19th Century French Butcher Block Table

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Project by Eli posted 03-08-2010 05:34 AM 10800 views 20 times favorited 36 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a reproduction I did for a client. They wanted it to look exactly like the one in the photograph (picture 3). I researched the table and found this style was originally by Gilles Augustin, although there are murmurs that he based it on an earlier form. The table measures 6’ wide, 3’ deep and about 38” tall (I think, I don’t remember the height exactly). I do remember that the table top was surprisingly low, around 28”. The butcher block part is hard maple and the rest is soft maple.

Almost every aspect of this table was an adventure for me. I was able to take the drawer fronts our of the aprons, so the grain flows straight through. I located an iron yard outside of Boston for the corner brackets, although I had to bend them myself. The elephant in the piece is the top. It’s an end-grain butcher block and was dished out, like the original. That was a pain. The table was finished with two dyes, oil, and wax, except the top. Despite the client’s assurances that it was a show piece, I wasn’t comfortable dyeing the top, so it’s just oiled and waxed, both food safe. Finally, it was distressed. I tried to be realistic with the distressing. That means no keys and no nails. I used edged tools, and an occasional mallet, in “realistic” ways. At one point, I took a break from denting mouldings and came back to my girlfriend pretending to “chop vegetables.” Adorable.

The piece goes together in 4 parts: the base, the moulding under the top, the top, and the back-board. It was done this way because the base only made it through the door by 1”. Also, the top itself was really heavy, so the more we could break it up, the better.

In the end, I was satisfied with the piece and, more importantly, my clients were. I learned a lot of new techniques and even more about client relations.

36 comments so far

View Eli's profile


141 posts in 2970 days

#1 posted 03-08-2010 05:38 AM

P.S. The top moved like crazy. Luckily I built it in summer so it just had some gaps and didn’t explode. Also, they did not end up getting the bull’s head. We looked around for one, then talked about having one carved, but in the end just skipped it.

View Chelios's profile


568 posts in 3030 days

#2 posted 03-08-2010 05:51 AM

This is amazing work. Congrats… How will it behave when it gets wet from food and cleaning?

View cajunpen's profile


14575 posts in 4030 days

#3 posted 03-08-2010 05:52 AM

That is quite a piece of craftsmanship. Well done. I bet that it’s pretty heavy.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View Eli's profile


141 posts in 2970 days

#4 posted 03-08-2010 05:54 AM

Here’s are the step-by-step photos:

The food and cleaning won’t do as much as the seasons. The clients are using it as more of a sideboard or server, though.

View Puupaja's profile


310 posts in 3064 days

#5 posted 03-08-2010 05:56 AM

Really nice work I belive that making top like that is big adventure…


View donjoe's profile


1360 posts in 2995 days

#6 posted 03-08-2010 06:03 AM

Wow. All I can say is EXCELLENT WORK

-- Donnie-- listen to the wood.

View 559dustdesigns's profile


633 posts in 3132 days

#7 posted 03-08-2010 06:13 AM

Nice job, that’s got to be quite heavy.

-- Aaron - central California "If you haven't got the time to do it right, when will you find the time to do it over?"

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3732 days

#8 posted 03-08-2010 06:14 AM

nice… i remember watching you build that one… it was probably the first real play by play… good time

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18246 posts in 3640 days

#9 posted 03-08-2010 06:18 AM

Nice work. welcome to LJ!!

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Tim29's profile


307 posts in 3114 days

#10 posted 03-08-2010 06:21 AM

Nice job. very accurate to the photo.

-- Tim, Nevada MO

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3637 days

#11 posted 03-08-2010 06:31 AM

Nice work.

View blockhead's profile


1475 posts in 3272 days

#12 posted 03-08-2010 07:05 AM

What a gorgeous reproduction and the finish is perfect. I can’t imagine what a pain the top was. Very well done.

-- Brad, Oregon- The things that come to those who wait, may be the things left by those who got there first.

View Monty Queen's profile

Monty Queen

1593 posts in 3216 days

#13 posted 03-08-2010 07:05 AM

Awesom job on the butcher block, very nice.

-- Monty Q, Columbia, South Carolina.

View savannah505's profile


1812 posts in 3550 days

#14 posted 03-08-2010 07:42 AM

Thats a helluva job, great work.

-- Dan Wiggins

View deon's profile


2522 posts in 2990 days

#15 posted 03-08-2010 08:35 AM

Amazing work

-- Dreaming patterns

showing 1 through 15 of 36 comments

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