Help with a butcher block top - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 11-06-2018, 08:51 AM Thread Starter
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Help with a butcher block top

Hello all,

I want to build a 4ft by 6ft butcher block countertop. I know this is possible. Other people have done it. What I don't know is how. I have a 16in plainer and access to an 8 inch jointer but none will really suffice. I talked this through with someone and he pointed out that most of those would require a 4 ft plainer to get everything level. Is it possible to do it in 3 parts and glue it up at the end? What should I be very careful of? Is there a better way of doing it? Is this an item that is just worth buying from a professional store while I build out the base?

Thanks!
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post #2 of 8 Old 11-06-2018, 09:33 AM
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Can we assume this is not an end-grain cutting board counter top, but a edge or face glued counter top?

If so, itís always easier to glue up in sections and assemble the sections together at the end. If you glue up sections then you can plane the sections, and only have two or three glue joints to carefully assemble together. With enough care only minor sanding would be required to finish the top.


In woodworking there is always more then one way to accomplish something.
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post #3 of 8 Old 11-07-2018, 12:38 PM Thread Starter
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I was thinking about a really nice end grain cutting board style top. Having said that, it will probably not be feasible just due to costs but I also don't think it would change the problem too much. The problem is, of course, that I can't smooth the entire surface at one go and will have to do it in sections. I can set the height of sections I will probably need 3 or 4 sections. The only thing I could think of was to very carefully glue each of the sections together, which seems very hard and error-prone.

I also figured that I would be practicing on pine to get the process down before doing it on anything even moderately expensive.

Does it make sense to attempt to overlap some of the sections? Like, if I only wanted it 2 inches thick, set a router bit on a table to shave off 1-inch lips? If I were to go that route, how I could squeeze the top and bottom portions of the top in glue up given that they would probably be 16 inches in the middle? I realize that this would mean getting a 46 inch top rather than a 48 inch, but life will continue. Alternatively, I could do it using 14-inch sections and using 4 of them. I don't think that would make clamping the middle any easier but it might? Does it? What would I use?

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post #4 of 8 Old 11-07-2018, 01:58 PM
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I have just finished a 30"x38"x4" hard maple end grain butcher block top and a 120"x42"x1.75" side grain breadboard white oak countertop. For the first, I did the initial glue ups and then crosscuts and used 3 biscuit joints between each piece to reduce offsets and minimize final sanding, adding several sections at a time. The second one I did using a floating tenon type spline between each board, added sequentially. By using the router jig offset from corresponding sides with a relatively tight spline by planing to fit, was able to have increased strength and minimize usual board related drift when joining 10 foot pieces....... and then I put it in the back of my truck and took it to Hardware Lumber here in Dallas and for quite minimal fee since I buy my wood there, they ran it through their 42 inch capacity sander for me, but the the fit was close enough I could have done it with careful belt sander followed by half sheet sander.
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post #5 of 8 Old 11-07-2018, 02:44 PM Thread Starter
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Oh I see! A spline would be perfect. In this case, my steps would be:

1. cut the sections of the wood I want (end grain, butcher block, etc.)
2. plain each section to an even height and square to size.
3a. spline each section using a fixed jig/sled on the router table OR
3b. build out a jig for biscuit cuts going the entire length of each section
4. glue up and everything should be level
5. sand smooth and finish.

In this case, would investing in the Festool domino jointer make sense or could I get by with the spline? OH! I could even use 2 inches of plywood down the entire cut to get really strong spline joins. Like, I would router out 1/2 inch cuts down the lengths of the boards less 1/2 inch or 1 inch on each end, on the table, make the cuts 1 inch deep, cut out plywood sections for glue up, and never even worry about needing downward pressure on the sections!

That is the solution! Brilliant! Thank you so much Aaron!
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post #6 of 8 Old 11-08-2018, 11:24 AM
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I will try to add some photos. Not sure why they are rotated. I used the M-Power mortise and fluting attachment and a 5/8 inch router bit ensuring that the pathway utilized the corresponding faces to account for any micro offset in centering and stopped before the end and hand chiseled the very end of mortise. I made the spline from hard maple to give tensile strength to the joinery and it kept the 10 foot boards together nicely. I haven't used the Festool myself, but for simple biscuit joinery my Porter Cable is fine and the biscuits easily available at HD or Lowes and for bigger joins I am happy to build my own splines and hold on to the cash and shelf space. Terry is right though, a lot of ways to the top of the mountain.
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post #7 of 8 Old 12-01-2018, 04:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bholland View Post
Hello all,

I want to build a 4ft by 6ft butcher block countertop. I know this is possible. Other people have done it. What I don't know is how. I have a 16in plainer and access to an 8 inch jointer but none will really suffice. I talked this through with someone and he pointed out that most of those would require a 4 ft plainer to get everything level. Is it possible to do it in 3 parts and glue it up at the end? What should I be very careful of? Is there a better way of doing it? Is this an item that is just worth buying from a professional store while I build out the base?

Thanks!
Give you a ideal on what needs to be done.


Marlin
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post #8 of 8 Old 12-01-2018, 07:22 PM
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Interesting as I have a ton of pecan to make into a table top. FWIW, I was in a Woodcraft store and saw a fellow finishing a maple countertop for a professional chef. The fellow had the top all glued up and was very carefully planing the surface, lightly running his fingertips over the surface and planing again if necessary. Would have loved to seen the finished top. Had a built-in backslash and cutout for the sink.

A diamond is how coal reacts under pressure.
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