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DIY Herringbone-Pattern Countertop

By Picardy Project on May 23, 2012

Since figuring out the wood we wanted to use for the hutch countertop we've been working on building the actual hutch. And now that the carcass is built, face frames installed, doors and drawers installed and the side shelves are installed, we've finally come down to the homestretch of assembly. That doesn't mean it'll go really fast, it just means the to do list is shorter.

We bought the countertop wood about a month ago and set up a jig and I cut everything down


As I was cutting all the pieces down I tossed them into buckets to keep the two species of wood separate and organized

And then they sat there for several weeks until we finally caught up and got to working on the counter this past weekend.

First up, Chris made a template

Then he cut down a piece of plywood that fit the space exactly (that took a while) that the herringbone will be attached to

Then we had to figure out which way we were going to alternate the two species of the wood for the herringbone pattern

Option 1

or Option 2

Chris preferred Option 1, but I liked Option 2 better. He didn't really care too much either way, so he let me pick. Option 2 it is!

Then we had to figure out how the hell we were going to attach it all to the plywood. This sounds like a simple decision, but we wanted to make sure things were level, even, strong and simple. After much deliberation we decided we would build V's in each species of wood, then attach those V's piece by piece to the plywood - gluing them down, then nailing them to the plywood from the bottom.

To build the V's we went through all the wood to make sure we had square cuts. We had a few that were rejects

Then I went through the wood and picked the "bad" side (maybe grain that wasn't as attractive or there were markings on the wood) placed those face up to indicate that would be the bottom side where we would drill the pocket screw...

Then Chris pre-drilled for the pocket screw

Next, I put some wood glue on the end (avoiding the part close to what would be the eventual top of the counter top) and then screwed them together

Our assembly line worked really well, but when we got to the Chechen, things didn't go as well. Chechen is SUPER dense and so pre-drilling and then drilling for the pocket screw was really difficult and didn't look very good because things got a little wonky. So we scraped the pocket screw plan for the Chechen

We had all the Sapele done

So we figured having 1/2 the wood in V's would make it go fast enough, then we would just place the Chechen in one by one.

The next step was laying out the pattern. Like we did with the fireplace, we placed the point at the very front so we knew the pattern was in a straight line and even

We made sure to line up the first point with the center of the counter so that the over hang was even on each side and then Chris started assembling.

First, he slathered on wood glue

Then he put the wood in place and sometimes had to shimmy things around to make sure it all lined up even

Then he clamped it down and nailed it in place

And he just kept repeating the process

In hindsight we shouldn't have built the V's because it actually made things more difficult. If they weren't 100% perfect they threw off the pattern by hairlines of an inch. That sounds like we're being crazy, but with a pattern like this every
slight imperfection adds up to bigger gaps


When we sand it all down, we'll put in some wood glue in the bigger gaps and try to fill it with the sanding dust to conceal the gaps as best we can.

Chris worked on it for several hours on Sunday and made some great progress

But the tiny gaps started adding up, and all of our "perfect" 2" x 8" pieces weren't going to do the trick to fill them, so we need to purchase more of the wood so we can cut it down to a slightly larger size to make up the difference.

It's looking great though!

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