direction of butcher block counters

amberm145_gwMarch 3, 2014

Is there a reason that all the pictures I see of butcher block counters have the grain running lengthwise?

I want a butcher block top for my kitchen island. The island is going to be ~3'x8'. It's a solid top with no range or sink in it. I am having trouble finding a stock counter top in the right size, and custom tops probably aren't in the budget. If it's going to be more than stone, it's going to be hard to justify.

I've considered buying pieces and joining them myself. But it would be SO much easier if I could join several 3' sections rather than trying to work with a couple of 8' sections. But then you'd have obvious seams, unless you ran the pieces the short direction across the island.

But I've been unable to find a photo of an island with the grain running in that direction. So I wonder if there's a reason you can't do that?

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End grain is less durable than side grain. So in general it's preferable to minimize total area of end grain.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 5:20PM
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Have you looked at Ikea for butcher block? Extremely reasonably priced. I will probably do it in my own kitchen when the time comes.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 5:30PM
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I have looked at Ikea. They don't have big enough pieces. That's probably where I would have bought the pieces to fit together if there wasn't a reason to piece them together sideways.

Thanks for the answer, GauchoGordo.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 5:38PM
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Not sure I am following, can you just purchase 2 counters from Ikea that are 24 X 96 and take them to a local cabinet shop so that he can rip one of the 24" pieces in half and then glue that 12" piece to the other 24" piece to give you a 3 X 8?

Then he could take the remaining 12 X 96 piece and make up some cutting boards for you?

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 6:12PM
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"End grain is less durable than side grain. So in general it's preferable to minimize total area of end grain."

Actually, the opposite is true:

Here is a link that might be useful: Grain

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 6:37PM
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ajc71, labour is an issue in my city. If I could even find someone willing to do that, the cost would be as much as just having a custom top made. And the custom top would be made in another city and have big shipping costs involved.

If I'm doing it myself, it's a lot easier to work with 2'x3' sections rather than a 2'x8' section or a 1'x8' section. It's also easier to cut the 2'x8' piece widthwise (into 2 2'x3' sections) rather than rip it lengthwise (into 2 1'x8' pieces).

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 6:54PM
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You want the grain running perpendicular to the orientation of the knife when you're cutting. Otherwise the wood will be more prone to splitting and chipping when cutting hard with a knife or chopper. Also wood expands and shrinks across the grain, so ideally you try to minimize the amount of wood movement which means having the grain run lengthwise along the longer dimension.

FYI, the type of counter you describe would more accurately be called "wood counters" since they're side or face grain, whereas true "butcher block" would be end-grain.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 7:01PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Plenty of places sell 96''x36'' tops as standard sizes. Look for someone who is a distributor of Michigan Maple Block.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 7:03PM
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How to define durability for a butcher block counter?

It depends on the presumed failure mode. End grain will ding less, so end grains edges will ding less than side grain edges. But in my experience the failure mode with butcher block counters isn't dings, but rather delaminating due to moisture content variation over time. Since end grains absorb more moisture than face grains, butcher block counters tend to expand/contract and eventually delaminate at the ends first. So to my thinking more end grain = more risk of delamination = less durable.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 7:40PM
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have you looked at Craft Art? they have wood tops in ready made sizes but im not sure if they have that size.

i have black walnut from them and it's waterproof because i used their waterlox finish that they had on their same site.

worth a check! i'll put a link to it so you can see if they have your size : )

Here is a link that might be useful: craft art wood butcher block countertops (DIY)

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 1:04PM
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