When I was thinking about the Dining Room turned Home Office project, I envisioned a dark, stained desktop that had a reclaimed wood feel to it. I knew that reclaimed wood would probably be expensive to buy or time consuming to try to find. I was inspired by ThriftyDecorChick’s dining room built-ins (I actually played around with the idea of buying pre-fabbed cabinets like she did as well, to try to speed up the build, but obviously nixed that idea). Then I ran into CleverlyInspired‘s DIY countertop and later Sandra at SawdustGirl did a tutorial using 2x4s also, so I thought I was good to go for the desktop!
I bought the 2x4s and had them all set to go. I even bought a table saw–did I mention that yet? I am in love with it! I had been saving for awhile and got the Ridgid R4512.
After I read a few pages of the manual, where they talk about how if you don’t do everything right you will cut off a limb, or die–several times on each page–I was sufficiently spooked about using pine with knots in it. So My Man and I tried to cut off the rounded edges of the 2x4s together, because someone had to catch the 2×4 coming off the saw. We got 1 board done when he started questioning whether this was the best way to go. He thought maybe there was an easier way (and ssshhh, he was right, but I didn’t quite see that at that point…). I humored him, not in a good-natured way though, and did some searching at the box stores’ websites.
I found something called a laminated pine board that had the right dimensions. I wasn’t sure it was going to have the look I wanted, and I think I was a little pouty when we were buying it, but boy was I happy once the first coat of stain went on!
I used 3/4″ plywood as the base under the laminated pine. I chose to use cabinet grade plywood because I could get it in PureBond, which doesn’t off-gas from formaldehyde. I cut the base plywood and the laminated pine board to 16.5″ wide so that once I attached the 1×2 to the front, the desktop would extend 1″ wider than the cabinets. I glued the plywood and pine boards together a day before attaching the face. This is painters tape “clamps” to attach the 1×2 face with glue. I didn’t nail or screw it in–just the tape for a good 24+ period of drying.
***As always, I only use PureBond plywood in my builds because the air quality in my home matters to me. I have used this plywood since the very beginning of my woodworking adventure and I love it. I am now being compensated by PureBond, but I can sleep at night recommending it to you because I was buying it myself long before the PureBond Pledge existed.
The second side I attached needed more convincing that this was a good idea, hence the clamps.
Mitered corners. Make sure the tape makes these corners meet correctly when you are clamping it up.
I think I would like this better if I had faked a cut in the left side so that the corner looked more intentional. Then where it meets would look more decorative. Oh well.
This desktop would be far cheaper going with the 2×4 option, but I think I prefer the look of this one–the pattern is more like a wood floor–and it couldn’t have gotten much easier. My option ran around $100 for 11.5 feet of counter top 17.25″ wide.
The stain is a custom mix that I had since our house was built and the painter used it on one of our mantels. I used it on the DIY Entryway Bench and on the frames for our Family Name Sign and the Geometric Wall Art in the kids’ bathroom. I used a wood conditioner on the desktop before I stained it and I’m so glad I did. I did a test run of the stain on a scrap that was really blotchy without the pre-conditioner. I sanded between coats with 220 grit sandpaper, and then applied polycrylic with a brush. Making sure to sand between coats of that with 320 grit sandpaper, I applied 5 coats of the topcoat in all.
And there you have it! So happy Hubs decided that the 2x4s were not going to go through the saw evenly (I’ve since heard of a way to make that work better and will use it if I build with 2x4s in the future). But don’t tell him… 😉