Advice on how to use wood for the top of a buffet...

Rachael S
by Rachael S
I have bought 3 base kitchen cabinets that I am installing into my dining room. They will look like built-ins when all said and done. I want to use wood to make the top/countertop.
What is the best way to do it? What is the best wood to use? What thickness of wood would be best?
* I plan on staining the wood.*
* Measurements will be: 9'.25" wide, (or 108.25"), and 24 1/2" deep.*
Thanks for any and all suggestions, tips and advice!!
  15 answers
  • Rachael, I cannot advice the type of wood but I can for sure say you need stain-able wood. The thickness could be between 1/2"- 3/4". I would suggest the counter top to be cut with an overhang of about 2 inches, This once again depends on you. You may need to finish the edge by using a molding. The rest I am sure the Woodworkers on this site will be able to advise you better.
  • Donna McCrummen Donna McCrummen on Feb 28, 2012
    The type of wood you get depends on the look you want. I prefer mahogany with a rich dark stain. Mahogany has a nice tight grain. Maple is nice. Cherry is good. Oak...uh, no. Of course there is butcher block which can simply be conditioned rather than stained but it all depends on your overall design scheme. Go to a good lumber yard - they will help you pick something and cut it to size. Have them route the edges rather than using moulding. It will be a nice clean look. Good Luck. I hope KMS chimes in here.
  • Gabriel D Gabriel D on Feb 28, 2012
    I think a medium tone wood with either a tight consistent grain and pattern or a more exotic wood like wormwood or birdseye maple would be gorgeous. I do not use a varnish or polyurethane treatment on flat surfaces. If you get a burn you have to do a lot of work to repair and refinish the effected area. I use Clapham's beeswax with lavender scent. It is the best out there. I begin with a generous coat and rub it in well to get down into the pores and then wait a few hours with the heat turned up 10 degrees or so above your normal room temperature. In several hours wipe and wipe and wipe still more. Then buff with your hand and a cotton flannel matereial. Oh, you can turn the heat off now. Then put down another thinner coat of wax and after an hour wipe and buff that well. Repeat two to three times. This will give you some depth and clarity of the woods beauty. You'll be amazed at the waterproof surface and how easy it is to clean. One thing though is never try to apply a sealant like finish such as varnish; shellac or any kind of urethane over a pre-waxed surface without refinishing done to bare, dull wood. It simply will not take properly..
  • Donna McCrummen Donna McCrummen on Feb 29, 2012
    @Gabriel I've tried a lot of waxes sounds like I'll need to get some Clapham's - Briwax is lethally stinky.
  • Designs by BSB Designs by BSB on Feb 29, 2012
    If you plan to manufacture the counter top yourself? I would look at what is available in 3/4" veneered plywood. Call a local cabinet shop and ask what is available.. or google wood supply companies (that sell to cabinet shops). Then buy 1-1/2" solid wood nosing to match (plywood will need 3/4" build up strips under it. Solid wood is expensive and very difficult to glue up without the proper equipment. For a formal area.. solid wood really wouldn't be needed since there would be little activity too. Type of wood? What are the cabinets like? Floor? Maple or Oak will be your most durable and economical - also the most readily available. If you were staining it dark - the specie is not as important.
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Feb 29, 2012
    You did not tell us what the base cabinets are...painted, or real wood...if wood what type? cherry , oak, maple? Also the other woods that may be in this room will need to be considered as well. A maple cabinet with a oak top next to a cherry table would be a bit of an eyesore. As far as thickness goes 6/4 ( 1 1/2") would be my minimum...any thing less would look wimpy and unbalanced with the scale of the whole thing. 8/4 ( 2" thick) would be my first choice. Too save some $$$ an applied "edge" could be installed on thinner stock to give the look of a thicker top. Mixing woods (edge and main top) could also provide a little style. When I built my office desk I used 8/4 Mahogany with a Walnut edge profile. The body part of the desk were all done in solid walnut.
  • Rachael S Rachael S on Feb 29, 2012
    I am painting the base cabinets white. They come in unfinished oak. I want to stain the top a dark walnut color, (my dining table and some other furniture in my home are this two- toned look as well and I love it!). If I cant find a peice long and deep enough,(I need it to be 24 3/4- 25" deep and 9'. 25" long), what would be a good suggestion of what to do? The cabinets will be 102" wide or 8'6", so they do not take up the whole length of the area. there will be a 2.25" gap on either side, (I will use filler peices to complete the cabinets from wall to wall.). So, I need to either find a peice of stainable wood that is atleast 9'.25", (or 108.25"), and 25" deep or I need other suggestions of how to peice wood together. Thanks all!! :)
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Mar 01, 2012
    Wood can be found in common lengths to 12' or more, getting this as a large slab however is not going to happen unless you pick a up "tree" slab. These can be $$$$ you can also go the "butcher block" route. These are available in standard 25" widths and lengths up to 10 or 12' Most are done in maple but some outfits produce them in oak, walnut cherry etc. Another route would be to hire out a custom top from a local woodworker. Here smaller widths of lumber would be "jointed" and glued together to produce a larger slab type piece. I have done this many times for table tops, counters, desks etc. as you can see from this desk I built ...multiple pieces were joined to produce the wider board.
    comment photo
  • Gabriel D Gabriel D on Mar 03, 2012
    One expertly crafted piece.
  • Gabriel D Gabriel D on Mar 03, 2012
    I have a tree slab in fir that was a client's workbench top that sat on top of some old cabinets and is likely 70 + years in age. Luckily it was never drilled to accomondate a vice or bench grinder and was never fastened down so it has not even one hole in it save some wood mite tunneling which I arrested by satuating the areas affected in varsol. Once dried I then applied a coat of miniwax light stain to bring out the grain and even the appearance of the entir span od wood. Again once dried I applied warm Clapham's beeswax with lavender scent and let it fill in the pores and wood mite tunneling. After a few hours I wiped it down with a cotton flannerl rag and then buffed the entire slab with more cotton flannel rags until It had a soft glow. Again I applied a few coats of wax buffing after each one. I use it as a long coffee table that spans the length of a convention sized sofa. The slab measures just over 7 ' L x 22 1/2 " W x 1 1/2 " thick. I once owned an old antique hutch made in New Brunswick that had a side plank that measured 24 " wide. I imagine that in the early half of the last century, lumber was still being milled in such wide measurements.
  • Rachael S Rachael S on Mar 03, 2012
    Thanks all for your advice. I really appreciate it. I did call Home Depot and they are able to special order a piece of red oak plywood for me. They can get it in 3/4" thick x 4' wide x 10' long. I got it for $100. They are able to cut it for me as well, (since I only need it be 25" x 109"), which is a big help. I will post pics when I finish the project. :)
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Mar 03, 2012
    By using plywood your are going to need to do something with the plywood's edge. The easiest would be to use some "iron on" edge banding. This is a thin veneer with a heat sensitive glue pre-applied. the second route is to edge glue a solid strip of thicker wood.
  • Kirk Melissa S Kirk Melissa S on Jul 10, 2012
    Ikea has lower priced butcher block available that my sister used to make an island in her kitchen. It is gorgeous.
  • Debbie McGarrity Debbie McGarrity on Aug 14, 2015
    Ikea as above have the thinnest block wood counter top I would apply right around the whole set of cabinets top sides and bottom if ossibke for a framed finish with or this out decorative legs it has been done with the likening kallax or expedit check ikea hackers