Craft Room Project: Counters

I am a solid, walking ball of pain today. Every muscle in my body is screaming at me to to just sit down and not move, something that isn’t going to happen any time soon.

I never imagined that staining countertops would be such a harsh activity on my body, but apparently rubbing stain in, wiping it off, then sanding between coats of poly on 6 different surfaces is a lot of work. And I’m feeling every tiny twitch right now.

But, I have stained countertops.

I’m not in love with them, because they came out a little darker, streakier and spottier than I had expected after my test run. They still look pretty good, just not quite as nice as I’d hoped. I’m going to live with them and just say they have a slightly “rustic” look because my alternative is to sand them down and start over. I don’t dislike them enough to make that worth it, so I’m keeping what I have.

That said, my table top came out amazing and so did the two non-butcher block surfaces I stained. When it is all in place and functioning it is still going to look nice. It has taken 5 coats of poly, so far, to get these where they are. Fingers crossed #5 is the magic number and I’m actually done.

The goal is to try and get them anchored in place today. I’m now officially in a time crunch to get this done. I have a little over a week before we have our visitors here. I know the whole thing isn’t getting done by then, so I have a plan to get to a stable stopping point for now.

    1. Get the counters done and in.
    2. Get the stairs trimmed out and ready for carpet.
    3. Get the floor in this room done.
    4. Reframe out the doorway to the basement and take off the temporary door.

If I can get all those things done, then we can FINALLY move the cat boxes back down to their little room and out of the room that will become MCG’s when she gets here in the fall. I want her to be able to see that space when she is here in a week as a decent, clean space instead of the mess it currently is.

This is all assuming no more major bad days, but this list should be doable. It does mean I’m working my tail off until then, because I don’t even have that full time to work. I have several things I still need to do to get prepped for the visit and that is going to knock off at least a couple of days.

I’d love for the carpet to be able to go in before they get here, but I doubt that is going to happen. There will still be a lot of work left to actually finish this room, but it gets me to a good pause point that still looks mostly finished.

Oh, did you see the doors? They went up perfectly! I’m over the moon happy that I switched to the hidden hinges as it allowed me to make micro adjustments to get them all lined up the way they needed to be. The entire space is starting to look amazing!

I might be scarce here for bit so I can focus on this, but I’m sure I’ll try and poke my head out every once in a while.

Craft Room Project: Putting In Shelves

Yesterday felt kind of like I was taking a break. In part because the day before with the cabinet install, I’d about done myself in and I was dragging hard core yesterday. I didn’t have the energy for much, so I focused on getting some residual painting done.

I also did my final stain test. Since I’d had to cut a section off one of the counters, I had the perfect opportunity to get a true test and I took advantage of it. I did the full stain and poly process to see how it would turn out and I have a winner and a final stain color.

Final Stain Test
Final Stain Test

The gray block on the right is what I’m going with, though I might let it sit just a little longer to get it a tad darker. You can see that it is lighter than the floor (bottom of photo), but that is what I wanted. I didn’t want to go as dark as the floor as I felt it would overpower the room. It compliments the floor, but still shows the beauty of the butcher block design. Even though I love this, I’m still nervous. Those counters make up a significant amount of space in the room and it would suck to get them all stained and end up hating it. I’m pretty sure I’ll be okay. I’m just having a harder time visualizing this in the space than usual. I’m not quite ready to work on the counters yet, but getting this done and set made me feel so much better now that I have a definite plan for them.

Today I finally started to get the shelves installed in their units.

Starting to Install Shelves
Starting to Install Shelves

As usual, it seems like I made the job harder for myself than it should have been, so this felt extremely tedious. I made several mistakes along the way. Some were easier to fix than others, but all are fixable. I got the first two units completed when I ran out of screws. I used the very last screw, the exact number I needed, on that second shelf. I guess the Universe was telling me it was time to quit for the day.

I have two more that I need to finish up tomorrow. Since I’ve been doing the needed filling and caulking as I go, I won’t have much to do to finish other than clean up those filled spaces and do a little sanding. After that, those base cabinets are done except the two that still need doors.

It doesn’t really feel like I got much done the last couple of days, but there is only so much this poor old body of mine is willing to do without a much bigger break than I’ve been giving it.

Craft Room Project: The Pain of Stain

I’ve lost count of the number of test samples I’ve done of various different processes, formulas and layers using combos of 5 different stain colors trying to get the stain color I want for my counters. This is just a portion of the ones I’ve done so far trying to get a color that works with the sample block of my flooring in the lower left of the photo.

And I’ve decided I’m going in the wrong direction. All of these are too dark and allow too much of the yellow tones in the wood to come through and I just don’t like any of them.

So I have now added 2 different stain colors and have started the whole process over again.

Wood stain is really kind of horrible. First, you don’t have these nice swatches spread out in rainbow fashion for you to choose from like you do with paint. With wood stain, that is almost an impossible thing to do because different types of wood take stain differently. Even the same type of wood can present a wide range of colors using the same stain because wood isn’t uniform and stain soaks in, showing the various shades and lines of the grain, instead of just sitting on top like paint.

The other really obnoxious part about stain? Or one of them anyway. Manufacturers only provide the smaller containers of stain in the most basic, common colors. The slightly different or less common colors only come in the larger cans, which aren’t cheap at all, so buying a bunch to run tests to get the right color can end up costing a decent chunk of change and leave you with a bunch of stain you will never end up using making it not only expensive, but wasteful as well.

That doesn’t even go into all the other pieces to the puzzle, like how the color will change when you add your top coat or varnish to the mix or how obnoxious clean up is depending on the type of stain. Oh, and the smell. Holy hell, the smell!! I’ve already made my vent fan installation well worth the expense just because of the stain alone.

So, as much as I really wanted to get started on the paint-and-wait dance with my cabinets, I’m still messing with stain today. The good news is, my first test of my new colors seems to look like it is going in the direction I want it to, much better than all the other colors I’ve messed with so far combined. Fingers and toes crossed that it dries as nicely as it went on and that my sealant doesn’t change up the color too much.