A couple of weeks ago, Dakota brought home the lovely, hand-made butcher block top pictured below. It's smooth and square and perfectly sealed, and I love it. Plus, the butcher block is a re-use, so the materials cost nothing. Dakota cut and glued together strips from a hard maple tool* left over from a custom table he made for a designer client.
The butcher block top sits on our kitchen island. It sticks out farther on one side, so that we can pull up a stool and eat, or just hang out in the kitchen while someone else is cooking.
Last weekend, Dakota cut the Richlite counter tops that we're using in the rest of the kitchen. Richlite is a sustainable building material that looks and works in a way similar to slate. Here's the description from the company website:
Richlite® is primarily paper treated with phenolic resin and baked to create a solid sheet. During the production cycle the layers of paper are gradually crossed-linked with each other to create solid, durable sheets... Richlite® paper comes from pulp that is derived from trees, which is produced from paper purchased from FSC-Certified sources and/or recycled paper.
In addition, if you're concerned about such things, Richlite doesn't off-gas and they create no hazardous waste during the production process. It comes in a variety of nice colors, it's scratch and stain resistant, and you can put hot pots on Richlite without damaging it. In the shot below, the countertop hasn't been sealed yet. In it's final form, it will be a bit shinier.
Dakota took great care in cutting our one sheet of Richlite because, besides being green, it's kind of expensive. Although, I believe it's pretty comparable, price-wise, with many other common countertop materials. My parents actually gave me this particular sheet of black Richlite for my 30th birthday. Great gift, huh?
Tomorrow, the painted cabinets are getting a layer of sealant. Once that's done, we'll be able to attach the countertops permanently. I am pretty psyched to have them installed. It's been okay working with cutting boards on top of raw plywood cabinet tops, but having the real surfaces will make cooking so much nicer. And, our green kitchen will be that much closer to completion.
* A "tool" in this context is a sort of mold around which a metal table top was spun and bent.