Butcher block repair help needed

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Forum topic by Upsman90 posted 09-28-2015 07:29 PM 1114 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 994 days

09-28-2015 07:29 PM

I received an old butcher block from my father before he passed. It was originally used in his butcher shop. It has been in my fathers basement for the last 40 years. I believe the block is maple. It is 40”L x 30”D x 8” thick double dovetail end grain block. There are at least 4 rods through the block and they are covered by wood plugs. I want to clean it up and oil it so I can install it in my new kitchen. Once I am done sanding I am going to clean it with a mild bleach solution. Then scrub it with salt and white vinegar. I only plan on using food grade mineral oil and possibly bee’s wax to finish it.

Here is my problem. For the last 10 years it has been sitting on one side on his basement floor. As a result of a flooded basement or 2 there is some water damage on that side. The water swelled, cracked and broke some of the dovetail joints. I have tried to clamp the block to see if glueing it was possible but I cannot get the gaps to close. Keeping the cracks concerns me as they are great breeding ground for bacteria. Since I would like to use this for food prep bacteria is a serious concern. I have not found any wood fillers that are specifically food safe and I don’t think the filled cracks will look that good considering their size.

I was thinking that I might try a straight router bit to cut out the cracked sections. Then glue in new pieces.

Along the same line I was thinking about routing out the separations then routing a through dovetail joint to make it look like the new blocks belong. More than likely I would do both the damaged and undamaged sides to make it look like it was a planned ornament rather than a repair.

Any help would be appreciated.

The bad side.

The Good side.

7 replies so far

View Tennessee's profile


2873 posts in 2536 days

#1 posted 09-28-2015 07:42 PM

Instead of taking out the bad sections, have you thought on the idea of giving it all a good sanding, then filling the cracks with epoxy filler, then sanding again and finishing? I would think you will have a heck of a time making the new wood look old, and the epoxy is essentially a goldish clear, so it would allow the patina to show through.

It would also securely seal it against bacteria.

Just an opinion.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

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17421 posts in 3028 days

#2 posted 09-28-2015 07:49 PM

Sheesh, that’s going to be an undertaking. I think id be inclined to fill the gaps with epoxy. A quick good search turns up masterbond and permabond as FDA approved epoxies for food contact.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

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3 posts in 994 days

#3 posted 09-28-2015 09:39 PM

Unfortunately my wife does not like the look of the cracks. So if I really want it in my kitchen (I do most of the cooking) I have to figure something else out. The broken joints only go as far as the first row of blocks. The idea I am formulating in my mind is to build a router jig and use a 1” bit to carve out a 1”wide by 2” deep channel through all 8” of block. Then glue in either a new piece of maple or possibly walnut for contrast. If I do all 6 seams on the long sides of the block it may look better than if I just try to fix the ones on the damaged side. I may also consider doing every 3rd or 4th joint on the short sides to have even spacing of new wood all around the block.

View DrDirt's profile


4424 posts in 3764 days

#4 posted 09-28-2015 09:57 PM

What if you just removed that “Bad Row” from the end, then used a roundover bit. So give up an inch in one direction?

Unfortunately my wife does not like the look of the cracks. So if I really want it in my kitchen (I do most of the cooking) I have to figure something else out.

- Upsman90

That is always the key SWMBO decides what goes in the house.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

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3 posts in 994 days

#5 posted 09-28-2015 11:30 PM

I’ve considered removing that one row and I am not against it. I am concerned that I may make more problems for myself if I try that. I know there are 4 rod in the block but I do not have access to them. I would have to drill out the plugs on both sides. I am not sure if I want to take the risk of more damage by taking it apart.

View camps764's profile


867 posts in 2382 days

#6 posted 09-29-2015 01:10 AM

I think I’d cut the dammaged end off. As far as the rods are concerned, If you know how deep they are you could use a guide and circular saw to cut just above the rods, then use a reciprocating saw with a metal cutting blade on it to saw through the rods.

then use a slightly oversized drill bit to drill out the rods just below the surface and plug.

-- Steve

View ChefHDAN's profile


1067 posts in 2871 days

#7 posted 09-29-2015 03:56 AM

Upsman this is a classic case of pick your battles. The top is mostly screwed, there is no real repair that will satisfy SWMBO and while I could suggest the fact that you could use poly boards for protein work which is the majority of the bacteria concerns for this table, that fact that your wife already does not like the table warrants that your efforts are in vain…. Why do I know…well.. my primary bench in my shop is the butcher block table that was in my family kitchen while I was 7 to 16. Mine I could make pretty but it would still not fit the “design concept” of our house. ... As long as she stays out of my shop she can do what she pleases with eh rest of the house… (sorta)

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

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