If you remember, part of our plan for the kitchen was to replace the laminate countertops with butcher block. We bought three Lagan countertops from IKEA for just $59 each. They came in 8 foot lengths so the first step was to cut them down to size. We needed two pieces to go on either side of the sink, a large piece with a cut-out for the stove, and a long narrow piece for the bar. Zach also cut out a windowsill for the kitchen window with some of the leftover wood. After the pieces were cut, we sanded them down, with a belt sander, to remove the existing coat of tung oil.
Since it was way too hot to stain and seal them outside in the garage, we cleared out one of the bedrooms. We had both windows open and a fan going to circulate the air but even so I wore a paint respirator.
After sanding, they got a coat of wood conditioner, followed by two coats of Minwax dark walnut stain. I let them dry for three days before sealing them with Waterlox. I coated the bottom with two coats of original Waterlox, allowing 24 hours dry time between coats. Then I flipped them over and started on the tops, applying four coats of original Waterlox, followed by one coat of Satin Waterlox, again allowing 24 hours of dry time between coats. The original Waterlox must be used as the base coat, but can also be used as the top coat, which gives a semi-gloss sheen. However, we opted for a satin sheen, and used Satin Waterlox for our top coat. (Complete Waterlox instructions can be found here).
Overall, we're really pleased with the result. The only problem we had was small air bubbles during application that caused the surface to be a little rough. I think it may have had something to do with the heat since we followed all the recommended steps to prevent bubbles. Here they are, stained, sealed, and ready to install.
UPDATE: I went back and lightly sanded the counters with a very fine (220) grit sanding sponge, then applied one more coat of satin Waterlox. It made a big difference and they are now much smoother to the touch. (Waterlox does not recommend between coat sanding for adhesion purposes, but does say a light sanding before the last coat can help with the appearance, which in our case meant smoothing out the bubbles).