LumberJocks

Modern Butcher Block

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Project by JayG46 posted 07-29-2014 07:48 AM 1456 views 5 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

One of my buddies has been looking for a butcher block for a long time and has been unable to find something that really fit his eye. We grew up together and he said he wanted something that looked like the one in my mom's house and luckily, I had made something similar a couple months ago for another friend. This one is 36” tall instead of 32-34” like many butcher blocks but he said he’d rather have it at counter height.

The “client” also requested a wood with some color that would get darker over time and cherry seemed to be the obvious choice. I bought most of the lumber from a small supplier who usually only carries domestic stock, but I found a nice piece of jatoba in his barn that was 2 1/4” thick, 4” wide and 10 feet long. He sold it to me for $18, which helped counteract the fact that I paid $10 a lineal foot for the 2.5” square leg stock that I ended up wrapping with 3/4” material on two sides anyway. Time was of the essence and it probably saved me from spending another half day on the project, you live and you learn.

While gluing up the top, I didn’t notice that there was a little bit of planer snipe on one of the pieces of jatoba until it was too late, so I threw in a quick, irregularly shaped butterfly key just in case the gap tried to open up further down the road.

There is a knife slot on one of the sides but I didn’t include any hardware for hanging a towel since the floating top allows you to drape it over the apron.

The sides/aprons have oversized finger joints that are screwed together and to the legs, and along with the stretchers/shelf supports on the bottom, create a nice, solid base. The top is attached to the legs via 1” maple dowels. I drilled 1 1/4” deep holes into the top of the legs with a 1” forstner bit and cut the dowels off at 2” in length. I then drilled corresponding 3/4” deep holes in the top with a 1 1/8” bit, allowing a margin for error and some room for the expansion and contraction of the top.

The final touch, and the one that I feel makes this “modern” butcher block is the use of 1/2” aluminum dowels to support the lower shelf and plug the screw holes. I used a quick zero clearance jig made out of MDF to cut them on the chop saw and although it took quite a while to make them, I think it adds a distinct touch to the piece. They are slightly proud of the surface, giving it a bit of an industrial feel.

It is finished with Watco Butcher Block Oil and this was my first experience with the product. It was easy to apply, particularly when thinned with about 25% mineral spirits. Of course, the true test of a finish for a cutting surface is daily use, so I will check in with my friend down the line to see how it holds up.

Thanks for checking it out!

-- Jay Gargiulo, Naples, FL www.swallowtailwoodcraft.com "Once you understand the way broadly, you can see it in all things."- Miyamoto Musashi





6 comments so far

View Thepps's profile

Thepps

139 posts in 3220 days


#1 posted 07-29-2014 12:59 PM

This is very cool. I love the design!

-- Thepps - Freeburg, IL

View Mr M's Woodshop's profile

Mr M's Woodshop

394 posts in 2533 days


#2 posted 07-29-2014 04:04 PM

Very nice. The bottom shelf is a great detail, too often overlooked.

-- Henry Mowry, Santa Clarita, CA, http://www.MowryJournal.com

View Tim Royal 's profile

Tim Royal

203 posts in 953 days


#3 posted 07-29-2014 07:15 PM

You thinned the oil with mineral spirits or oil? Spirits are poison so I hope you did not put them on the cutting surface. Project is very attractive!

-- -Tim Royal... Always reminded of this when I see the amazing work LJ's do (I have no choice but to be humble!), "Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real." -Thomas Merton

View JayG46's profile

JayG46

138 posts in 1324 days


#4 posted 07-29-2014 08:40 PM

Thanks for the kind words, guys.

Tim, mineral spirits are certainly a toxic substance but they evaporate very quickly leaving a surface that is safe to use. Many food safe finishes (like General Finishes Salad Bowl Finish) contain a high percentage of mineral spirits (30-40%) but once they have cured (72 hours), they are considered okay to cut on.

-- Jay Gargiulo, Naples, FL www.swallowtailwoodcraft.com "Once you understand the way broadly, you can see it in all things."- Miyamoto Musashi

View Tim Royal 's profile

Tim Royal

203 posts in 953 days


#5 posted 07-29-2014 09:34 PM

Ahhh, I guess that makes sense (knew they were high VOC) have only used mineral oil and beeswax on my cutting boards and butcher blocks. Bowl turning is in the future so I guess I’ll do my own experimentation.

-- -Tim Royal... Always reminded of this when I see the amazing work LJ's do (I have no choice but to be humble!), "Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real." -Thomas Merton

View majuvla's profile

majuvla

9155 posts in 2334 days


#6 posted 07-30-2014 03:36 PM

Too good to lay a knife on it!

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

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