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Beautiful Solid Wood Counter Tops

One of Louis’ speciality woodworking skills is in the making of solid wood counter tops. So, of course, we have to include this in our container home. It makes an interesting, warmer alternative to granite tops, and is especially of interest if you find stone too cold. It takes quite some time to turn rough planks into a finished product, but is well worth the effort.

How it All Begins

When you look at the raw planks before they are turned into any kind of furniture, it’s difficult to imagine the end product. Louis decided to make their coffee station solid wood counter tops out of poplar, so bought a few rough planks. This wood is not as expensive as some other solid woods, here in South Africa, but hardier than pine, which made it a good choice. (Here are some poplar woodworking tips).

We also have a few planks of reclaimed floor in Rhodesian Teak (Amazing! Beautiful! And so very heavy. This was a brilliant find). We’ll be using the teak for a few solid wood counter tops too, but the majority of this article focuses on the poplar. We’ll also give you an idea of what’s involved in making a solid wood counter top, should you ever wish to embark upon such a project yourself.

rough poplar planks
The rough poplar planks

After putting it through the thickness planer machine a few times, in order to get them all to a uniform thickness, it was time to glue them together.

using pipe clamps to glue poplar planks together
Preparing the poplar planks for the counter top

Louis and Kevin used pipe clamps to make sure that the glue set with the planks not only tightly together, but also one hundred percent straight.

Finishing the Solid Wood Counter Tops

The next thing to do is the sanding. Lots of sanding of various types with various grits of sandpaper.

hand sanding and belt sanding machine on wood
Sanding, sanding, sanding

The sanding contributes greatly to the end product, so its worth spending the time here.

Finally, it’s time for varnish/sealant. This will protect the wood from water, sunlight, cooking spills and general life.

This piece is the Rhodesian teak

Of course, between all the layers of varnish, there’s (you guessed it!) more sanding to be done.

The End Result

It’s hard to believe that these are the same pieces of wood!

poplar wood grain close up of solid wood counter top
Poplar out in the sun just after sealing. Don’t you just love the honey stripes?

Depending on your application, you can also leave imperfections in the planks which really add to the character. Have a look at this beautiful knot in the Rhodiesian teak.

knot in rhodesian teak wood
Beautiful knot in Rhodesian teak

We couldn’t wait to see these amazing pieces of wood installed in the coffee station.

installed poplar solid wood counter top
Installed and ready to enjoy!

Watch out for our big South Container reveal for more photos of the solid wood counter tops.

PS: If you’re interested in a solid wood counter top for your own home, and don’t wish to do all the work yourself, feel free to contact Small Scale Engineering to discuss your requirements.

7 thoughts on “Beautiful Solid Wood Counter Tops

  1. Beautiful. Wood is such a nice material to work with.
    Great great work guys!

    1. Thank you Laurence!

  2. Between all the coats of varnish is…….wood. As for me and my woodworking skills, there’s nothing like waking up to the smell of freshly cut Melamine…… I didn’t know that poplar was used as a hardwood these days. Rhodesian teak, yes, indeed, marvelous stuff. Really expensive and to think that millions of those teak trees were felled to make railway sleepers!

    1. I agree that it would be a better idea to use a harder wood than poplar for kitchen, but it’s good enough for a coffee station, or for a TV cabinet or a myriad of other places. I also agree that melamine is a lot easier to work with! 😀

  3. Ek love julle vordering en die hout is pragtig. Vir my wat uit die Knysna woud uitkom is hout natuurlik vir my n pragtige iets om te bewonder vernaam as die strepe en kleur en patrone so uitstaan na olie of vernis.
    Gwen het vir my fotos gestuur van julle vordering en ek kan nie wag om als deur te gaan nie. Hou so vol met jul projek.
    sereza O’Neill

  4. Wow, what a transformation! It looks absolutely stunning! (And I like your walls too)

    1. I think it’s pretty amazing transformation too – rough planks to beautiful honey coloured wood! Thanks for your comment.

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