Someone I know recently commisioned a cutting board from me - as described in my earlier instructable how to make an end grain cutting board. But instead of making a normal size cutting board, they wanted a full-on butcher block, and I decided that instead of just being a solid block, it needed some feet. I'm going to show you how I made a set of individually adjustable feet for this butcher block.

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?

Many people prefer to leave cutting boards reversible, allowing them to use both sides. But there are several good reasons to add feet in certain situations.
  • 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.
If you are making a long-grain (face or edge grain) cutting board as opposed to my end-grain cutting board, all the advice I just gave is even more important. Long grain boards are even more prone to wood expansion and warping from moisture.

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.
First off, I just wanted to say beautiful cutting board! what woods did you use? walnut and ash? I like the idea of the legs as a design consideration. If I end up making mine I was thinking of extending some of the blocks that make up the corners, to become the legs. I suppose what i'm saying, is that since it's endgrain, the corners could be cut longer to accommodate leg height. <br> <br>Also I could be wrong, but I feel like alot of your points are more applicable to long grain cutting boards, and or wooden slab cutting boards. End grain cutting boards are really hearty and don't warp as easily as other types. So those making long-grain cutting boards---head his advise it will help <br> <br>
Thank you, I used walnut, maple and purple-heart. And I definitely like your idea about extending the corner blocks to make the legs - I would probably do something like that if I had planned to make the legs from the start.<br> <br> I definitely agree, all my warnings are more important for long grain than end grain, but then again, the whole reason I made these legs for this board is that it already warped once. I got it all flattened, but wanted some extra insurance against future problems.<br> <br> I've made over a dozen of these, and never had any problems - they were all rock solid after gluing and planing. But this time I glued it up one day, and everything seemed alright, but I came back the next day and the whole thing was twisted. I don't know why it happened exactly, but there it is.<br> <br> Under the right conditions end grain can bend even more dramatically - here's a guy who <a href="http://lumberjocks.com/projects/63804" rel="nofollow">left his brand new cutting board out in the rain</a>.

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Bio: I'm a long time tinkerer and lover of Instructables, but recently I joined Techshop in San Francisco, and decided to really get creative. Right ... More »
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