Tuesday, April 6, 2010

IKEA Stenstorp Island

A month ago I bought a Stenstorp Island at IKEA. I vacillated back and forth about what to do before I bought it because I really wanted a black Island and I wanted to have electricity on the bar so that I can run my Bosch. While my Mom and I were shopping the idea of a plug in the floor struck. But, how do you pull that off?  (update- My IKEA Island Hack, now it's Black!)

In comes my Dad. My Dad found a pretty brass plug (40.00) that he installed in the floor. It is flat, has a mopping cap and does not show under the Island, but I can reach it to plug the mixer in. Perfect! The plug is on it's own GFI circuit (25.00) in the panel box for safety.  With careful measuring we installed it between the joists in the floor and ran the wiring (20.00) to the panel box. In an afternoon we had it in. (Be sure to run a bead of caulk under the plug assembly to protect your floor from moisture during mopping.)

The IKEA Stenstorp requires a bit of TLC, but it is coming along. I assembled the Island by my self with a few hands to help steady it at a couple of points which pleased my D.I.Y. nature. The instructions recommend assembling it on a blanket. I recommend this, it can easily be damaged during assembly. ( Be aware the butcher block is dry and brittle. The surface chips easily during handling. I encountered a small chip along the edge and glued it with wood glue.)

After assembly the butcher block top has required my attention a couple of times a week. I have sanded it with wet/dry 320 sand paper and it gets rubbed with mineral oil (I knead bread on the butcher block, so I wanted it to be food safe) at least once a week now. I was oiling it more often in the beginning. One day a family member spilled water on the island. I was frustrated because it raised the grain. I decided to go with it. I wrung a wet rag out onto the surface let it stand a minute and then hit it with the wet dry sand paper. The oil sort of mixed with the water as I sanded, but the result was a smooth satin finish on the Island. Yipee! I wiped it down well and let it dry before applying more oil.
We are basically spoiled as a society. We expect things to be bullet proof and require no fuss. The butcher block is definitely not bullet proof.

(The color of the wood continues to darken and has darkened a lot since I took this picture.) I am careful with the Island and use place mats where the kids eat. I use a trivet to elevate things that I set on the Island and I will continue to hit any rough spots that rise with 320 grit w/d paper. I bought two bottles of mineral oil (it is food safe oil, much safer than stain or varnish which can flake) at the pharmacy and will continue to oil it as I go. I have never had a butcher block counter top before, but I can see that it would NOT be a great idea near a sink in my home. It is an affordable alternative, but it would not be my recommendation for anything other than an Island. Be aware that you must keep cast iron utensils/trivets etc. off of the wood. If moisture comes into contact with the two together the cast iron will stain the wood. I just do not set my cast iron down on my table or the Island ever. I have had two stains on my table that required sanding to remove them. (Sometimes the stains can be too deep to be sanded out.)

I am very happy with my Island. I feel like I got a lot of bang for my buck with more storage space for things.

Best wishes!


  1. That's a beautiful butcher block island. Isn't it nice to have handy men around?
    Thanks for joining my link party. I may start having one weekly and you're always welcome to join in.
    ☺ Celeste

  2. I love that island. I wish I had space in my kitchen for one. On a side note, I click on your blog and the amazing picture of bread popped up--I instantly got hungry.

  3. this island seems good ^^
    i am going to buy this butcher block island, mainly for making bread and cakes. i checked your lovely bread photos and would like to ask for advice, do i need to take any special care when working on it? Will the flour and water easily trapped in between the blocks and hard to clean? thanks ^^

  4. Wanmee,

    If you care for your Island properly you will have no problem kneading bread on it or making cakes. I roll my Fondant on a plastic mat and not on the wood. I prefer a plastic mat anchored to the counter with masking tape.

    I reccomend sanding your island with fine sand paper a couple of times a year to keep it smooth.

    Oil it ever couple of months with mineral oil. Declare your Island a dry zone. Wiping it with a wash cloth is fine. But, don't lay wet things on it. Also right after you get it... Raise the grain intentionally. Yes, you heard me. Wipe it down with a wet rag. Let it sit for anout 5 minutes. Dry the island with a towel, air dry and then sand with a fine grit sanding block. (Or fine grit wrapped around a wood block.) I reccomend using a block, hand sanding will eventually produce an unlevel surface on your island. The different woods will snad differently and you'll have waves.

    When you oil it leave the a lot of extra oil on it and leave the oil to soak in over night. Good luck. :o)

  5. Hi! I was googling to discover how to care for my new stenstorp and came across this awesome post!!!

    So, I bought the mineral oil-- how do I apply? Also, when I sand, do I move in circles, back and forth, against or with the grain...??

    Sorry, am a total newbie!

    Thanks for your helpful post though!!

  6. Michelle,

    Go with the grain, never circles. And like I said the my previous comment, use a sanding block and fine grit paper. Ask at your home center and they will recommend a sand paper. And for applying the mineral oil retire and old wash cloth. Liberally apply the oil. Spread it with the rag and store the rag in a small container. Don't wash the rag. Just drop it in for the next use.
    Don't wipe the excess oil off either. Let it sit over night each time and then wipe the island with a paper towel in the morning.
    Goo luck!
    I hope you will post about your island and link to my post. :o)

    1. Hey there Mom to Many,

      I found your review very helpful. Thanks!
      This comment caught my eye. I'd recommend not storing the oil-soaked rag in a container as mentioned above. It is always best to thoroughly clean these sorts of rags after use to avoid spontaneous ignition - see the excerpt below from IKEA:

      NOTE! Clean used brushes with water, soak used cloths in water or burn them under careful supervision to eliminate the risk of spontaneous ignition.

      I was rudely awakened early in the morning once by a fire that destroyed the house next to me once. The suspected cause was spontaneous ignition by paint rags.

    2. A commenter was concerned about my practice of keeping the rag for future uses. I had no idea mineral oil (basically unscented baby oil if you are using the pharmacy variety like me) could combust. But, safety is pretty important.
      Use a fresh rag to be safe.

  7. Thank you!!! Got the sanding block and will start tonight!! I feel like I am taking care of a pet or something haha. Thanks so much!

  8. Michelle

    I guess it is a pet of sorts. (I love my pet.) Once you get a good cure on it you won't need to oil it as often. Maybe that will comfort you. ;o)

    My Island gets a lot of use.
    I hope you enjoy yours.


  9. Look what I found today- http://welcometoheardmont.com/2011/03/adding-green-in-our-kitchen/

  10. Wow, thanks for sharing that link, loved it!

  11. PS I had an issue for about a month where there were pinholes and little piles of dust appearing every morning. Internet told me the wood must have had bugs in it prior to manufacturing. So weird, right? I called IKEA and they had no idea what I was talking about (naturally!). Anyway, the piles have disappeared for now so I am just hoping the problem has solved itself. Otherwise, apparently I need to apply some kind of treatment. Hope no one else has this problem!!

  12. Yikes Michelle! We bought a house years ago, a brand new house, that had wood beetles. I managed to find someone who knew what they were. The lumber had been stored for a time prior to our home being built and so they crawled out of their little nooks and crannies after the home was built. I was told with this particular bug to just get rid of each bug as I saw it and soon they would be gone. So, as instructed I diligently vacuumed and cleaned my new home until the bugs were gone. But, in your Island? Weird. A new one for the books. :o)

  13. Michelle- I wonder if your little helpers perished as a result of the wood drying out and the oiling.

    Interesting. :o)

  14. Michelle

    Look what I found.
    Okay kids apparently this is a possibility. Be aware. They will replace it if it happens.