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Disclaimer: Woodworking can be dangerous. You follow these instructions at your own risk. I can not take responsibility for any problems or injuries. This is a rough guide, not a complete step by step. If you decide to attempt this project, make sure you plan adequately and do not assume this guide is complete.

Boos Blocks Kitchen Counter - Introduction

Intro | Island Top Installation | Counter Top Base Construction | Counter Top Installation | Finishing Touches

This was a long multi-stage process so make sure you plan accordingly.

    click for a larger image

For a long time I've wanted to expand my kitchen into the dining room to create some extra storage and/or counter space. Here is a picture of the dining area (this picture is from the previous owners so I erased all the furniture).

Tne big question was how to lay it out, and how to actually build it. Should I buy pre-made cabinets? Could I find models that match my kitchen? Should I build solid wood cabinets myself? How closely can I match my cabinets? What specialty tools would I need? What do I do about the carpet? What if I need to remove it all again when I move out?


I played around in Photoshop to see what kind of options I liked. Since my pantry is small, I first thought that it'd be nice to put in a large closet/pantry. Unfortunately, I feel like that would take up too much space and make the dining room seem even smaller.


Then I thought about a partial closet/counter combination, but it still seems odd to have a big tall protrusion in the wall.


So then I thought about just a counter extension with small closets. I liked this idea but thought the doors might look funny and be a bit of a pain with the carpet.


I decided against closets or cabinets and started thinking about a more open design and got this.


I didn't really like the big wall in the middle so I took that out and it looked better. Then my ideas stalled for a while.

Months later, I was talking to Caroline and Eric about a table they ordered from John Boos Blocks, a well respected butcher block company in Effingham, IL. John Boos supplies butcher blocks to Chicago restaurants like Charlie Trotter's and Blackbird as well as many other companies, including the Food Network. I even saw one at a Sodexho cafeteria when travelling to a client site in Connecticut.


I really liked the idea of butcher block counter and the prices were reasonable in the Boos catalogue. Plus, I could install a wood counter myself, so I decided that would be the right choice.

Then I realized that I don't need a wall separating the kitchen from the dining room and that it would be nicer to have more cubby holes to put things like my recycling bins (and provide better support for the counter). Here is the rough design that I moved forward with.


Working out the details was a bit more difficult.

I decided to build 2x4 framing covered with dry wall so it will look integrated with the rest of the house. Here are the plans I drew up. I've tried to update it based on any corrections I made but there could be errors. As they say, measure twice, cut once!

Grey = drywall, yellow = pine lumber, brown = trim, black=walls/absolute measurements

With my measurements, I called up the store manager to custom order the counter top, backsplash and island top. After giving Eric's name, he offered me a nice discount off the catalogue price.

A few weeks later, I got the call that the pieces were ready so I drove down to Effingham to pick them up. The tricky part was how to transport a counter top that is 9 feet long and about 150 pounds.


People always ask me why I bought a Forester and this is the reason (in addition to it being as fast as a WRX).

Armed with a brand new pair of roof rails and 8 ratcheting tie down straps (12'-14' each), I got the counter top secure enough to drive 75 on the interstate without a problem.

The great thing about a small company in a small town is they treat their customers well. I didn't think I had placed a large order, but the store manager considered it large and was super nice. Perhaps it was because he misquoted me and had to increase the price a little.

The result was he gave me a special new owner package consisting of an apron, conditioning oil, an herb mincer, a santoku knife and a carving fork, all in a rattan case. In addition, he gave me three free cutting boards: a 12" x 2.25" round board, a 14" x 3" round board and a 9" x 12" x 2.5" rectangular board

He also gave me a really great deal on a pair of reversible 24" x 24" x 1.5" cutting boards.

These boards have a lip on either end so it holds onto the edge of your counter. The boards have a single flat side, great for rolling out dough, and a second side with a large groove to collect liquids, say from a carving up a large roast.

The manager said that these boards aren't made in large quantities so I was lucky to get two. Another reason he gave me a good deal is because they still needed some prep work (they needed to be sanded) which is easy since I have a sander.

I won't say how much they were since I gave one away as a present, but I got over 50% off the retail price.

Costs for materials and some tools is available for download (right).

Here is a list of the tools that I definitely needed:
  • Tape Measure - invaluable for measuring everything twice
  • Mitre Saw & Stand - for cutting lumber and trim
  • 2' and 4' Spirit Level - for checking plumb and level
  • 12" Square - for checking square
  • Power Drill/Screw Gun - for assembling pieces
  • Drill, Philips and Countersink bits - for piloting holes in wood
  • Utility Knife - for cutting dry wall
  • Rasp - for smoothing dry wall
  • Hammer - for fastening trim
  • Saw Horses - for making a temporary work bench, cutting drywall, holding up the counter, etc.
  • Painting Equipment - trays, rollers, can opener, painting tape

  • Here is a list of tools that aren't required but came in handy:
  • Tarp - to help keep things clean
  • Circular Saw & Rip Fence - for trimming wood
  • Jig Saw - for trimming wood in tight spaces
  • Sander - in case you need to cut anything and re-smooth it.
  • Screw Driver - for working on outlets and misc
  • Pliers - for removing staples from wood
  •   Materials and costs
    (MS Excel, 0.2MB)

    Intro | Island Top Installation | Counter Top Base Construction | Counter Top Installation | Finishing Touches

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