The Butcher Block Desk

 

Thanks for checking out the full article! 

Full video build is below, followed by detailed instructions with tools and measurements! You can subscribe to my YouTube channel by clicking here!

I have been really excited to build this project. This was one of those projects that was simple and complex all at once, with the goal being that the final result comes off as very minimal and sleek looking.

I did my research and couldn't really find any cool projects involving skinny modern desks, but knew I wanted a cool butcher block look to my desk - so I got to work. 
 

MATERIALS

10 x 1" x 2" Red Oak Slats (buy from a local hardwood dealer!)
4 x 28” Three Rod Raw Steel Hairpin Legs
Natural Danish Oil
TiteBond II Wood Glue
1.5” Brad Nails 
Frog Tape

    I purchased 10 x 8 ft Red Oak slats at Home Depot in their premium hardwood section by the lumber. About $126 worth which was way too much money for wood (that I later found out...). I wanted my desk to be about 5 feet in length and just under a foot wide, so purchasing 10 was perfect for this project BUT left me very little wiggle room on the back end - so be aware of that. 

    I clamped my wood together and cut it all at once on the miter saw - taking it slow to avoid any tear out. I cut 10 slats into 61", leaving me another 10 at 35" which I could then mix into the larger slats to make the final desk width, as seen in the third pic above. 

    Next up, because I wanted a butcher block look to my desk, I went in an marked and taped up (again to avoid tear out) a bunch of additional areas that I wanted to cut further. This technique works great - highly recommend the tape!

    Once I had cut everything, I went back and rearranged pieces, flipped them over, swapped them for pieces of similar length, etc. just to mix up the variety of the grain. 

    I then removed the tape and began the glue up. I took this once slat at a time, making sure to apply a shitload of glue to maximum squeeze out and keep everything flat to the wood as well as the ground. I did this by gluing up a piece, pushing it against the other piece of wood, clamping it temporarily in place, then using finish nails to keep it there temporarily and avoid slipping in the final clamp up. 

    I used about 11 clamps overall for the final clamp up and it was just the right amount. After your glue has settled for roughly 30 minutes, i went in and wiped and scraped off all of the excess you can to make the clean up the next day easier. 

    I let it cure for roughly 20 hours (12 should do just fine!)

    I then squared everything up on the miter saw the next day, taking me to my final length. I forgot tape here, so if you choose to not use tape on your square ups, just take the cuts slow. My stock carbide blade on my miter saw handled it just fine. 

    Next was sanding (and in this order):

    60 grit (belt sander)
    90 grit (orbital sander)
    120 grit (hand sanding)
    220 grit (hand sanding)
    220 grit (wet hand sanding to raise grain)
    320 grit (hand sanding)
    400 grit (hand sanding)

    This thing was incredibly smooth by the end. I recommend using scrap wood to put on the outside of your piece if you use pipe clamps like I do as it allows you to get to all the edges with now issues. 

    BTW - a router jig sled or a thickness planer can solve a good portion of the tedious flattening process I went through. I just don't have either nor can I afford them or store them anywhere. 

        

    Big shout out to The Hairpin Leg Co for their support in making this project happen. Cheers boys. 

    Next, I attached the legs. I measured 1" in from each corner using my rafter square to mark a location to put my legs. I then marked and predrilled holes for my screws, and then secured the hardware using 4 x screws for each hairpin leg that were provided. They are very sturdy.

    Make sure you don't drill through your desktop - you can use tape to help indicate a depth to drill to on your drill bit if you have any reservations. About 3/4" should do just fine for you.

    Last up was finishing. I used a natural Danish Oil finish. I love Danish Oil as it soaks into the wood nicely leaving a very smooth finish that brings out the grain and protects the wood but still allows you to feel that grain when you touch your project. I applied two coats 30 min apart, letting the oil soak in each time and harden, then wiped off the excess. After 24 hours and one final wipe down, I was all done!

    Couple of final shots for you. Now this thing is not perfectly flat, which is a product of using only sanding to get it down. Not an excuse, but hard to monitor sometimes and even harder to perfect. If I ever have convenient access to a planer I might run it through a few times and reapply oil as it will be even flatter. But whatever, right?

    TOOLS

    RYOBI 10 in. Sliding Compound Miter Saw
    RYOBI Miter Saw Stand
    RYOBI Cordless Orbital Sander
    RYOBI Belt Sander
    RYOBI Cordless Brad Nailer
    RYOBI Drill Bit Set
    BESSEY Economy 2.5” x 12” Clutch Clamps
    BESSEY Economy 2.5” x 24” Clutch Clamps
    BESSEY H Style Pipe Clamps
    12” Rafter Square
    Hammer
    Rubber Mallet
    Hand Sanding Sponges  (120, 220, 320, and 400 grit) + Spray Bottle
    5-Gallon 4.5 Peak HP Wet Dry Vacuum 
    Tape Measure
    Air Compressor

    FILM / EDIT EQUIPMENT: 

    Canon Rebel EOS T2i:  
    Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II Lens
    Rode Microphone
    Voice Recording
    Adobe Premiere (Editorial)

    Thanks for reading! I would be so grateful if you could please subscribe to my new Youtube Channel for future projects. I put out videos every two weeks.

    Cheers!

    Zach

     

    How to build a Stump Side Table

     

    Thanks for checking out the full article! 

    Full video build is below, followed by detailed instructions with tools and measurements! You can subscribe to our YouTube channel by clicking here!

    I was in Mammoth back in May of 2016 and happened to come across a tree that had been cut down into a bunch of stumps sitting on the side of the road. They seemed awesome, so I snagged a few for future projects. After letting them dry out for the better part of a year and losing most of their weight in water, I finally decided to make something of them. This was part one of the stump projects!

    MATERIALS
    1 x Stump (I think it's oak)
    3 x 10" Hairpin Legs
    9 x wood screws (size 8)
    Semi Gloss Polyurethane
    Bleach (to clean the wood)

    Here is the stump as it was before starting. It was in great shape and cut nearly flat already which was a huge bonus. If you don't have a stump that is already flat, you can flatten it using either a hand planer or, if you have access to one and feel comfortable using it, a chain saw.

    I think this is oak wood...but I really don't know. 

    I spent a good half hour using a chisel and mallet to debark the stump. My back hurt a lot after this. You can see in the up close that this tree was likely already dead due to the bark beetle infestation plague California, thus why it was likely cut down for scraps in the first place. Oh well, at least I got something out of it...

    Then it was on to sanding. I used my belt sander at 60 grit to take off most of the rough stuff. Drone shots of sanding are a must!

    This took a considerable amount of time given how rough this log was. For anyone looking to their own DIY project, it is completely up to you on how much you want to take down the roughness of your stump as each person might want something slightly different for their home. 

    After using the belt sander, I used my orbital sander at 90 grit to begin rounding the edges, followed by a pass with my sanding block at 120 and 200 grit to get a good smooth finish.

    I also lightly wiped bleach, washed it off, and let it dry again as there were parts of the wood that had a bit of stain due to small amounts of mold from sitting around for so long - not necessary for every project, but this is a method I read about for keeping the wood healthy long term.

    I also did a round of wet sanding in this to raise the grain and smooth further. 

    I had two stumps, so here is a difference between my smoothed down stump and a stump I had only debarked. Crazy right? The right stump would still have made for a cool looking project in this form! 

    I then moved to finishing. I have tried various methods for stump projects, but had stumbled upon a really cool (old) website that seems like it is no longer updated that had a cool gallery of naturally finished stump projects. I wanted to avoid oils or stains, so I chose instead to just use a semi gloss poly finish to bring out the grain and make the stump shine using just it's natural look. 

    I started with a coat of wipe on poly, but then quickly switched to brush on poly as it wasn't very thick nor was it doing the job of bringing out the beauty I wanted. 

    I applied four total liberal coats of poly onto my stump in total, letting each one dry properly then sanding down with 120 an 220 grit sandpaper in between each coat to keep it smooth and clean. After my final coat, I upped my sanding further using 320 and 420 grit paper. These things were VERY smooth!

    Lastly, I added a set of three hairpin legs (10" in my case) to the bottom. I chose 10" because I wanted my table to be a certain height. Each project will have individual needs. 

    To do this, I marked out where I'd want my legs to go - in this case, it was just around the center and was relatively easy to line up things. I then marked and predrilled holes for my screws, and then secured the hardware using 3 x wood screws for each hairpin legs. 

    I love the look of this type of hardware - it literally can take any DIY wood project and up its coolness factor immedietely. 

    IMG_0535.JPG

    Final picture of the stump. Up close, the wood grain looks awesome and the shiny smooth finish of the poly brings out the natural finish of the tree in an amazing way. 

    I love knowing I took something dying and left for scrap firewood and made something fun and unique out of it. 

    TOOLS
    RYOBI Cordless Orbital Sander
    RYOBI Belt Sander
    RYOBI Power Drill
    RYOBI Drill Bit Set
    Rubber Mallet
    Hand Sanding Sponges (120, 220, 320, and 420 grit)
    Chisel
    5-Gallon 4.5 Peak HP Wet Dry Vacuum
    Tape Measure
    Paint Brush
    Air Compressor

    FILM / EDIT EQUIPMENT: 
    Canon Rebel EOS T2i:  
    Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II Lens
    Rode Microphone
    Voice Recording
    Adobe Premiere (Editorial)

    Thanks for reading! I would be so grateful if you could please subscribe to my new Youtube Channel for future projects. I put out videos every two weeks.

    Cheers!

    Zach