Why anyone would want to do this is a question you may have in mind, but before you call me crazy, let me start from the beginning!

This old stove is quite old – it’s considerably older than I am, in fact. My mother paid R100 for it second hand back in 1968, some years before I was even born! As legend had it, the first drops of rain that would become the Great Flood of ’68 were just starting to fall over PE! Her previous old stove had packed up and she’d called an electrician in to look at it. He told her that one had ‘had its chips’, and offered her this stove – which was on the back of his bakkie at that moment. It only needed to be rewired – which he did on the spot as part of the job, and for the next thirty years or so, that stove occupied pride of place in our kitchen.

Back in 2003, I started to involve myself in renovations around the house, and wanted to put in new kitchen cupboards – and a new stove and eye-level oven, to replace this ancient old thing! My old mother – bless her, wouldn’t have any of that – in fact, we had quite a blow-out about that stove! Not having used it much myself up to that point, I wasn’t aware of what a lovely oven this old stove had! In retrospect, it really was worth holding onto.

The oven’s loveliness aside, the stove plates were a bit iffy, and since the correct replacement original parts were impossible to come by, we’d always made do with whatever spiral or solid plates could be forced into those spaces and jury-rigged to match the ancient wiring layout! Despite having rewired the stove twice since 1985, on one occasion it had also taken to shocking people who touched the casing! It certainly was entertaining, and no mistake – making dinner became something of a hazard until I got an electrician in to rewire it… again.

Modern stoves are small and tinny inside (and outside) by comparison, Mom insisted, and this old one has a lovely big oven that’s perfect for broiling steaks and making pizza and other dishes that can use heat from top and bottom simultaneously. But enough of that – I’m not trying to sell you a stove now, am I? 😉

Wendy and I have stopped eating beef since 2018, for reasons of our own, but we both agree, it did make the most amazing steaks and pork chops! We still use it to make pizza and to bake cakes and muffins etc. – but I digress.

To continue, I was talked out of redoing the kitchen the way I’d envisioned it by my mother, who whimsically reminded me that it was still her house, and I could do with the stove as I liked after her death!

So it was, in 2013, after my mother passed away that ESKOM launched into a fresh round of loadshedding, and living alone, I switched from cooking with electricity to using LP gas. I bought a gas table-top stove and no longer risked personal injury using the erratic old stove plates! I still used the oven for certain things (including steaks!) and began to appreciate it for its size and the results! New isn’t always better, right?

Then about two years ago, I was again fixing up the kitchen and I pondered my options. My other half and I agreed that the oven was better than anything new we’d find for the same price as the one we already had – but the top was the issue – we didn’t like using those plates anymore at all – we cooked with gas, and in the meantime we’d started using the top of the stove as a sort of counter, and it became cluttered and untidy. A friend of mine often said, ‘it is what it does’ – and so I decided to make it into an extra kitchen counter instead.

Before I go any further, I should point out that I disconnected and insulated all the wiring from the plates on the stove top and removed the fuses that ran that part of the stove so they wouldn’t accidentally set the wooden counter on fire on top of them! This was vital, since I had no plans to remove the top of the stove or the switches etc. from the cabinet – or to use them again. You could of course do that, remove the switches and plates entirely, and cover the holes under the counter and edging, but I wanted to do it my own way and preserve the look of the stove as it was.

The counter top was relatively easy to build – I measured the dimensions of the stove top with a tape measure, and with a lot of fitting, adjusting, more fitting, more adjusting, etc. – and lots of trips between the workshop and the kitchen, after an afternoon’s work, I ended up with the slip-on removable stove-top wooden kitchen counter you see here!

I used pallet wood for this project – which cost me about R30 for a few old pallets. The sides of the counter were nicely framed by off-cuts of 100-year-old pine ceiling boards I had in stock! Some cutting, sanding and varnishing were required, and this is the result! Incidentally, the more layers of varish you add, the more glossy the finish and the easier it will be to keep clean.

The counter isn’t attached to the stove, it’s just a nice snug and secure fit. If we need to clean under it for any reason, the counter can just be lifted off.

As you can see, we keep our convection oven on it, but it also provides a handy and attractive extra working space! … which also happens to make lovely steaksssss! 😉

Pictures below – enjoy! 🙂


If you’d like to send Christina Engela a question about anything on this site, or her life as a writer or transactivist, please send an email to christinaengela@gmail.com or use the Contact form on her author website.

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