful. I’m bookmarking this because I’d like to copy and make a headboard, maybe with the grain vertical.Think it would work?

  • Dawn Bowden

    I love your counters!! Great job!! I hate to put a cloud over such hard work but $5-$10.00 to plane the wood? How do you find a saw mill willing to do just a couple of boards and a such a small price? Again lovely job and I don’t want to take anything away but I really struggle with that. You guys do amazing work together!

    • Beth @ Sawdust and Embryos

      Dawn, we had the wood planed twice (once before and once after the counter was assembled). It was between 5-10 dollars each time. Maybe these things cost more in your part of the country?

    • Mike

      Planing wood is a very simple task and shouldn’t cost more than $5-10. My question was, how thick did you get the boards planed to? I’m guessing it doesn’t really matter so long as they are uniform, but I’d like to know if you know. Thanks!

  • Jacque n Matt Knowlton

    Nick, you’ve done a fantastic job here and to see the transformation is awfully impressive! Looking forward to seeing more of your work! -Matt@theDIYvillage

  • Stephanie, Sandpaper and Glue

    love the look of butcher block counters! butcher block all the things!!!! :)

    you’re bathroom looks amazing, it’s really a huge difference!

  • Emily H

    Just wanted to say that the bathroom transformation is awesome!
    Also, I’ll admit I had my doubts about how that vanity was going to turn out. I wasn’t really diggin’ the curved shape on the end with the built-in shelves.
    But, my doubts were all dissipated when you did the big reveal! It looks beautiful. I’ll bet you guys don’t mind spending a little extra time in there… just to sit back and admire its beauty.
    I love the how the counter top and backsplash turned out! And the sink choice and faucet were perfect!

  • Revi

    Wow – your woodworking skills are amazing! I want to redo an existing vanity. I’m going to check out your previous posts! Thanks.

  • Connie Nikiforoff Designs

    Visiting from Better After…

    Two words: Yes and Yes!

  • Stephen Kfoury

    California Butcher Blocks knows it is not that easy to make yours and you did a really great job!
    Very nice outcome too.

  • Katie @ Addicted 2 DIY

    You have no idea how happy I am to have found this post! I am in the process of building a butcher block kitchen island and started having heart palpitations when I realized the prices of purchasing a 60×36″ prefab butcher block. I’m heading to the lumber yard today and will use your tutorial as my guide. Thanks so much! I’ll be sure to include your tutorial link in my blog post once I am all done:)


  • Paul

    Great job! I have been building an island in our kitchen and decided to go with a butcher block top. After a lot of research I was able to find a local lumber yard (BAIRD BROTHERS) that makes these at a reasonable price. A maple top 66 by 36 for 239.00. Includes router cut on sides and tax. Again great job!

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  • Annemarie

    Beth, what did you use as a border at the top of the mosaic backsplash along the wall? Is it 1/4 round piece of wood?


    • Bethany @ Sawdust and Embryos

      Anne Marie, it’s just a tiny trim piece that we got at our local home improvement store. We initially just put it there to make sure we installed our backsplash in a straight line, but decided it actually really makes things look ‘finished’ …so we left it! :)

  • Charlie

    Nice counters, I’m trying to make my own and have one question. How do you put pressure on the finger joints, that run the opposite direction of your clamps?

  • Terry

    Beautiful!! One quick question.
    What did you use thin the wood filler?

    • Beth @ Sawdust and Embryos

      It depends on your filler… if it’s oil based (recommended) use mineral spirits to thin. If your filler is water based, use water! Hope this helps. Send pics when you’re done!!

  • Beth @ Sawdust and Embryos

    We used epoxy to seal the butcherblock. It has held up nicely over the past two years.

    • Chris

      I dont mean to be dense at all but when i think of epoxy i think of and adhesive of some sort. Do you Recall the brand

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  • Chad Weberg

    How thick did you plane the individual boards down to?

    • Beth @ Sawdust and Embryos

      I planed each board down to 7/8″ before assembling them together.