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Around the Shop #21: Butcher Block restoration.

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Blog entry by Don W posted 10-19-2013 12:59 PM 1213 reads 0 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 20: The Oak Table Restoration. Let's see where it goes. Part 21 of Around the Shop series Part 22: Walker Turner Lathe Restore. Fighting to the bitter end. »

Yesterday, on the way home from running some errands my wife and I stopped at a new local antique mall. The official opening hasn’t happened yet, but there was an open sign, so we pulled in. In a “fix it up yourself” section we found this butcher block top at an extremely reasonable price.

The top itself is in really good shape. It’s got just enough cracks to give it a nice patina, without effecting the integrity and it’s a bit over 14” thick. The big issue…..no legs.
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So the question. I’ve been doing some research, but can’t find the answer. It looks from these pictures,
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that there was some kind of metal (maybe wood?) bracket that helped hold the tenons of the legs in place. If anyone has an example of this bracket, or thoughts what it looks like, comments are appreciated.

So off to the wood pile this morning. I have a pile of bottom cuts off the saw mill. When you get to the last cut of the log, it will be the size of whatever is left. So I often leave some thicker pieces, for moments like these. And low and behold, there is a piece of 3 1/2” x 7 maple, plenty long enough for the 4 legs (or so I hope).

As always, any advice is appreciated.It may sit in the shop for a few, but it also may get shoved to the top of the to-do list. I hear it calling my name. If it wasn’t for these damn leaves!

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com



20 comments so far

View JoeinGa's profile

JoeinGa

3229 posts in 658 days


#1 posted 10-19-2013 01:07 PM

If it was metal, was probably a big version of this

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Don W's profile

Don W

15018 posts in 1219 days


#2 posted 10-19-2013 01:12 PM

I thought about that Joe, but I can’t figure out why. Would it just be to reinforce the wood from sideways stress? So a piece of 1\2” steel with a hole in it would work? Most of the butcher blocks I’ve seen is just wood on wood.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

View ShaneA's profile

ShaneA

5295 posts in 1249 days


#3 posted 10-19-2013 02:00 PM

Whoa, bet it is heavy. The ones I have seen (like 3) have always had wood legs. Similar to a table, throw in a stretcher and it should be damn stable. Heck I might even consider squaring out the round holes for easier tenon fit. Just because I am not real big into turned legs. Look forward to seeing what you come up with.

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12290 posts in 2748 days


#4 posted 10-19-2013 02:07 PM

It might just be round legs with tenons. There is a leg photo in this page that has square legs with round tenons that looks similar to me…

http://www.nerdylorrin.net/jerry/r+j/MyButcherBlk/ButcherBlk.html

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View poopiekat's profile

poopiekat

3622 posts in 2385 days


#5 posted 10-19-2013 02:17 PM

I agree with you, Don, about most butcher block legs being just wood-on-wood, but I found this image in photobucket:

I’ll look for some better images…

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View Don W's profile

Don W

15018 posts in 1219 days


#6 posted 10-19-2013 03:07 PM

I’ll be honest, I never thought of the possible that the legs themselves might have been metal. That’s definitely a possibility. The new legs will most certainly be maple and mostly square. I could turn them, but both my wife and I like the square look. Maybe a taper at the bottom.

I agree the round tenon holes may become square.

thanks guys! Its helping so far. Certainly some new thought processes.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

View Bluepine38's profile

Bluepine38

2876 posts in 1736 days


#7 posted 10-19-2013 04:35 PM

Great looking start for a project, just one caution, decide if you want to redo the top before starting on the
legs. After using a router jig to resurface some cutting blocks a few years ago, the shop had to add some
contrasting feet to the legs to get the surface of the block back to a comfortable working height.

-- As ever, Gus-the 75 yr young apprentice carpenter

View Druid's profile

Druid

615 posts in 1446 days


#8 posted 10-19-2013 11:37 PM

Hi, I think that Joe might be on the right track. Many of these blocks had to sit on floors that were not quite level, but the working surface had to be stable. So, picture the type of flange that Joe showed, and the legs (sections of pipe to match the flange thread) would have a threaded section a couple of inches long. This permitted the legs to be adjustable, and if necessary, protrude through the flange into the recess that your photos show. With this type of adjustment, the block could be relocated and leveled very easily. Wooden legs would not be quite as versatile. The bottom end of the pipe legs would have had either a pipe cap or a rubber boot to prevent the pipe from damaging the floor.

Of course, if you still want the square wooden look, you can make wooden sleeves to fit over the pipes, and leave a gap at the top to permit leveling adjustment.

Hope this helps.

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

View AnthonyReed's profile

AnthonyReed

4637 posts in 1091 days


#9 posted 10-20-2013 04:43 PM

It will be fun to see where you end up on this.

John’s explanation seems on the money.

-- ~Tony

View Dave's profile

Dave

11168 posts in 1491 days


#10 posted 10-22-2013 12:16 PM

Nice find and I love the forensics on the mystery.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are." http://chiselandforge.com

View Don W's profile

Don W

15018 posts in 1219 days


#11 posted 10-26-2013 09:26 PM

much progress…...

The prototype submitted for approval.

Approval so, on with the show.

And as I left the shop tonight.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

View AnthonyReed's profile

AnthonyReed

4637 posts in 1091 days


#12 posted 10-27-2013 01:44 AM

Too slick! That looks great.

-- ~Tony

View poopiekat's profile

poopiekat

3622 posts in 2385 days


#13 posted 10-27-2013 04:17 PM

Don, Tell us how you flip it over, back onto its feet! Looks like it will be a lot of side pressure, as it gets rolled over. Knowing you, you’ve got a plan in mind for this…

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View Don W's profile

Don W

15018 posts in 1219 days


#14 posted 10-27-2013 04:32 PM

I managed to walk it back onto 1 saw bench. Then I tipped it sideways on the other saw bench. The saw bench is just higher enough that I could lay it down, making sure the edge stayed on the second bench. Once the two outside legs were on the floor I just slid the bench out from under it.

pictures later standing upright.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

View ShaneA's profile

ShaneA

5295 posts in 1249 days


#15 posted 10-27-2013 05:02 PM

Can’t quite confirm, and I think my eyes are playing tricks on me…but do the legs have a bit of splay to them? Are you going w/o stretchers?

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