Thick Butcher Block Table, Need Some Help.

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Forum topic by BigJon posted 09-02-2016 03:26 PM 776 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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52 posts in 3461 days

09-02-2016 03:26 PM

Hello all!

I have a client that wants me to make a pretty large end grain butcher block table out of white oak. The dimensions for the block are 30” X 30” X 6” thick. I have made dozens of both end grain and long grain boards so I understand the process, but never done anything to this scale. I have a 13” planner, 6” jointer and a good 10” table saw.

My current plan is to make a bunch of 6” long 30” wide 2”thick, long grain boards and then glue them all together to make the 30X30×6. I figure I can plane those boards to get the sides parallel and have good glue surfaces. Does this sound like a reasonable idea? Any tips on gluing 6×30x2” boards face to face? Use a few biscuits on each to help keep things lined up? I am not apposed to using drawbolts to pull it all together and make it tight either.

Flattening the beast is no problem, I have a router sled for that. Any input would be greatly appreciated.


-- Im bleeding, go get my super glue and roll of black tape....

2 replies so far

View ErichK's profile


89 posts in 2115 days

#1 posted 09-02-2016 06:25 PM

It seems reasonable to me. I might make the source boards (I assume you’ll be cutting that from a ~100”x30”x2” board) for the 6×30x2 as 3 separate ones 10 inches wide so you can plane them with the planer FIRST, then glue those together, then cut into 6” strips.

Gluing them together after that is going to be identical to the a cutting board I’d imagine. If you want to keep them aligned, I’d suggest putting the biscuits on the BOTTOM, since I’d be afraid that you’d wear into the top over time. Every time I see an old butcher block it has worn in the middle a few inches, so I’d hate for that to get into the biscuits.

View dalepage's profile


390 posts in 2293 days

#2 posted 09-03-2016 12:13 AM

Jon, you are on the right track. I did the same thing but made the end grain hickory only about 4 inches thick. I put it together as you plan, by making blocks which I could plane and then glue together.

(Many folks say you can’t plane end grain. It’s just not so. I put sacrificial boards on the two ends and then take only slight cuts on the end grain. The sacrificial boards are not end grain up. This technique has resulted in zero ruined boards from split out end grain.)

I, too, used a sled to level the final glue-up with my router. It was time-consuming, but relatively easy.

What I did differently than your plan to make the end grain 6” thick was to wrap the edges with hard maple which was 6” long. That has end grain up, too. That takes away a lot of weight and I was limited on my thickly sawn hickory from my property. It was smoothed with the last router passes. I also use a sled for a belt sander to take off the scratches from the planer.

My Festool 6” Rotex saved lots of time in the final sanding.

I used the same hard maple on the legs and stretchers as I did on the wrap for the top. Maybe you can see the results here:

The design on the top was planned so that the hickory boards, with both heart and sap wood, would make the resulting design. Turned out really well and worth the time to plan.

-- Dale

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