Butcher Block Hardwood Table





Introduction: Butcher Block Hardwood Table

The idea for the table came only after I had gotten the wood which was given to my father by a friend as scrap wood he thought should be burnt. My dad realized the most of it was quality hardwood that should be repurposed for something more than kindling. So the wood was free, with all the other things I purchased for the table I spent around $80… yes, I got lucky!

I laid out what I thought the table should look like in Google Sketchup (See attached file). I wanted a butcher block style table, using a random pattern of types of wood.  The final size ended up being 42”x42”… looking back I should have went for an even 4’x4’ but it was plenty of sanding as it was. The legs are 1”x4”’s of oak glued in an “L” shape to improve stability. I also added a thin 1”x4” of aspen to the inside, since I wanted a lighter colored wood to offset the oak, as a skirt that also adds a little rigidity.

The legs are 30” high which brings the overall table height to about 31 ½”. The project took about 60 hours to complete, the majority of that time was spent sanding!

Corner Brackets

Pipe Clamps
Table Saw
Circular Saw
Belt Sander
Tape Measure
Drill/Bits (for pilot holes on for the leg brackets)

1. Cutting the wood
2. Gluing the pieces
3. Sand/Plane
4. Attach legs
5. Polyurethane

Step 1: Cut the Wood

I set my table saw to a width of a little over 1 ½” and cut the raw boards into strips that would all be the same height when laid out vertically. I didn’t worry about how long the strips would be because I wanted a random pattern, so the most important part was just to make sure the sides of the boards were square. Then I arranged them on a makeshift particle board workbench making sure to separate similar colors of wood. After I had them arranged in a way, I used 3 pipe clamps to start gluing the boards together.

Step 2: Gluing the Pieces

Using three pipe clams and started gluing and clamping. I could only do about 5 or 6 rows at a time to make sure the boards would stay level (I should have taken more time to do that, it would have saved me a ton of time while sanding) the process was simple, yet time consuming. After I had glued each piece on top of another the table was heavy, very heavy. I recommend having two people there at all times, in case you need to move the glued wood top, you’ll want to have a friend close by.

The process: glue a few pieces, clamp, and then wait… repeat until finished.

Step 3: Sanding

The first step was to cut the rough edges from the sides of the table, I used a circular saw and did my best to keep it square. Not much to say after its cut, start with a hand plane or chisel to remove any glue that was squeezed out during the clamping. Then hit it with the belt sander until you can’t feel your arms… slowly work down to finer sandpaper as desired. I started at 60grit and finished with 240.

Step 4: Attaching the Legs

If you have enough clamps, glue the legs when you glue the table top to save time. The legs were cut out of long pieces of oak 1x4ish pieces to a length of 30”, and then glued on top of each other at a 90 degree angle. A corner brace was screwed onto the top which was used to attach the legs to the table. After the legs were attached, because of the weight of the table, I added 1”x4” pieces of aspen to the inside of the legs. The aspen skirt gave it a finished look and added more support.

Step 5: Polyurethane

After the table was finished and sanded I covered the whole thing in about 8 coats of polyurethane. I didn’t want to add any color with stain because the natural colors of the wood were enough to give it the look I was going for. I’m sure you could stain each individual strip of wood if you were using the same type of wood for the entire table, but for me the clear coat was enough. Between each coat I did a light hand sanding with a very fine sandpaper to keep the table top very smooth.

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    You can use WoodPrix, it has the best handbooks and ready instructions. You can learn much from them and make it yourself.

    Check WoodPrix handbook if you want to make it cheaper and better.

    Im using Wood Prix instructions to make it and I do it already :)

    I am sure you'll learn how to make it if you'll read Wood Prix from cover to cover :)

    I'm currently using pallets to make a very similar dining table

    2 replies

    you better seal up that pallet wood with a heavy poly, despite all the "pallet" inspired furniture online lately, pallets are treated with a lot toxic materials including copper dust to keep the wood from rotting while sitting outside in the weather. ITs not good to have inside your house as if not well ventilated, like a warehouse, you can become very sick from that stuff... thats why pallet supply places are open air lots with all the pallets stacked outside.

    I used a heavy poly on the table to seal it and it worked really well until I moved the table from oregon to utah where it dried out has has started forming cracks

    you did a really nice work. the price for that table in the market might be more than 500$

    That's beautiful. very modern...excellent use of scrap material. maybe try a router planing sled jig next time for flattening the surface. I've seen it employed a lot in end grain cutting boards where a planer can't be used.

    Would it be a good idea to use biscuits or rods to secure all the wood pieces together or would it be overkill? (I was just wondering because I wanted to make a small workbench with the same idea.)

    Also nice job with your project by the way!

    I love working with reclaimed wood, It just has so much more character. Not to mention its great for the environment.

    Great job! I've often wanted to do this, but thought I would need a jointer to get the sides of the pieces square enough to mate up well. Glad to see it works without it. Just may have to tackle one now. Guess now that you are done all those hours of sanding you can get back to reading all those newspapers gathering on your porch, eh...lol.

    4 replies

    Don't get me started on those papers. i live in a house divided into three separate apartments, each one gets delivered a paper to my porch 6 days a week. That's a lot of paper, and NOBODY actually reads them. I've tried to get them to stop delivering them but they just keep dropping off 3 everyday... what a waste.

    Ben.. wrap the papers up, and address them to whoever sent them.. they will need to pay the default postage, and ensure that they cancel the subscriptions, or order, or whatever non-system they have.

    Done. Thank you!

    Really! Wow. a waste indeed, even if they are recycled. You should bag them all up unremoved from their plastic wrappers and dump them on the subscription manager's desk.

    How heavy was your table after it was all finished?

    1 reply

    Its terribly heavy. Its a two person job to move it even a little bit. But that defiantly makes it feel solid!

    good thinking with the scrap wood. this is going to be my next project. Hats off!

    Beautiful table, but I have 1 question: how did you ensure that all the wood was exactly the same thickness and flat (unwarped)? Did you use a jointer and/or planer or some other method?

    1 reply

    i didn't use anything besides a table saw, I cut each board down to the same width. Looking back I wish i had a planer to use but I didn't. Some of the wood that was too warped was discarded.