Sassafras kitchen shelving

sassafras kitchen shelves

Look what I did! I made and installed some shelves, that’s what. As noted in the post title, no plain old radiata pine here. Sassafras kitchen shelving all the way!

sassafras boards

Here’s a sampling of our ever-growing timber pile. These boards are 7ft long x 1ft across.

1. The state we live in is renowned for its timber. Blackwood, myrtle, blackheart sassafras and huon pine, just to name a handful. All three of these boards are sassafras, but the board in the middle has the dark ‘blackheart’ variegation. NB: I am specifically referring to southern sassafras.

2. Specialty timber slabs are readily available and reasonably priced, if you know where to look. Sawmills are the obvious option, regional antique stores sometimes have them, and there’s always dudes posting listings on Gumtree and eBay. We’ve been acquiring ours at auctions.

Therefore, why buy plain jane boards from the hardware store for decorative purposes when we can find specialty timbers for a comparable price?

sass sawn

I chose the slab on the left for my kitchen shelves, and I just went ahead and used the hand saw to cut my two boards. Sassafras is quite soft and workable, so it wasn’t difficult to keep my lines straight. I gave them a round of 120 grit sanding with the machine and then hand-sanded them with 240 pads.

sassafras oiled 1sassafras oiled

This is the finish that that Jamie’s dad recommended to me: matte poly to seal your timber and then an oil finish. The oil finish is easy to touch up when needed; no sanding back to raw timber. It took three coats of matte Estapol to seal these soft sassafras boards, plus one extra for the end grain. (I could have used less, but I wanted the boards semi-glossy.) As for the oil finish, I used Feast Watson fine buffing oil, which is a mixture of tung oil and beeswax.

cubby old

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, this dinky laminate cubby is what the shelves are replacing. Why, yes, that counter is full of our junk with no place to go.

cubby wall patching

I unscrewed and removed the cubby, which was also glued onto the wall. So that required some patching and painting.

Now, I had planned to remove the stainless backsplash piece directly underneath, too. But that was more complicated than expected. It wasn’t a thin steel piece attached to the wall, like I thought. It was an ultra-thin steel veneer on top of a thick piece of MDF with a giant cavity behind it. We pretty much would have had to rebuild that section of the wall. NOT WORTH IT.

So I painted over that section of the stainless backsplash the exact same way I painted the laminate cabinets. Zinsser BIN primer, two coats of ‘Winter Mood’ white water-based enamel. That section now matches the cabinets. Works for me.

cubby cleaned up

Blank slate – complete. Shelf boards – complete. ASSEMBLE.

sassafras kitchen shelves 2

Well hi and hello!

The shelves are on IKEA LERBERG brackets. Of course we went to IKEA when we were in Melbourne last month. If I’m feeling fussy, the brackets feel a bit large here, but I really like the shape.

My partner and his family drink hot tea all day every day, so having a tea shelf is important. So is having a tray of hot sauces. Jamie has developed a taste for putting hot sauce on everything, which I find weirdly endearing.

I gotta give a special mention to the Mother Road growler. My brother got it from the brewery in Flagstaff, and he graciously let me have it as a souvenir. Flagstaff is on Route 66, which was referred to as ‘the mother road’ during the Depression era when migrants were heading west. I haven’t actually tried their beer, but I adore this growler.

tea shelf

Love the grain in the boards . I chose that slab for these shelves because of the continuation onto the edges.

12:13 kitchen progress

And here’s that section of the kitchen as a whole. Work in progress, but I’m happy with how it’s going.

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