The feet aren't just aesthetic, in this case they were necessary. Unfortunately I chose to make this butcher block during a period of rapid weather change in San Francisco. In just one week the weather changed from cold, dry and wintery weather to warm, somewhat humid, spring weather - with several days of heavy rain thrown in for good measure.
I can only assume all these atmospheric hijinks wreaked havoc with this project. I started out with what seemed like very straight lumber, but after it was cut and glued, to my dismay the entire butcher block curled up like a potato chip (okay, slight exaggeration - but that's how it felt). The opposite corners on both sides of the board were twisted between 1/16" - 1/8" high, making the board rock from side to side.
With some serious hand-planing and sanding, I was able to get the board mostly flat, but I was worried it might not stay that way forever - especially since the customer will be taking it home to a very different climate. By adding some adjustable feet, I hope to future-proof this butcher block, allowing each foot to be adjusted to compensate for any future (hopefully small) warping.
Step 1: Why make feet for a butcher block?
- Feet are nice, and add a whole new design element to a cutting board. They can be simple and minimal (like mine), or they can be ornate, using interesting shapes or carvings. This looks especially good on cutting boards that are meant to sit out on the counter instead of being put away between uses.
- Sometimes a bit of moisture in the kitchen is unavoidable. But when one side of a cutting board (the top) is allowed to dry, while the other side (the bottom) absorbs moisture, it can be a recipe for warping. Feet help solve this problem by allowing air to circulate around the entire board, and lifting it above potentially wet countertops.
- If you have a slippery countertop, rubber feet can help grip the surface and keep the cutting board from moving.
- Whenever the seasons change, the humidity rises or falls, or you move to a new climate - the wood in a butcher block can shrink and expand, slightly changing its shape. If your cutting board develops this type of defect (like mine) adjustable feet can help save the board.
There are purpose-built leveling feet available, used for furniture, appliances and other househole objects. However I couldn't find any such hardware at my local hardware store, so I just browsed the aisles and looked for parts I could hack together. For anyone else making similar feet, there are good parts available online - look for leveling feet or anti-skid furniture legs. And while I decided to keep my legs simple, I'm sure there are lots of interesting designs out there.