advice please

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Blog entry by LucyCleopatra posted 02-19-2010 09:09 AM 860 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Remodeling a house and want an island that will function as both a kitchen island and big kitchen table. Would love to know how I could make a really incredible wood counter/table top for it that either is or looks like walnut or zebra wood. I want it to look beautiful and dark but also have some varigation in color and look rustic.

I know very little about wood or woodworking and seem to be getting lame advice from the likes of home depot staff, etc.

I would appreciate any information and advice. I am in salt lake city and on a budget. Any thoughts, pictures, recommendations appreciated.

Also could use some objective advice on flooring and other wood elements I want in my home.


9 comments so far

View Waldschrat's profile


505 posts in 2857 days

#1 posted 02-19-2010 11:05 AM

Well, you could go with European walnut… I am assuming that if you want real wood and considering walnut or zebra wood, price is not a big factor, and should not be considering or compairing the cost to the hourly rate of a cabinet maker, the wood is only a small part of the price. Even though you said you were on a budget.

I personally stay away from woods like Zebrawood so I am partail to the idea of using walnut. Tropical woods are not good to use… in my opinion, its like ivory or something… yeah sure, one can procure ivory, and it will not make elephants extinct, if one only uses it once, but if everyone “only” uses it once, what then? just my personal take. So I try to avoid tropical not local grown woods when I can… besides there are literally hundreds of beautiful wood species, that most are not even aware of.

For kitchen counter top if its not a printed laminate, solid wood is definetly the proper choice. You want a more rustic look and a more variation in color, so American walnut although cheaper, is probably to homogenous. The Euro Walnut is much more lively and striped with differnt bands of color and varies from region to region depending on where it grows.

My second thought about Walnut agains Zebera wood is this: With walnut (either American or Euro) you can pull off a very elegant-rustical look, Zebra wood is not a wood I would consider rustical… although it is beautiful, its generally used more in very modern.

As I mentioned, I see you are on a budget, but I can be that Zebra wood might get pricy, if you still decide to use it, Euro. Walnut is also not cheap. American Walnut should be affordable, but also not cheap.

Are these the only woods in consideration? If not, a fumed Oak, which is treated so that a deep rich brown color goes all the way through the wood, can be produced and this is something that the cabinetmaker (a quality one anyway) should be able to produce for a good price. It may be cheaper than Walnut, but I am afraid it may not have enough character that you are looking for. I just thought it might be an option to look into.

Same thing with flooring… there are some really hight quality real wood laminates available… I would start looking there, it might be economical than solid flooring. Something to look into.

-- Nicholas, Cabinet/Furniture Maker, Blue Hill, Maine

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 3521 days

#2 posted 02-19-2010 05:18 PM

From your questions, it sounds as though you are remodeling (as you stated) but you are a bit lost with the overall design.

For us to help you, you need to give us more information. You are really looking for help with design issues to a large degree and to pull it together visually, we will need more information.

Layout, colors you like or would like to see. What you had in mind for furniture.

The questions you ask will prompt responses that are basically out of context.

I say these things as a remodeling contractor.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View rtb's profile


1101 posts in 3135 days

#3 posted 02-19-2010 06:01 PM

Todd hit on the head, and Nicolas is correct in what he said but is really nice-to-know stuff and is, as noted, premature.

-- RTB. stray animals are just looking for love

View rtb's profile


1101 posts in 3135 days

#4 posted 02-19-2010 06:04 PM

Also, where, state or part of the country as wood prices may vary. This also will not be important until we know more, as Todd has stated.

-- RTB. stray animals are just looking for love

View LucyCleopatra's profile


3 posts in 2441 days

#5 posted 02-19-2010 08:26 PM

I will try to post some pictures of what I am going for, but basically it’s kind of a fifties and sixties modern design and I would like the kitchen to mostly be simple and white with wood accents. I want the focal point of the kitchen to be this really beautiful island/table top. I have seen stuff I like in design mags and books on mid-century modern but I can’t find it in the ready made off the shelf stuff. I want a fusion of really clean and simple modern look with a few really organic wood elements. We had a bigger budget at the beginning but everything is getting bigger in scope (a pool that we thought would cost 4k to fix maybe 20k etc) so I have to come up with some more budget-friendly solutions to execute inside.

Is it possible to build a gorgeous counter top with mutiple pieces of wood and just set and secure onto a ready made island base?

Does anyone know anybody good in the Salt Lake City area?


View LucyCleopatra's profile


3 posts in 2441 days

#6 posted 02-19-2010 10:10 PM

Of course I would love to have a solid piece but could you do something with flooring? I’ve seen it as a back splash. I like the look of the handscraped golden teak I’ve seen in flooring but can’t seem to find a place to get this as a counter top…even if it is in planks. ideas?

View JohninSD's profile


33 posts in 2583 days

#7 posted 02-20-2010 04:49 PM

You might find something suitable as a ready made workbench top – Grizzly has some laminated maple tops in their catalog for instance. Try googling “laminated benchtop” or similar and see what pops up.

-- John

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 2496 days

#8 posted 02-20-2010 05:10 PM

I don’t like being the negative one, but I will make a couple of points that I think you should consider.

In one of our homes we had a wooden (maple) countertop. For us it was a very high maintenance item. I probably sanded it down and refinished it at least once a year. One of our sons set a hot sauce pan on the countertop and then I had a burn mark to deal with. Also, you really want to avoid letting any food make contact with the counter top. Bacteria grows on wooden countertops.

I was transfered many times during my career and my wife and I have owned 12 different houses. We have had virtually every countertop material made from formica to tile to wood to granite. Granite is, by far, our favorite.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View trimmer's profile


90 posts in 2863 days

#9 posted 02-20-2010 05:31 PM

If it was me i would look into the formica samples. Put a wood edge on with a profile to match your dacor, and stain edge to match your formica sellection. The key is the wooden edge.

My 2 cents

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