Butcher Block Counter Top




Project Overview:
This project requires basic woodworking skills and access to woodworking machines. Woodworking machines have sharp cutting edges and are NOT forgiving. You should be properly trained  in the use of these machines.

A step-by-step PDF document is attached to guide you through the process of making this project.

This project details the steps involved in making an end grain butcher block counter top.  The finished size of the counter top
26 1/2” wide and 37 ½” long. It is intended as a counter top for a kitchen island.

Producing flat and square board surfaces with parallel edges is the key to a successful project. The production process is time consuming and involves the repetition of many steps including:
glue-ups (glue provides the bond between all the joints. There are no mechanical fasteners).
flattening the boards
creating parallel surfaces.

The wood used in this project is hard maple, its grain is tight enough to limit the absorption of fluid, but not so tight that it will affect the stability of the product itself and cause cracks. Use hard maple that is knot free.

The hard maple end grain butcher block is much gentler on the knife’s cutting edge because, instead of grinding against the wood fibers, the blade will actually “squeeze” between them, thus wearing out much slower. For the same reason, the top itself wears out at a slower rate than a conventional edge-grain cutting board and does not show cut marks like an edge-grain cutting board.

After an initial seasoning with mineral oil, adding occasional applications will ensure a long life for the top.

Materials Needed:
Approximately 30 linear feet of hard maple.  2” thick and 6” to 8” wide.
Titebond 3 glue
150 grit sandpaper
Mineral oil

Tools & Equipment Needed:
8” jointer
Hand plane (preferably a low angle jointer plane).
16” flat bed drum sander (3”  or 4” belt sander is an alternative).
Table saw with a cross cut sled and a very sharp blade.
Bar clamps of various lengths.
Gluing jigs.

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    22 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Actually, you can sterilize it with baby-bottle sterilizer or grapefruit seed extract (I prefer the latter). Both are gentle and food-safe, the first for babies and the second to the point where people add it to their water if they doubt its cleanliness.

    And a good vinegar wash will take care of most smells.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Williewolf--Great job. looks fantastic. I make a lot of wood cutting boards in class (I'm a woodshop teacher) and this is one of the best I've seen.
    One easy suggestion--Mix a little beeswax with the mineral oil and heat until melted. Then pour on the wood and let it soak in as you described. The wax gives a lot more protection than plain oil.
    Beautiful job!!

    Your tooling is beautiful! that countertop looks like one that you would need to have custom made by a specialist. I have made some recycled cutting boards from Guitar bodies... this instructable helped a great deal, THANK YOU!

    broken board

    7 years ago on Introduction

    I’ve never been so envious of anyone in my life
    What a fantastic job
    Nice tools as well


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Just so everyone knows:
    1) wood is NOT impervious to liquids, therefore it can and will absorb fluids from whatever you cut on it. Cut marks will absorb even more

    2) the degree of penetration of fluids is predicated on the grain of the wood. select VERY tight grained/fine grained maple. Birch might also work, but not near as nice in terms of color

    3) use ONLY end grain UP, as Willie stated. Using it flat will disappoint rather quickly

    4) do a Good... NO, Great job of glue up. (see my remarks re: knife marks)

    5) NEVER let liquids lay on the wood. Always wipe up ASAP

    6) Although I Never used oil when I was a meatcutter, mineral oil appears to work well, and there are other options. MAKE SURE WHATEVER YOU USE IS FOOD GRADE!

    7) If the top starts to develop cracks or you have a knife mark that is deep, consider getting the top Sanded in a large drum sander by a Pro.... worth the money.

    8) Wood can NEVER be sterilized. Do NOT use bleach or other sterilents, they will taint your top. As will aromatic products like Onions, Garlic, etc....

    9) Wood is no longer approved for food prep, as in a meat shop, but literally THOUSANDS are still in use. BUT EVERY DAY they get scrubbed clean, dryed, then SANDED with a scraping brush! in 18months, I took off over 4 inches of a 3x4ft Maple block (end grain) that we used Every day in a Grocery store

    10) Build it as per Willies instructions, take special care of it, and enjoy it for YEARS. I have seen properly cared for Butcher Blocks that are well over 100 years old and still in use! (although there is not much remaining of them) A well made, and cared for Block is a thing of beauty, and a perfect addition to ANY kitchen! If you can find dark/ight contrasting wood, even better.

    Hope I didn't offend anyone with my comments.

    3 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Appreciate your excellent comments.

    Thanks for adding more details. Well worth it.

    Happy New Year.



    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    thanks Willie

    Happy New Year to you!

    I used those cutting boards but never built one.

    I sure do appreciate how a well built one can add to the beauty of a kitchen!

    keep up the good work


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Mineral Oil is actually my go-to oil when I'm making a cutting board. Just heat the mineral oil up in a pan on low/medium heat and then wipe that all over the cutting board / butcher block. Let it soak in for 30 minutes or so and wipe it down again with more hot mineral oil. Let it soak in over-night then finally wipe it down with clean paper towels.

    I advise anyone I give a cutting board to wipe it down once a month with mineral oil (not hot) and once a year treat it with hot mineral oil. It's not perfect but it works extremely well in my opinion for wooden cutting boards / butcher blocks.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    My apologies for having you download the PDF but that was the best and most efficient way for me to provide the detailed information required to produce this piece.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    considering how much detail he did in his instruction? the instructable would be too damn big. download it and see for yourself. there's over 12 pages of it im sure.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Beautiful work! I look forward to reading the PDF. How much should I expect to pay for 30 LF of hard maple?

    1 reply

    Depending on where you live you will pay around $3.50 a board foot (hardwoods are sold in board feet: 12" x 12" by 1" thick".

    This butcher block top is made from 2" thick wood, so each square foot is actually 2 board feet. The top is a little less than 13 square feet, that would be 26 board feet. (top size 26 1/2" x 37").

    Bottom line, there is about $100 of hard maple in the finished product. Add another 10% in waste.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    You are a craftsman. You have caught every detail. Thank you.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I had a friend who made butcher block cutting boards, I can well recall all the cutting and sanding he did to make 100's of perfectly exact pieces in different woods, then gluing and clamping, sanding and gluing and clamping then sanding. The finished pieces were gorgeous and well worth the price. There is NO WAY I have the patience or the attention span to spend that much time on a project. More power to you for creating such a beautiful piece and thank you for sharing