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.

Furniture Challenge

Finalist in the
Furniture Challenge