This Fall we tackled our first One Room Challenge and boy was it a fun one (p.s. you can see the reveal here). During the whole challenge, we were looking for ways we could stretch ourselves and gain news skills.
When we got to the bar, it was no different. We wanted to try something new–something we had never tried before. After watching countless HGTV stars do it, we decided to tackle the torch method to finish our wood countertop!
Alright, let’s start DIYing!
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- Electric Sander
- Drill (if you’re assembling the countertop)
- Kreg Jig (if you’re assembling the countertop)
What You’ll Need
How to Torch Wood
Step 1: make your countertop
Determine your countertop size. As a general rule, a 1.5″ overhang on each side is normal. We wanted our countertop to be approximately 2″ thick and 27″ deep. A standard countertop is 25″.
Cut your boards down to size and then arrange them based on wood grain. Since torching the wood emphasizes the wood grain, you want to make sure that you like how the pieces flow together. Using the same piece of wood cut into multiple boards can help you create a pattern that flows together.
Use glue and pocket holes to attach your boards together. We put together (3) – 10″ boards to create our countertop.
If you want your countertop to look like a single piece of wood, sand your boards down so that the boards are flush–you shouldn’t even be able to feel where the seam is. Then, grab some of the sawdust from sanding and glue and rub it together to create your own wood putty. Fill the gaps with the glue and sawdust mixture and sand it down until smooth.
If you want a more professional look on your countertop, round the edges using 80-120grit sandpaper. We rounded two edges and then left two edges straight since they would be sitting up against the wall.
Step 2: prep for torching
Sand your entire piece of wood with 220-grit sandpaper so that it is very smooth.
Wipe your wood to remove any sawdust that might be on it.
If possible, position your wood vertically so that you can torch it while keeping the propane in an upright position.
Step 3: start torching
The key to burning wood is to be consistent with your speed, always keep moving, and maintain a consistent distance from the wood. Work in small sections (about 6″) at a time. Run your torch horizontally and then move on to the next “row.” Once you have a section completed from top to bottom, move over and repeat in a new row.
Note: some areas will burn faster than others. Ignore this for now and then you can come back and go back over the spots that have less color. Waiting until the end will make it easier to spot inconsistencies and will be quicker to touch-up. You will likely find that the color is lighter in a line all the way down your wood. So you can simply torch that section all the way down.
If you want to see what fully torched looks like, check out these DIY planters that we finished with this technique as well.
Let your wood cool off while you decide if you want to stain the wood. We liked how much the grain popped that we decided to leave it unstained. If you choose to stain your wood, you can stain as you normally would.
step 4: seal your wood
A common question we get asked if “what is the best sealant for wood burning”? We haven’t tried out every sealant, but we are very happy with the results of our Spar Urethane. You decided on a gloss finish so that the countertop would shine and we loved it. Apply your sealant according to instructions on the can. We ended up applying 4 coats in total.
Once your sealant is dry, it’s time to install your torched countertops, shelves, or whatever wood you burned!
Burning wood is relatively straight-forward, you just have to start trying it! Ideally test things out on a piece of scrap wood first. Perfect your technique. Figure out how burned you want to go. Then do it! Tackle the real piece and create something amazing.
And as always, we would LOVE to see your photos. Send us a picture of your torched wood project on Instagram and feel free to reach out with any questions!