how to joint 2 butcher block?

PoorOwnerOctober 9, 2008

How can I laminate two butcher blocks to make a bigger one? The strength isn't a big issue because they will be fastened to the cabinet from underneath.

What glue do you recommend? When I clamp it down it will squeeze the glue out, I need to clean it up but I want to apply a finish so I don't want glue residue to be visible.

In shop class we had the luxary of planing the laminated boards afterwards but it's not an option here, maybe some sanding in the grove will remove most of the glue residue so it would not stand out when finish is applied? (likely I will be using waterLox)

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It's not clear to me whether you're gluing one on top of the other to make the block thicker, which is what's usually meant by the term "laminating," or if you want to glue them together edge-to-edge to make a larger surface. Assuming the latter, I would use a water-resistant carpenters' glue like Titebond II. After it dries, you can clean up the squeezeout with sandpaper and/or a cabinet scraper. The two edges are unlikely to align perfectly during the glueup, so you'll be scraping and/or sanding anyhow.

When you attach it to the cabinet, be sure to do so in such a way that it can expand and contract a little across the grain without doing damage.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 8:28AM
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Hi, I am joining 2 25" wide boards to cover the kitchen island.

Thanks, so I leave the squeeze and clean up after it sets up, don't wipe it off when the glue is wet? Does the glue you mentioned dries very clear?

Can you explain the last part about the expansion, do I want to slot the cabinet screw holes on the bottom of one of the piece so that it can move?

By across the grain meaning perpendicular to the end grain?

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 1:09PM
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You can wipe off most of glue while it's wet if you like. Use a slightly damp sponge, but don't flood the area with a lot of water or you'll weaken the joint. The glue I mentioned dries yellow, but if your glue line is tight then it will be invisible. If your glue line is not tight then you shouldn't expect the bond to hold very well.

I'm not sure what 'perpendicular to the end grain' means, so I'll just say that a board changes width, but stays the same length.

You'll probably be screwing up through the top of the cabinet and into the butcherblock, so make some of the holes in the cabinet top oversize. A plank 50" wide could easily be 3/8" wider during the most humid part of the year than it is during the driest part. If you use normal-sized holes at the middle of the island (close to your glue joint) and make the holes towards the front and back of the island oversize (use a washer to keep the screw from pulling through the cabinet) and don't overtighten those outermost screws, you should be fine.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 2:13PM
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If the butcher block has the end grain facing up, then it'll want to expand in both length and width. So washers and oversized holes would probably be good. Applying finish to all sides after the glue has dried etc. will help slow moisture uptake and movement.

If you have access to a biscuit joiner, biscuits will help with alignment during glue up. (As an added plus, there's a mechanical connection, too.) Failing that, clamping blocks that bridge the gap (but don't touch the glue) can squeeze the two surfaces close. (I think that was a tip in a very recent fine woodworking.)

Personally, I don't wipe off the glue squeezeout right away. I'll wait until it's about 8 hours old (Titebond II) and then knock off the congealed glue with a scraper. That's just preference...

Make sure you don't have any finish on the edges you're gluing. That'll mess up the glue.

And I'd try and get a screw or two in on an angle to keep the top together if the glue fails.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 5:53PM
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hi, I am doing pretty much the same thing and have several questions also. I am putting 3 boards together that are 27" long and 8.5 inches wide. They are 1.5" thick. I had planned on using a biscuit joiner to put the boards together. what is the best way to do this? glue 2 boards and clamp them, then wait a few days and add the last board? or do them all at once and clamp them all down? I will use the glue that was mentioned before. I am planning on sanding and adding waterlox after I join the boards. I am confused on how to add to my counter. It is going over my dishwasher, so I put a pice of 1/2" plywood over the dishwasher. I plan on screwing the butcher block into the plywood from underneath. I understand the wood will expand and contract, but I dont understand oversized holes. can someone explain this please? thanks in advance!


    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 9:40PM
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Oversized holes are pretty simple. I'd do one regular screw at the back, close to the side that shouldn't move. For the rest of them, drill 1/2" holes in the plywood, use a good sized washer on the screws, and screw into the block approximately in the middle of that 1/2" hole.

Especially in a dishwasher setting, apply some kind of a primer to the plywood (even in the 1/2" holes, if you want to be really thorough).

Glue your boards up all in one shot. (The glue isn't going to set so quickly that you'll have a problem.) When you've done all your biscuit cutting, dry fit the whole thing with biscuits and draw a big triangle on one side. That'll help you align and make sure you didn't flip anything around when gluing.

Your phrase "clamp them all down" is a little unnerving... you should be clamping across. Alternate clamps top and bottom to prevent bowing.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 7:11AM
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Thanks for the explanation! the lightbulb just went off after you described it. I would have never figured that out without your help. ok, i will glue all at one time. Yea I realized later that I shouldn't have said "clamp down". I meant clamp together. Good tip on the alternating top and bottom clamps, I wouldn't have thought of that either! Thanks for the help! It is great to know there is a forum around where you can go and get awesome advice when your new at stuff!


    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 2:55PM
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If you're really concerned with glue squeezeout, before you edge glue the two sections together run a length of blue painters tape along the top edge of each board.

Any squeezeout will end up on the painters tape and not the wood.

As already mentioned, biscuits will help and Titebond II is fine.

If the adjacent boards are quartersawn and vertical grain, great. If flat sawn, any overall cupping of the top can be minimized by alternating the grain of adjacent planks, one up, the next down, the next up, etc. In other words, when looking at the grain on the end of the board, on one board the grain is "smiling", on the next it's "frowning", then smiling, etc.

Before you screw down the countertop, finish the bottom like you're finishing the top. If you waterlox the top, waterlox the bottom. It'll stabilize it and minimize unequalized wood movement.


    Bookmark   October 14, 2008 at 1:41PM
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Will this biscuit jointer do the job?
It's a little one

Here is a link that might be useful: craftsman detail biscuit jointer

    Bookmark   November 25, 2008 at 1:46PM
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Save your money. If this is for only one job, I'd forget the biscuit joiner or have someone cut the joints for you. If you have a table saw, you can accomplish the same with a spline joint. But neither is necessary.

I'm of the camp of as much glue as necessary but as little as possible. What I am looking for is little sweat beads of glue at the joint. I let it gel up then peel off with a sharp chisel.

But I would warn you that two 25" wide boards is likely to cause you cupping and warping problems.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2008 at 8:19PM
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What about 25" wide + 12" which is the width I am looking for? Length is 45" only. Is it really that unstable?

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 1:31AM
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If you are using two smaller cutting boards they usualy have a beveled edge around the perimeter. If thats the case youll need to have them run through a good table saw to get rid of the bevel. I would not do it withour biscuits and watch when you clamp you want tight but not so tight you crush the wood with the clamps. You should put some scraps between the clamps.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 7:35PM
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Use the same fasteners used to join particle board for kitchen counters.
They can be cut into the underside of the counter and use nuts and threaded shafts to pull the joint together.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2008 at 7:54PM
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