Hey, my parents have had a butcher block on their back porch for a
while the top is all uneven. It is quite large and weighs probably 350
pounds or more. I am wondering what type of plane would be best to
even out the top, I highly doubt any local places even have band saws
that large, let alone allowing me to use it. The dimensions on it are
36"x30" and its about 16 inches thick. any response would be
It might be possible to build a frame to support a router that can
pass back and forth over the top. This would be influenced by how
out of level the top is. It will be very abusive to the router
bit(s) depending on how deep you make each pass. 1/2" shank bits,
probably 3/4" diameter.
Lots of passes, but it goes fairly quickly. Once you are flat,
take over with a belt sander.
Keep the whole world singing . . . .
DanG (remove the sevens)
For what it's worth: My wife had a cutting board, 24x36" that was
well cut up. nasty looking, and needed either a fix, or a replacement.
I took my plane and went to work. The plane was sharp enough to remove
hairs, and it just ate thru the oil soaked wood. I took a thin cut,
and after about an hours work, it looked great! I cleaned up the
sides, and reoiled it with olive oil and was properly rewarded for my
You might try this before you go exotic. And it doesn't need to be
as flat as your table saw... it's a cutting board! If it looks OK,
then it is.
Hope this helps.
I leveled mine with a power hand planer. It wasn't deeply uneven, just a
little wavy and very dried out - it wasn't well cared for by its
previous owner. But a half hour's planing and lots of mineral oil later,
it looks and works great.
I have seen some such blocks that have been used in butcher shops for
generations that are so deeply dished that any attempt to level them out
would basically remove the upper 1/3 of the block. I personally would
not bother trying to level something like that because I know I would
not be pleased by the stunted look of the result.
Believe it or not this is exactly what a block plane was designed to do.
Its low blade angle severs the end grain of a butcher block quite nicely.
However you have a large block and if it's too uneven a block plane
would take an eternity to get the job done. A low angle jack plane
would be faster. Lee Valley makes a nice one.
If the top is really uneven then the router or belt sander approach would
probably be a better way to go.
And if it's really really bad then consider removing the peaks with a chain
saw or an angle grinder with a carving blade before using the router/sander.
Be aware that using a plane after using any kind of sander could wreak
havoc with the planes blade due to sanding grit left in the wood.
This has been the claim for years but there never has been any confirmation
other than "that's what I always heard". I think it much more likely that
the term "block" in block plane was referring to block of wood, as in small
piece or blocking in as in final fitting. Traditionally, planes made for
producing a flat surface have been very long. There is a good reason for
that. The diminutive size of a block plane goes completely against that. If
a plane was produced specially for flattening butcher blocks, why would it
be one that was equivalent to waxing a car with a Crayon? It would more
likely be the size of a #7 or #8 (which is likely what was used). I think
the block plane was intended to be used just the way most on this newsgroup
use them, for smoothing, trimming and fitting.
The following is from "Patrick's Blood and Gore"
'Stanley, in their marketing propaganda, claimed that "A Block Plane was
first made to meet the demand for a Plane which could be easily held in
one hand while planing across the grain, particularly the ends of
boards, etc. This latter work many Carpenters call 'Blocking in', hence
the name 'Block' Plane." This, if it is to be believed, dispells the
myth that block planes are so named because they were first used on
That said, there are fairly large "block planes" (Stanley's #62 or
#64for instance). Also, if (like many people) you consider any bevel-up
plane to be a "block plane", then Veritas and Lie-Nielsen make some big
ones as well, including jointers.
> Hey, my parents have had a butcher block on their back porch for a
> while the top is all uneven. It is quite large and weighs probably 350
> pounds or more.
Sounds like it is time for a heavy duty 3x21 belt sander equipped with
some 24 grit belts.
Use a 48" long straight edge as a fairing batten to check your progress.
Probably take a week end and a case of cold ones.
Use proper safety gear, especially a decent respirator.
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