End Grain Kitchen Island

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Project by Smithclan posted 01-11-2011 09:24 PM 4158 views 23 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Sometime in November, my wife decided she wanted a kitchen island for Christmas. Not just any island, but a real butcher block top island. Being the good husband I am, after seeing the prices of a few John Boos products, I proclaimed that I could build it, I would just need to buy a few tools ( I only owned a couple of sanders and a chop saw). In my head it still seamed like a good deal, she gets an island, and I get more tools, win-win, right? That seems like so long ago. Actually, after reading lumberjocks forum through and through, gettting ideas and advice from everywhere, i purchased a table saw, joiner and surface planer used, bought rough sawn lumber from a local supplier, and got started. Three weeks and many late nights later, here is the finished product. The top is northern hard maple, 30”x48”x5” consisting of appr. 1.9” blocks. The base is poplar with a few maple accents. The onlay, towel racks (drawer pulls), and feet were puchased (maybe a lathe in the near future). I think i am addicted to tools! After the island was completed, she wanted a stool, so I made her the maple seated saddle stool. The buther blocks are from excess maple from the top construction, I over estimated a bit. The pie is a pot pie, one of my many rewards for finishing the project. Finish on the top is a pure mineral oil soaking with a top coat of Howard block conditioner. The paint is Behr flat latex with an clear acrylic top coat. My finishing skills are lacking, but maybe with a new HVLP sprayer they will improve?

15 comments so far

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4171 days

#1 posted 01-11-2011 09:43 PM

hey now that´s what I call a butcher block
with a top thats thick enoff for chopping with a meat axe

well done

thank´s for sharing

View swirt's profile (online now)


6109 posts in 4027 days

#2 posted 01-11-2011 09:47 PM

That came out great. Nice work and good job building in the tool requirements into the deal.

-- Galootish log blog,

View Canadian Woodworks's profile

Canadian Woodworks

702 posts in 4125 days

#3 posted 01-11-2011 10:19 PM

That’s the geterdone attitude I like!

-- Paul Lemiski, Ontario Canada, Custom Wooden Rocking chairs and tables

View tyka's profile


142 posts in 3748 days

#4 posted 01-11-2011 10:48 PM

Very nice work and so much gluing. You deserve more tools.

-- Paul, Plantagenet, Ontario

View ElmoSr's profile


243 posts in 4082 days

#5 posted 01-11-2011 11:24 PM

gotta make this for my executive chef son for his home——very good job—-maybe I will get a pie out of the deal too,,,,,,,,,LOL

-- ElmoSr,Ga. Life is Hard by the Yard,,,But a Cinch by the Inch

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1625 posts in 4620 days

#6 posted 01-12-2011 02:34 AM

NICE! Favorites for this one, hope to make one some day. The painted base is a nice touch.

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

View Smithclan's profile


10 posts in 3749 days

#7 posted 01-12-2011 04:10 AM

Thanks guys for the kind words, I am proud of it. The joinery for the base was loose tenon, I made DAVID LEHMAN’s (Fine woodworking Mag) self centering jig for using a plunge router to cut the mortises. Of course the glue up of the top was fun abd exciting! Thanks again for the comments.

View ic3ss's profile


399 posts in 3832 days

#8 posted 01-12-2011 06:42 AM

Sweet butcher block! I make a kitchen cart out of oak a while back, top is about 2.5” thick, but I didn’t use end grain for the top and I’ve regretted it ever since.

-- "I am endeavoring, ma'am, to construct a mnemonic memory circuit using stone knives and bear skins."

View Hayes1212's profile


12 posts in 3744 days

#9 posted 01-15-2011 07:58 PM

This is beautiful. Great job!

View Scott10's profile


28 posts in 4097 days

#10 posted 01-20-2011 04:46 AM

Awesome work. I am currently working on nearly the same thing for the same reasons, another Boos knock off though I’m using walnut rather than cherry.

Mine will be only 21”x31.5” with a 4” thick top. I have all my 21”x1.5×4 strips (black walnut) all glued and cut. Any advice for gluing them together. I’m a little worried that I won’t get enough clamping pressure across all 21×32. I have 4 bessey 48” and 4 – 3/4” steel bar clamps. Using cauls on both sides, will this be enough?


-- Scott

View Smithclan's profile


10 posts in 3749 days

#11 posted 01-20-2011 05:42 AM

Scott, This was my first block. First project at all actually. I was told by a few local guys I was being a bit ambitious. That and the fact my wife really wanted it was all the encouragement I needed (tell me I cant do something and I will show you you’re wrong). After alot of reading on sites like this one, and an inventory of my clamping capabillities, I decided to break it up into three sections. The finished block was to be 30 inches wide and 48 inches in length. I wanted my blocks to be 2” square, but I used all 8/4 rough lumber and after milling I had to settle for about a tenth under 2”. My plan was to cut all boards to 4’ in length, rip square at the 1.9” and glue into three sections, a five board panel, a six board panel, and another five board panel. These panels would still be narrow enough to run through the surface planer to true them up after the initial glue up. I made all the panels necessary to give me the number of blocks needed. I then crosscut all the panels into the 5” lengths, to give me the 5” depth of the top. Once all the blocks were cut I laid them out on the bench, matched and flipped blocks to give me the pattern I wanted on the end grain, and started the glue up. I started with about 8 rows of the three blocks at first, then added another 5-6 rows every hour until it was completed. Suggested drying time is overnight, but things are pretty set after an hour. My idea was by only adding a few rows at a time, I could acheive even pressure and have enough time to glue all the surfaces before it started to tack up. I used 2 50” bessey k-bodies along the center, four 4’ x 3/4 pipe clamps on the corners, and about 8 f clamps to hold everything tight to the bench. Use clear packing tape on the clamp bars, not on the blocks. squeeze out on the blocks can cause staining that is hard to sand out. Being my first one, it was a bit rattling to keep it all tight and flat. I would have been alot more comfortable with about 20 more clamps and a few more hands, but it came out of the clamps within 1/8” over the length, which i thought was nothing short of miraculous. As far as pressure, I broght it into the three sections for a couple reasons, one I could run through surface plane after initial glue up, and it is alot easier to keep basically three blocks across straight and true during glue up, than it is 16 seperate blocks. Good luck with yours, with a bit of planning, a good dry run before adding glue and patience, you will be fine I am sure. I am a serious newb, but if you have any questions, post them. The guys on this site are absolutely helpful. Thank you for your comments.

View Manitario's profile


2818 posts in 3938 days

#12 posted 01-20-2011 05:46 AM

very, very impressive, especially for first project!

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Scott10's profile


28 posts in 4097 days

#13 posted 01-20-2011 11:55 PM

Thanks Randy. I’ll let you know how it turns out, maybe even post a pic when its finished.

-- Scott

View kalapolo's profile


63 posts in 3744 days

#14 posted 01-31-2011 11:36 PM

Fantastic looking island! I think you deserve another tool :)

View ChrisMc45's profile


117 posts in 3915 days

#15 posted 03-03-2012 05:03 AM

You are way more audacious than I! I predicated the whole thing using a store-bought butcherblock top. I figured I could handle the box and slide-out recycling bins as my limit.
-Good on you for doing what “they” said was too much!

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