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Minimum Thickness for End Grain

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Forum topic by dustbunny posted 05-23-2010 02:55 PM 5817 views 0 times favorited 30 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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dustbunny

1149 posts in 2761 days


05-23-2010 02:55 PM

Topic tags/keywords: cutting board butcher block end grain

I have a customer who is asking me to make butcher block for her bar island.
She thinks it is 4’ x 6’. My plan is to make this in four sections
then glue up those for sections for the complete top.
Purpleheart and hard maple, end grain.
It is going to sit on a 3/4” ply base, and be edge trimmed.
There are cabinets under the base.

I made a couple sketch up patterns to give her ideas on a creating her own pattern-

Photobucket

Photobucket

My question is- What is the minimum thickness I can make this in end grain ?
We want to keep the weight down as much as possible.
What obstacles am I facing making this GIANT cutting board ?
Does anyone know how to estimate the weight of the finished top ?

Any ideas would be appreciated,

Lisa

-- Imagination rules the world. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte ~ http://quiltedwood.com


30 replies so far

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patron

13538 posts in 2807 days


#1 posted 05-23-2010 02:59 PM

beats me , lisa ,
but with good glue ,
and tight clamps ,

’ how low can you go ” ?

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

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Karson

35035 posts in 3866 days


#2 posted 05-23-2010 03:18 PM

As to weight. Find the weight of the wood species that you are going to use. I used to use 4lbs per sq. ft as a rough estimate. so for your 4 X 6 at 24 sq ft id guess 100 lbs. as a beginning estimate. That’s for a top that is 1” thick.

From the web Weight: Hard maple:42-45 lbs./cuft. Soft: 35 lbs/cuft.

A cubc foot is 12 sq. Ft at 1” thick

You would need to estimate the ply also. It’s usually made with a wood species that is not as heavy say popular.

Here is a website that has many species and their weight.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia karsonwm@gmail.com †

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eddy

936 posts in 2830 days


#3 posted 05-23-2010 03:54 PM

Lisa, i have made end grain boards as thin as 1/2 inch with out any issues. seeings how this is going to be glues to ply i would shoot for this thickness. i think any thinner and you would have glue up issues or possibly warping with the wood getting wet form the glue up

-- self proclaimed copycat

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teenagewoodworker

2727 posts in 3234 days


#4 posted 05-23-2010 04:28 PM

I would stray away from this. remember the wood needs to expand and contract. You’re looking at a big 4×6 board here. If you glue it to plywood it will blow up. The same goes for if you trim it. That’s why if you see the old french butcher blocks and things they have big metal brackets attaching everything. to hold it all together but it all cracks eventually. most companies won’t deal in blocks this big for the same reason. you can’t attach it and it will probably still warp and crack.

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sras

4392 posts in 2595 days


#5 posted 05-23-2010 04:36 PM

This is going to be so cool!

How do you think your customer will treat this top? If they are going to be using it as a cutting board, you should allow for several refinish processes – including sanding down. This could also apply if you are expecting this to be around for a long time.

A large end grain piece will definitely move a lot with expansion/contraction. I would consider mounting methods that allow for the top to move on its plywood support. You really do not want to create something this fantastic and then have cracks show up. Maybe screws with oversized holes and large washers. You could lock it down in the center – maybe a 8 to 12 inch zone that is screwed directly to the plywood support.

If the end grain top needs to float on the plywood base, then the top needs to be structural do a large degree.

Given these three observations, I would go no thinner than 1 1/2 inches and would not think 3 or 4 inches to be overkill. Professional butcher blocks tables can be much thicker – but they get beat on!

A final thought is that as the top gets thicker, the counter will get taller. Depending on your customer, this could be a good thing. If the structure under the counter is also new, its height can be adjsuted as you determine the final thickness of the top.

I am looking forward to seeing what you create!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

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sras

4392 posts in 2595 days


#6 posted 05-23-2010 04:43 PM

Teenagewoodworker brings up a good point (we were typing at the same time). It could crack on its own. Here is another thought. You could make 4 2’x3’ boards and lock them down in the center of the 4×6 assembly. This would create slip joints. You could even use a sliding dado style feature along the slip joint. Slotted holes along the slip line should ensure a tight fit.

There are several examples of 2×3 cutting boards. That should be a safe size.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

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JAGWAH

929 posts in 2550 days


#7 posted 05-23-2010 04:49 PM

A client I did work for had a large bureau with top made of 4”x 4” ingrain material with a lovely marquitry border. The pieces were 1/4” thick and every square had checked and curled up ever so slightly at their edges. The top looked like an old abused piece.

He said it was brand new he bought it made that way, called it a NewTique instead of antique.

Your patterns look cool. This should be a fun and unique looking top. But I might try to stay 1/2” plus in the thickness. At worst if it curls or checks you can call it a newtique maybe thry’ll like it.

Just a side note be very careful the substrate. If the plywood is of poor manufacture the upper veneer could delaminate due to the glues curing that are used to adhere them together.

-- ~Just A Guy With A Hammer~

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teenagewoodworker

2727 posts in 3234 days


#8 posted 05-23-2010 04:57 PM

JAGWAH brings up a good point on the plywood. be carefull with that too as most of it is not made to be used in an environment were it will be wet. if there is water on the board and it is not sealed it could go right down through. Also do to one side what you do to the other. In this case if you attach it you are locking off one side of the ply and not the other. which could cause the ply to warp due to moisture imbalance and it will crack the board.

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Mary Anne

1058 posts in 2674 days


#9 posted 05-23-2010 05:07 PM

I don’t know nuttin’ about how to handle it structurally, but I have no doubt it will be the centerpiece of the kitchen and a source of joy for its owner. You can get really creative with the design.

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a1Jim

115202 posts in 3043 days


#10 posted 05-23-2010 06:14 PM

A cool design sounds like the rest have the weight issue handled

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

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sras

4392 posts in 2595 days


#11 posted 05-23-2010 09:02 PM

Hope you don’t mind another thought from me – I find myself puzzling over this one. Another possibility might be to seal the wood with something like a bar top epoxy . Might have to seal both sides …

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

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TopamaxSurvivor

17672 posts in 3142 days


#12 posted 05-23-2010 09:22 PM

Here’s another that will give weight per cu ft instead of by the cord http://www.ces.purdue.edu/extmedia/FNR/FNR-109.html

Make sure both sides get the same finish!

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

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TopamaxSurvivor

17672 posts in 3142 days


#13 posted 05-23-2010 09:37 PM

I just calculated the weight of a maple slab I cut for making my lathe mount. It was about all I wanted to lift and handle, so I guessed the weight at a bit over 100 pounds. That web sites figures make it 120.5. I can’t weight until it drys, it will be down to 70.75 :-))

It doesn’t give a weight for purple heart, but using the maple figure, the cutting board top would be 110 pounds at 1 1/2 thick.

I agree that gluing the whole thing down would be a disaster. Maybe secure it from the bottom in the middle.

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

View dustbunny's profile

dustbunny

1149 posts in 2761 days


#14 posted 05-23-2010 09:52 PM

Wow, so many things to consider.
Dennis- You are right about not gluing to a border or to the ply. My plan is to use the ply just for support, no adhesive. Border it with purpleheart flat grain using silicone between the board and the frame to allow for expansion and contraction. The frame will be glued to itself on the miters. Or no frame. This should prevent any liquid spill issues. I will seal the ply. I think this would work ?
Karson- Thank you for the weights and measures. That helps give me a better idea.
JAGWAH- Sorry, I don’t think she would appreciate NewTique….LOL
Steve- You are really excited about this ! No way on the bar top coat. I don’t think I could pull that off in one pour, and I am sure she doesn’t want to pay all that money. It’s expensive. Planning on the usual Howard’s Butcher Block Conditioner and a buffed out coat of beeswax with carnuba wax for hardness.

I am thinking no less than an inch in thickness, no more than 1 1/2”. Based on the feedback.
I guess that means 1 1/4” thick ? Eddy I am leery about going 1/2” thin.
I have made small pieces in endgrain thinner than 1/2”,
but it just doesn’t seem warp proof on a piece this size.
With 30 bf of lumber I don’t want to take a chance.
I think this will be more of a countertop than a cutting station.
With the build not glued to the bottom it can also be removed to be worked on if needed.
Just cut the silicone.

Thanks for all the great input, I am open to more if you have it.
I hope she decides to go forward with this project,

Lisa

-- Imagination rules the world. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte ~ http://quiltedwood.com

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TopamaxSurvivor

17672 posts in 3142 days


#15 posted 05-23-2010 09:57 PM

Going 1 1/4 thick would cut the weight to 92 pounds.

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

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