Wood, butcher block counter tops?


Greetings All, I am going to need new kitchen counter tops in a few months. I'm not too fond of formica and because I drop things a lot a tile or stone counter top would not be practical. So I'm thinking that a butcher block type of counter top might be the way to go. I know that the softer wood will dent easier and that getting the right kind of finish is very important. I'm a machinist by trade and though I'm comfortable with metal working with wood is kind of a mystery. Thanks for reading, Eric R Snow, E T Precision Machine
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Just keep in mind that unlike metal, wood "moves" as the humidity changes. Most countertops are either made of a solid material that doesn't swell with humidity (e.g. granite, corian, etc.) or are comprised of a surface (i.e. formica, tile, etc.) atop a plywood or particle board substrate, which are both quite immune to humidity changes. If you go with butcher block, you'll likely get significant growth and shrinkage throughout the year.
That's not necessarily a problem, you just need to take it into account when you affix your countertops to the cupboards. You'll need to use connectors which allow movement, like what you'd find connecting your dining room tabletop to its apron and legs.
One nice thing about wood countertops: If you ever get a bad scratch, dent, burn, or whatever, you can always sand and refinish.
Josh
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Thanks for all the replies. The info was just what I needed to decide if wood could make a good counter top. Now I have to see if my wife likes the idea as much as I do. Josh, I had not even thought about expansion and contraction of the wood. The final design will need to allow for this. And I had no idea that Grizzly sold butcher block tops Andy. Thanks Joe for the wide piece info. I'm glad Brooks that you saw the very old top and related how it looked. It would be great if the next owners really like the finished house and the special touches like maple counters. And Ed, the end grain hardness is feature that could maybe be incorporated into part of the counter for a good solid surface to support a cutting board when using a mallet to thin chicken breasts and the like. Finally, thanks to you gfretwell (what's your real name?) for the Grainger suggestion. I order from Grainger several times a year. Cheers, Eric R Snow
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On Mon, 20 Feb 2006 03:15:42 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@whidbey.com (Eric R Snow) wrote:

If you seal this up with poly there won't be that much humidity change in the wood. I only have my maple countertops fastened down with a few drywall screws anyway. I suppose they can be growing and I don't notice.
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Eric R Snow wrote:

I remember seeing a wooden butcher-block countertop in a high-end antique gallery once. It was definitely the sort of place that you'd call a gallery, not a store. They specialized in architectural stuff imported from Italy; much of it was things like stone fireplaces and archways and that sort of thing. But they had this one wooden counter, about six feet long, and something like four hundred years old, made out of butcher block. It had obviously been smoothed off and resurfaced whenever the surface got too cut up to be useful, and after a few hundred years the top was worn down at least a couple of inches in the middle from that. But it still had at least twice that much solid wood to go, so it certainly didn't look "worn out" so much as simply making it clear that it had been around since forever and was going to keep being around for a good long time.
- Brooks
--
The "bmoses-nospam" address is valid; no unmunging needed.

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I've sort of considered the same thing - check out grizzly.com and search for "solid maple" - they have a variety of sizes of 1 3/4" thick maple butcherblock bench/table/counter tops. Most of them work out to $11-12/sq foot - less than most countertop surfaces. Probably cheaper than you could build one yourself. Shipping costs add a good chunk, but if you live near WA, MO, or PA, you could pick it up, and see their showroom of wood- and metal-working tools. Hope this helps, Andy
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Andy wrote:

http://www.hardwood-lumber.com/butcherblock-prices.html They carry 14" to 48" sections from 3-10 feet long, but the prices are quite a bit higher. Joe
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On Mon, 13 Feb 2006 04:28:16 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@whidbey.com (Eric R Snow) wrote:

polyurethane coated. I am very happy several years later. I made one and bought one. I say buy one, it's cheaper. Edsal makes a "workbench top" sold through Grainger that sells cheaper than I could buy the wood.
http://www.grainger.com/Grainger/wwg/itemDetailsRender.shtml?xi=xi&ItemId11573701
I wiped it down with mineral spirits to get the oil off and started coating with thinned poly, several coats later I had a very tough counter top.
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I built two 2-3/4" thick true butcher block rock maple countetops joined in an "L" configuration. ("True" meaning end-grain up.)
It is a lot of work--almost 700 individual blocks in mine--and heavy. Buying would probably be preferable, but I've not seen endgrain tops for sale other than cutting-board size.
It is just about impossible to dent the endgrain maple, but it will scorch and stain.
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