Condo Living Room Home Improvement

DIY Built-In Bookcases, Part 2 (Making The Wood Countertop)

Last Updated on December 24, 2015 by Kristi Linauer

I decided to make the wood countertop for my built-in bookcase wall before doing any of the painting because I just knew that I’d end up scratching the paint if I did that first. Plus, I think I’ll just wait until the upper bookshelves are finished, and then paint the whole thing at the same time. With all of the building, tool usage, and ladder usage to come, the paint would undoubtedly get scratched up if I go ahead and paint the lower cabinets now.

I had several cedar 2 by 4’s left over from my elevated garden bed project last summer. Those are what I used for the simple shelves in my bathroom makeover, and I loved how those turned out, so I decided to use them for the bookcase countertop as well.

The dilemma? How in the world do I build a 12-foot solid wood countertop and then move it into place all by myself?

The answer? Build it in place! So that’s what I did!

I started with three pieces of cedar 2″ x 4″ lumber, cut to 48 inches long. Using my Kreg Jig and wood glue, I attached them end-to-end to create the first (back) row of wood for the countertop. Then continuing on using the Kreg Jig and wood glue, I added the subsequent rows by attaching the wood to the previous row.

DIY Wood Countertop Made From Cedar 2" x 4" lumber

Keep in mind, I was working on the underside of the countertop. None of these pocket holes will be seen from the top.

Here’s a view from a bit further away. You can see that I was working on the second row here, and still had a couple of pieces (one on each end) to go.  You can also see all of the pocket holes circled in orange.

DIY Wood Countertop Made From Cedar 2" x 4" lumber

I continued to build, adding more rows, and securing the wood to the previous row using the Kreg Jig and wood glue. I eventually had to stop and remove the bottom shelves on the wall, because I needed more room to build the countertop. 🙂  Here’s the whole thing put together.

DIY Wood Countertop Made From Cedar 2" x 4" lumber

DIY Wood Countertop Made From Cedar 2" x 4" lumber

I then carefully lowered the countertop onto the cabinets, and went to town filling all of the cracks with wood filler.

DIY Wood Countertop Made From Cedar 2" x 4" lumber

So that’s where the countertop project stands right now.  It’s far from finished, and I’m still wondering if I can pull this off.  The countertop overhangs the side bookcases by about three or four inches.  Obviously that’s way too much, so I need to cut some off.  Don’t even ask me how I’m going to manage that!  How am I going to cut it right up to the wall?  No saw that I have will do that.  So I have no idea.

Once I get that not-so-small issue figured out, I think I’m going to trim out the front edge with cedar 1″ x 2″ wood so that the seams where the 2 by 4’s are joined together won’t be visible on the front edge.

Then I have to sand the whole thing.  That’ll probably take a couple of hours using 80-grit sandpaper because right now, that thing is super rough and very uneven.  Sure wish I had a planer!!

I’ll be back tomorrow to show you if I pulled it off or not.  I feel certain that I can.  I just have absolutely no idea how at this point.   In case you haven’t noticed by now, I kind of make these things up as I go along.  😀  That part of my personality absolutely drives Matt crazy, but I generally make it work in the end, so he’s learned to hold his tongue (for the most part).  Ha!

You Might Also Like...


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 29, 2013 at 9:33 am

    you might try using a old fashioned saw. Make 2 cuts and create a space to the depth you need, then using the hand saw taking your time cut to the wall. Less likely that you’ll cut the wall that way. though if the counter top was less thick I would suggest using a router.
    Alternatively, I would suggest marking the area to be cut, taking the counter top off and using a Jig Saw (after you had put counter top on some saw horses). But don’t sand until you have made the cuts, cause you would have to sand it again.
    Using a circular sander would be the next best thing to using a planer.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Sandy Louden
      April 30, 2013 at 8:38 am

      I agree…this would be easiest….and would give you a work area not attached to the wall…because you could sit the saw horses at an angle and give yourself working area at the end of them….you are amazing by the way….when I was young I could have done this kind of thing as I was always a work horse around my house….I so am enjoying your site and watching you….oh for the young days again…thanks for your postings…I am really enjoying them…

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 29, 2013 at 9:36 am

    You can always Router the edges!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 29, 2013 at 10:06 am

    I hate to be a downer, because I think you are awesome – but won’t cedar begin to bow or warp? (Tell me to shut up now 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 29, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    I’ve seen Japanese hand saws for fine cutting in tight places. Would that work for this? I do realize just how heavy that counter top is (we burn wood). Would it be too heavy for you to turn over and cut the extra off the back so that the board widths will be consistent except for the narrow piece which will be at the back? You would still have to notch to cut but it might make the cutting less onerous in the long run. Just a thought.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 29, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    You are amazing and fearless to try anything. You go girl!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 29, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    Great job Kristi, It will be fabulous when your done, I am certain you will work it out! Girls like us know , where there is a will… there is a way!!!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Rose Franco
      April 30, 2013 at 10:11 am

      True…..never tell me I CAN’T Do IT because I will prove you wrong every time even if I lose fingers and toes trying! LOL
      Kristi… can do it!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 29, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    Instead of cutting off the countertop edges, couldn’t you add filler strips to the bottom cabinets, so the whole thing looks wall-to-wall built-in? Seems easier and would feel more custom. Unless I’m misunderstanding your project. (Also – your woodworking skills are impressing the hell outta me!)

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Ashley Sparks
    April 29, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    You are truly an inspiration to me. I do the easy parts of projects but have to wait for my husband to work on the big stuff on the weekends. I’m going to try to me more like you!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Ashley Rane Sparks

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 29, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    Great job so far Kristi. I’d also go with the Japanese pull saw idea. They are simply awesome and leave a wonderfully smooth cut. I’m in the UK & use the Shark Corps 10-2440 which is actually 2 saws in one. One side has 17 teeth per inch & the other 9tpi. It’s currently on US Amazon for $22 delivered which is far less than the UK price.
    You’re work is awesome Kristi & I look forward to seeing the finished article & also what you do to you’re dream home when you move 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Heidi Fawn
    April 30, 2013 at 2:26 am

    I think I would take a row of boards off and rip them to achieve the desired over hang and then reattach them. I’m interested to see what you come up with…

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Angela Herrington
    April 30, 2013 at 6:28 am

    I love that many of your projects tie each room together, but you have enough variety that they are not overly “matchy.” It’s much more visually interesting than it would be if every room was a cookie cutter of the next. I can’t wait to see how this pulls together. You are doing so many awesome things in such a small space. Keep it up! 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Gilmer Gal
    April 30, 2013 at 9:32 am

    If possible, make your cut from the back long side. It would be easier making one long cut than trying to cut each area. How to move it? Hmmm, do you have a brother? Maybe you could flip the top over and work from the back. The long side could hang over a bit so you could cut it, then you could flip it back over to fit against the wall. Or maybe not, I don’t know. All I know is that you will find a solution and it will look fabulous!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 30, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    Kristi, I am selfishly very glad you did this because I put cabinets along the back wall of my dining room and need a counter top. Mine is only about 9 feet long and I did not want to pay a lot for a countertop. So to clarify it is 2 inches thick correct? Now I need to get the jig! Thanks

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Kristi Linauer
      April 30, 2013 at 2:14 pm

      Hi Carla~
      Yes, I used cedar 2″ x 4″ lumber. I think they were 8-feet long, so if you go this direction, you’ll need to piece them together to get your 9-foot long countertop.

      BUT, before you go to the trouble, you might want to check IKEA’s butcherblock countertops and see if that would work for you. If I remember correctly, the one I got was 9 feet long, and cost $139 or so. You’d end up spending at least that much by the time you purchase the Kreg Jig and the lumber to make this countertop.

      This one was more economical for me simply because I already had the wood and the Kreg Jig. 🙂

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        November 13, 2014 at 8:17 pm

        Kristi can I ask what you used for stain and sealer? I am creating book end built in’s now and will be cutting cedar this weekend. I would like to finish countertop too before I begin bookcase…

        • Reply To This Comment ↓
          Kristi Linauer
          November 14, 2014 at 9:13 am

          I used Rust-Oleum wood stain in a walnut finish, and then used Rust-Oleum polyurethane in a satin finish to seal it.

          • Reply To This Comment ↓
            November 17, 2014 at 10:51 pm

            Thanks for reply Kristi… I know how fast time flies… I went with an espresso poly shade and probably will sand and stain the counter sometime this week….

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 30, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    This Kristi, is simply AMAZING!!! What a great idea! I’ve been disappointed in IKEA’s discontinuing their LAGAN countertop b/c we wanted to use it in a half kitchen revamp this summer and have been looking for alternatives on making a wood countertop vs shelling out for the NUMERAR. Now if I can only convince my husband. That’s where the NUMERAR is winning. Maybe I should just hire you? 😉

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 1, 2013 at 6:57 am

    It looks great, so far. Why not leave the overhang, as it is? It’ll be a bit more room for ‘pretties’. Just my thought…

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    My DIY Wood Countertop Is Finished! (well…almost)
    May 1, 2013 at 9:25 am

    […] you missed the other posts on how I built this solid cedar countertop, you can see the actual building process here, followed by the sanding and cutting to size […]

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Progress on the Second Bedroom – Soon to be Workroom | Cathy Graham
    August 27, 2013 at 11:40 am

    […] clean and durable) or a wood top that I can make myself.  Kristi at has a great tutorial on how to make your own wood […]

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Beverly Hayes
    January 28, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    Hi Kristi, In the end, how did you solve your issues with the countertop? I did not see pictures of the countertop sanded down and the staining process. How did you take care of the overhang? Does the wood filler show through the stain? What kind of polyurethane did you use? Thanks so much!