Hey y’all! You may have seen on our Instagram recently a post about what the heck we did to our dining table. If you haven’t seen it, here’s a hint: it involved drawing all over and drilling holes into a perfectly good West Elm Parsons table (side note, I think we have an older version because ours is longer than what’s online).
Are we crazy? A little. Justifiably crazy? I think so! Because the end result of everything was this!
But I’ll backtrack a bit and explain how we got here. First off, yes our table was perfectly good. It is SUPER sturdy, has a leaf which made it usable in both our little apartment and our current larger dining room, plus it’s lovely and simple and modern.
BUT we got it secondhand. And the previous owner had abused it with a combination of things-that-were-too-hot and things-that-were-too-wet. So the oak veneer surface was looking pretty rough. I’ve circled some of of the trouble spots below.
The damaged parts have continued to get worse over time, and we knew eventually we would need a new table. Because our issues stemmed from veneer, we reeeeeally had our hearts set on solid wood. But as you know… Solid wood tables cost an arm, a leg, your first born, and your entire collection of Pokemon cards. Specifically I had my eyes on the Blu Dot Branch table that Chris and Julia are rocking. The light wood top and black metals legs had me all googly eyed, but the $1600 (+ shipping + tax) price tag did not. So I put the solid wood dream temporarily out of my mind.
Then one weekend we found ourselves enjoying $2 hot dog and drink combos at IKEA on an un-table-related trip, and we saw that they have a couple solid wood tables at really good prices (in the $380-$450 range). Ring ring, it’s your hopes and dreams of a solid wood table calling back! Here and here are a couple we saw.
But after some measuring and test-sits, we realized that none of them could fit as many people as our current table, which wasn’t going to work for us. We felt kinda bummed until we made our way to the kitchen area and saw Hammarp butcher block in solid beech on clearance ($49 for the 72″ pieces and $69 for the 98″ pieces)!!!!! Wheels started turning. Could we have the solid wood table top we wanted and whatever size our hearts desired?!?!?
Naturally, we bought the entire remaining stock.
Haha, that sounds way crazier than it is. We actually have several projects in mind that could use butcher block (we’ve already used it once for Evan’s desk – we owe you a post on that!) and the “entire remaining stock” was five pieces of the 98″ length. Sorry everyone else in the Houston area. IKEA is fresh out of Hammarp beech.
We actually had friends coming over for dinner that night so we couldn’t construct the new table quite yet. Butcher block needs to be treated before it’s safe from spills and such. We didn’t feel confident in the neatness of ourselves or our friends when spaghetti sauce is involved, so we decided to start the sealing process before the butcher block was attached to anything. We picked up some of those painting pyramids (how have we gone so long without them?!?) and spaced them out the length of the butcher block, then laid the butcher block on top of them.
We did some research and found that there are basically two options when it comes to sealing butcher block: Waterlox or a mineral oil mix. Waterlox is a little more hardcore: if you stain your butcher block you have to use it to make it food safe, and it’s also very waterproof, but it’s harder to apply. Mineral oil is easier and cheaper, but not as immediately waterproof (it takes lots of applications and builds up more of a seal over time). Since our butcher block was for our table, not near a sink or where food would be prepped, we opted for a mineral oil product. Specifically, this one:
It’s called The Natchez Solution Complete Furniture Care. It’s got mineral oil, beeswax (which helps fill any little imperfections in the wood) and lemon oil (which helps bring out the natural luster of the wood). It goes on smoothly and has a consistency like… salad dressing? Haha not as liquidy as water, but thin enough to be spread. And it really does make a HUGE visual difference in the look of the wood! In the photo below you can see the difference between wood that’s been oiled and wood that hasn’t.
The whole process was really painless. Plus the oil smells nice :)
While I worked on treating the wood, Evan got started doing the scary part:
So here was the general plan – instead of buying new legs for our butcher block or removing the legs from our current table and using those, we decided to just put the butcher block directly onto the old table. Almost seemed too easy to work haha. So to do this, we needed to:
- Draw out guidelines on the old table for placement of the butcher block.
- Drill holes through our table (eek!).
- Place butcher block along guidelines, and mark through the holes onto the butcher block.
- Where we marked, add T-nuts into the butcher block.
- Replace butcher block onto table along guides and screw through the holes into the T-nuts.
1. DRAW GUIDELINES
Not gonna lie, drawing all over our table was a little nerve wracking. It was that once-we-do-this-we’re-committed moment.
We drew one line along the center of our table length-wise, and drew two more lines halfway between the center and the edge.
The center mark was where our two butcher blocks would meet. Our table was 96″ x 38″, and each butcher block was 98″ x 25″, so we needed two. I made a couple illustrations below to show what the plan was.
2. DRILL THROUGH TABLE
X marks the spots we drilled in the illustration above. We did have to adjust slightly to avoid hitting some of the leaf hardware, but the adjustments were minor and we still stayed pretty close to the line. This was the scariest part! By the way, our awesome Dewalt 20v drill was Evan’s best friend during this project. We use it FOR SO MANY PROJECTS and it’s a powerhouse. If you’re in the market for a drill, we HIGHLY recommend it.
To keep the drill bit going straight down and not at any funky angles, Evan used this V-drill guide. It’s suuuuper handy. We used it to help us drill all four holes.
3. PLACE AND MARK BUTCHER BLOCK
In this step we used our guidelines to place the butcher block centered on the table. We had about 6 inches of butcher block overhanding each side width-wise, and about 1 inch on each side length-wise.
Evan got under the table and put some white paint from our paint pen (the same one we used to mark up the table) on the end of his drill bit. He poked it through the holes we drilled in the table and onto the butcher block sitting on top of the table.
Hehe. He’s cute :)
4. ADD T-NUTS TO BUTCHER BLOCK
We pulled the butcher block off the table and placed it bottom-side-up on the floor so we could see the paint marks Evan left. Then he measured the depth of our T-nuts and marked that depth on the drill bit so we could drill holes to the perfect depth.
For those who don’t know, these are T-nuts, which are fasteners that have internal threading you can screw into. We could have just screwed into the butcher block directly, but we knew when we move we might have to remove the table top to make it more portable. Unscrewing and re-screwing into the same hole can eventually weaken the grip you have. These metal internal threads won’t deteriorate like screwing directly into wood would.
So to add the T-nut, Evan first created a recessed area for it to snuggly sit so that it was flush with the bottom of the wood. To do this he used a forstner bit that was the same diameter as our T-nut’s diameter. He also drilled a small pilot hole into the center of the recessed area.
Next he used his drill with the marked bit to drill the correct depth for the T-nut. That cylinder in the middle of the T-nut is where the internal thread is, and that goes into the hole we drilled (the teeth grip it in place). You can see in the photo below how he stopped right at the paint mark.
Evan sprayed the T-nut with super glue accelerant (which is amazing by the way… it makes super glue set INSTANTLY) and then applied super glue to the T-nut and pressed it into the hole. The super glue was an optional step to make things even more secure, but you wouldn’t necessarily have to do it.
To get the teeth of the T-nut to dig in, you whack it with a hammer while having way too much fun not being still enough for your wife to take a photo :P
Here’s how it looks when it’s in:
5. ATTACH BUTCHER BLOCK VIA T-NUTS
Almost done guys! The last step was to replace the butcher block on our table, once again aligning with our guidelines and making sure the T-nuts aligned with the holes we drilled in the table earlier. Evan drilled through the holes and into our T-nuts, adding a washer to distribute the force of the screw. He did this through all four holes in the table, so each butcher block was attached at two points.
That’s the last step! Then we stepped back and admired our beautiful solid wood table top.
We weren’t sure initially how we’d feel about size of the table, since it’s significantly wider now than it used to be. But we don’t mind the overhang of the wood and actually REALLY love how much of a statement the extra big table top makes.
We feel like overall it brightens up the space SO much. It was crazy to see our space go from this:
Also we don’t feel like we need a runner anymore. We tried it with the runner but opted to go without it and just place a few simple faux plants (and super cheap planters) from IKEA along the center. The wood is so pretty, it really doesn’t need much on top of it.
After the first few coats of oil soaked in, we had our first dinner on it to make it official!
We are pretty much enamored with our upgraded table. I like to walk by and pet it with hearts in my eyes. It’s true love!
(2) 98″ Hammarp butcher block in beech: $69.99 (x2)
(4) T-nuts: ~$1 (x4)
(1) Forstner bit: $7.89
(1) Natchez Solution: $15.95
(1) set of painting pyramids: $4.97 (optional)
Drill, bits, screws, washers, V-drill guide, super glue + accelerant, and badass skills already owned.
TOTAL = $172.79
Much cheaper than even the IKEA-level wood tables… and insanely affordable compared to any other solid wood table we found, especially considering how large it is. We are super proud of this and couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. Have you guys used butcher blocks in any projects? We have a few extras and we can’t wait to decide how to use them, so we’d love to hear what you’ve done!