Finger joints for butcher block or not.

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Forum topic by Ken_W posted 06-14-2017 03:41 AM 2404 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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7 posts in 1238 days

06-14-2017 03:41 AM

Trying to build a walnut butcher block counter top, two pieces
(1) 116” X 26”X” 1.-3/8”
(2) 84” X 26” X 1-3/8

The two counters brought together at 45 deg at the end.

Im got about 130 bf of 8/4 rough cut walnut. I was going to use but 6/4 but I got a deal on the 8/4. The 8/4 is in the form of 8 ft long boards 4-9” wide. Most are in the neighborhood of 6”. My plan was to cut them into 30-40” length, whatever will let me keep the most thickness, plane one face, and adjacent side then cut them into 1-1/2” width boards, then plane them down to 1-7/8”. The 1-7/8” becomes the width of the boards in the finished countertop. I’m hoping to get 1-7/8” width out of it but willing to go to 1-3/4” if I need to. \So Im winding up with milled pieces at 1-7/8” (w) by 1-1/2 depth X 30-40” long.

My plan was to make 4 glue ups, qty2 4boards wide, qty2 3boards wide. The idea is to keep them less than 8” wide so I can get them over my jointer. Then use dominos to align them when I glue the 4 glue ups together

The question is should I finger joint the ends of the individual boards during the glueing process. Im leaning towards no, but wondered what every else thought. I actually already have the finger joint bit,so I don’t need to buy anything. It as a max thickness it can finger joint of 1-3/8”.

The Pro for doing it
(1) it will help with the alignment of the boards.
(2) Looked cool on the ones I saw at IKEA

The Cons
(1) Would have to mill from 1-1/2 to 1-3/8”, not hard but lots of sawdust
(2) A complex glue joint to have to smear glue on would have 12-16 jounces on each of the glue up in addition to the sides of each piece. SoCal so its above 80F now and the Titebond 3 sets quickly. I would also need to tap each of the joints with a mallet together as its very much a friction fit. The glue up would be a workout.
(3) Have to run each piece through the router, again not hard but time consuming.
(4) The top finger is a bit less than 1/8” deep so afraid I might plane into it snaps off in the future.

As I said Im leaning towards no, but wondered what everyone else thought. The joint would look like this from the side

2 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4426 days

#1 posted 06-14-2017 04:41 AM

I wouldn’t.

End grain finger jointing is an industrial process
for maximizing wood yield in highly automated
factory situations. It’s used in IKEA stuff
to control costs.

I also think in a small shop with a router it
would be more bother than it’s worth to get
it right.

View splintergroup's profile (online now)


3801 posts in 2000 days

#2 posted 06-14-2017 03:30 PM

I’ve added splines to glue ups like this, mainly out of paranoia from joinery failures.

I don’t see the glue being a problem since you can brush on glue just as easily and fast compared to a plain joint, however the fingers lock down the shifting that happens with plain edge joints. This effectively saves several minutes of time that is not wasted realigning everything as you clamp.

Downside is as you said, less thickness and as Loren points out, more work.

Personally I like the look and “security”.

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