I agonized for days over what kind (water or oil-based) and color of finish to use on the wormy chestnut countertops. I made a lot of samples with extra wood.
Remember I wanted light white marble countertops to begin with but going with wood, I knew would have to compromise on the color.
I tried a variety of different oil-based and water-based stains in medium and dark tones. I also tried a whitewash, upper right, and although I liked it, a lot, it looked too 1991 and "beachy" for me.
I really wanted that old store well-worn counter look so I decided to go with a medium tone walnut rubbing stain.
Let me add here that I was not terribly concerned about having a food-safe surface. I never, ever put food on the counters...I just never have. I use a big marble board for that and have wooden cutting boards for shopping veggies/fruits, and since this counter will be where the sink sits, I was more concerned about durability. I also had no desire for an oiled finish. I wanted to preserve this rare wood and once you oil, you can't get it out, so that was never an option. If I decide to take this out and make a table out of it later, I can.
First, though, I prepared the wood for staining by using the hand planer then the electric planer in a couple spots to get everything perfectly smooth and even.
I sanded starting with the electric sander using 60 grit sandpaper, then changed to a sanding block and moved up to 100, 150 then 220. I used a small piece of 2 x 4 to wrap the paper around so the surface was hard and easy to maneuver. I always sand in the same direction as the grain of the wood.
I filled any holes that went all the way through with walnut-colored wood putty because I wanted to retain the dark color around the old nail holes that are so much a part of the character. Let me add that I only used wood filler in some of the old nail holes and not in any of the joints as we worked really hard making sure all the joints fit perfectly. I do not ever recommend using wood filler to disguise poorly fitting joints as it will crack and will make a wood project look bad.
Then I started with the first coat of stain. This rubbing stain dries quickly, so you have to work fast in order not to get streaks.
The first coat came out really well, and not too dark.
However, water-based products will really raise the grain of the wood so after it dried, I hand sanded again and put the next coat on.
But, the second coat had some streaks in it so I let it dry for about an hour (should have waited longer) then started to sand it back off. I just about cried at this point, but I left it alone for a couple more hours.
I then came back and sanded with 60 grit, 100, 150 and 220 all over again. I, of course, wiped away the sanding dust with a damp cloth.
Then, I brushed on Rustoleum Ultimate Wood Stain in American Walnut. This gave me exactly what I wanted--the old country store counter.
After that dried an hour or so, I sanded lightly again then applied the first coat of polyurethane with a brush. I chose this for durability and chose the satin finish because I didn't want it too shiny. It will be shinier than I want anyway. I LOVE this particular poly. It goes on really smoothly, and after four coats, there is not a bubble anywhere.
I sanded lightly only after the first and second coat.
I just had to bring it in the house for a peek:-) It's hard to see with the halogen lighting, but it is the perfect color to tie in the dark trim from the old house and the grey lower cabinets.
Hopefully, the sink will be here tomorrow and we can cut the hole, then maybe get it in this week. We have several musical projects going this week also, so I'm not sure how much we will get done.
The sink saga continues as the company I bought the damaged one from has been very slow communicating with me about a return. They ended up trying to send me the right one and told me to keep the old one, but I don't want either one as the quality is just not what I thought it would be, and I haven't heard from them since Wednesday. So I could have three kitchen sinks. Yay. Craigslist here I come.
You can see Part IV and links to the other steps in this process starting HERE.
I'll be joining: