Advice on heart pine 'butcher block'

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Forum topic by Paullcc posted 01-08-2015 05:29 PM 996 views 0 times favorited 0 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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01-08-2015 05:29 PM

I am about to start making ‘butcher-block’ (not true butcher-block but laminated edge-grain) countertops for some areas of my kitchen and could use advice on a couple of questions if someone with more experience is willing to spare the time.
I have quite a large pile of salvaged heart pine framing lumber, 2×4’s and 2×6’s. Some of it is a little newer but much is old growth timber logged around 1800. It is very straight-grained, heavy and tough. Lengths range from a couple feet to maybe 6’, widths are around 2” but vary with age, the older stuff being true dimensional lumber, the newer stuff a little smaller. I love the look of this stuff when planed and I can get it for free so I’m pretty much set on heart-pine, even though I know it’s not a typical butcher-block material. I plan on a tung oil finish and allowing the counters to age, I’m not in the least bit worried about dings and scratches, although incidentally this stuff is a lot tougher than you might expect. At least according to the Janka scale heart-pine is not that far from maple at 1225 to maple’s 1450. Am I missing something here?
My plan is to rip the lumber down to about 1-1/2” x 3”, joint where necessary, and glue it up so that the counter is 3” deep and the pieces are running longitudinally along the length of the counter (ie, the edge of the countertop will be face grain, not end grain). Individual boards will probably be random lengths from 1-1/2’ to 4’ but I may mess around with some kind of patterning. The counters will be 24” deep and my planer is a 13” Dewalt. It would be nice to do glue-ups in two sections of 12” but I’m not sure if the planer will be up to the task and suspect I may be better off doing three sections of 8” each. Can someone with more experience comment on this?

I am also interested in the tie-rod technique of butcher block construction, even though I know that it’s not actually necessary for this type of laminated countertop. I’ll be doing the stove island in steel and concrete and I would like to do the butcherblock counters with steel rods driven through the lamination every 16” or so, ending at a decorative triangular piece of steel plate which they would be peened over. However, what I’m reading about butcherblock makes me nervous that in doing this I might run into problems with movement of the wood. Can anyone give me an idea of what kind of seasonal variation I might expect in edge-grain laminated old-growth heartpine? It does seem like fairly stable stuff, but I’m no expert! I live in New Orleans, it’s pretty swampy here.

Lastly, I would love it if someone could point me to more information and/or how-to’s on butcher block. I’m not really a person that learns from videos, I much prefer webpages with photos or stuff in print, but I haven’t had much luck finding how-to’s. I would especially appreciate any more information on steel rod reinforced butcher block, I’ve found almost nothing online but this may be because I don’t know the right terms to search for.

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