Wood Countertop Failure -- DIY top hope?

raymondtwpAugust 9, 2011

I tried to make my own wood island countertop recently. Lets just say it didn't go well.

During some (post-failure) online research I came across a do it yourself wood countertop option where the boards are already glued up and prepped for just the finishing process. Company name is "Craft Art."

I wouldn't mind outsourcing the actual gluing of the boards to someone more qualified than I am.

I looked into doing an Ikea top instead but as a wanna-be wood worker, I just couldn't bear the construction style or lack thereof and finger jointing.

Any of you wood workers/craftsmen/craftswomen out there - have you used this product? What do you think? If you haven't used it, how does it look as an option for someone who wants to really have a hand in making my own countertop?

Links to my research:

The look I'm going for - Craft Art Do It Yourself option?

Comparing ikea and Craft Art DIY

Thanks in advance for any advise you have.


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Why not find a local cabinet shop or even a hobbiest with the necessary tools?

Jointer, planer, and table saw with a LOT of clamps and cauls.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2011 at 11:52AM
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Don't feel too bad; making butcherblock counters from scratch is surprisingly difficult without a lot of specialized equipment.

I haven't used Craft Art products, but I've just perused their website. From what I can tell, their "DIY" countertop products are just like the countertops they target at professionals, except that they rout an edge profile, wipe on a coat of "tung oil" (in quotations because it's very unlikely to actually be tung oil, and charge a premium for having done so. Routing edges is very easy, assuming you have a router. The "base coat" of finish they apply is likely to be damaged during shipping, installation and/or sanding, and is only a base coat anyhow. So, I'm skeptical that the extras included in the DIY line are worthwhile. I'd ignore the DIY-targeted marketing and compare the prices of their countertop blanks to those of other good-quality makers. John Boos, perhaps.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2011 at 12:20PM
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I have bought three blank butcherblocks from these people, and I can vouch for them as very accommodating and capable.
Remember that the freight on these things is pretty significant as they are extremely heavy, so buy as close to home as possible.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hardwood Lumber Co.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2011 at 5:05PM
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Jon, you wrote a number of incorrect things. I'm not sure if I'm writing to correct you or defend myself, because I own a Craft Art DIY top and love it.

1. Craft Art sells to homeowners mainly. I bought my DIY top because my neighbor had a Craft Art finished top and I just couldn't afford it. They do sell to the trade, but when I bought my top and talked with them, they told me it's not a big part of their business at all.

2. My top had 3 coats of tung oil. I looked at their site and they do have a DIY line they sell to woodworkers and that has 1 coat of tung oil. But their homeowner DIY has way more.

3. The tung oil is Waterlox Tung Oil. It's listed on their site and is indeed tung oil. I also bought some of it when I got my DIY top and it was in a Waterlox Tung Oil can. You were wrong.

4. Tung oil penetrates into the wood and doesn't reside exclusively on the surface, and mine sure didn't get scratched off or whatever you said. Maybe you were thinking about polyurethane, since that sits only on the surface and doesn't penetrate? And if you saw their packaging, you'd change your point about damage during shipping. It was basically delivered in a crate.

5. I did look at Boos. It was WAY more expensive.

I hope I am not sounding mean, because that's not my intention. I just want to stand up for my decision and also I really liked and appreciated the help from the people at Craft Art.

Here is a link that might be useful: Craft Art DIY Store

    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 8:03AM
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Tung oil finishes as defined by the Wiki:

Tung oil or China wood oil is a drying oil obtained by pressing the seed from the nut of the tung tree (Vernicia fordii). As a drying oil, tung oil hardens (dries) upon exposure to air. The resulting coating is transparent plastic-like and is exploited in most of its applications, which include wood finishing and the composition of oil paints and printing inks. Related drying oils include linseed, safflower, poppy, and soybean.[2] The oil and its use are believed to have originated in ancient China, and appear in the writings of Confucius from about 400 B.C. Raw Tung oil tends to dry with a fine wrinkled finish, the US name for this is Gas Checking, this property is used to make Crystal finishes. To stop this, the oil is heated to gas proof it and most oils used for coating, are gas proofed. This property was used to make wrinkle finishes, usually by adding excess cobalt drier.

The name is often used by paint and varnish as a generic name for any wood finishing product that contains the real tung oil and/or provides a finish that resembles that obtained with it.

Pure tung oil is a terrible long term finish. Modified tung oil finishes---like Waterlox---are much better.

Waterlox is good stuff, but there are many finishes for many different applications.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 10:17AM
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Waterlox is a varnish, and a good one. It is not tung oil, it is varnish. Varnish is made by heating oil(s) with resin(s). Waterlox happens to use tung oil as its oil and phenolic as its major resin. It is similar to baking a loaf of bread, once it is baked, it is no longer its components, but takes characteristics of its components. When was the last time you saw a loaf of bread labeled "flour," and goes on to describe a unique blend of flour, yeast, water, and fine oils? That's what the finish manufacturers are trying to do. You have to look long and hard at Waterlox's label and web site, but you will find the following paragraph that I've quoted here (emphasis mine):

By definition, a varnish, with a few exceptions, contains resins as essential constituents. Further, varnishes
dry by the evaporation of its volatile constituents, by the oxidation or chemical reaction of other constituents
or partly by both. We view our Waterlox Original Tung oil finishes as �phenolic modified Tung oil-based
varnishes�. By design, our original formulas are low solids solutions (high solvent percentages), engineered
to offer the most desirable combination of wood penetration and protective film build. The solids portion of
our finishes is made up of 85% Tung oil and 15% resin, rosin and driers. While many make untrue product
claims, Waterlox has never made any claims that we manufacture anything but a varnish. Our varnish is
however a truly unique blend of Tung oil and resin that showcases the natural beauty of wood, providing
lasting, durable protection.

Here is a link that might be useful: mythbusting oil finishes

    Bookmark   August 12, 2011 at 11:53AM
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DiaGina, as has already been noted by others, Waterlox is not tung oil, no matter how Craft Art labels it. Also, your assertion that their Homeowner DIY counters have "way more" than one coat of finish directly contradicts what Craft Art says on their website.

Their packaging may be good, though, and they very well may be more affordable than Boos.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2011 at 2:34PM
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Just realized that I linked to the same page that you linked to. What I read there is: "We will finish your wood countertop with an eased edge and a base coat of tung oil. Upon receipt, you will sand, stain (if desired) and re-apply tung oil or a mineral oil/beeswax finish (sold separately). Save LOTS of money doing it yourself!" Are you seeing something else?

    Bookmark   August 12, 2011 at 2:44PM
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raymond, where do you live. i make custom doors and gluing up a top is not that big of a deal. and running through a wide belt sander and shaping the edge etc.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2011 at 5:28PM
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