End grain butcher block countertop

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Forum topic by 616jason616 posted 02-16-2020 03:59 PM 372 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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19 posts in 450 days

02-16-2020 03:59 PM

Topic tags/keywords: butcher block countertops end grain glue up joining traditional question

I am planing to make an end grain butcher block counter top this spring. The counter top will be about a 74” x 66” L shaped counter with a 25” width. My material is going to be Walnut. My plan is to make it in 5 pieces at a width of about 1 1/2”. I’ve made smaller end grain blocks but never anything this big so I’m hopeful that some of you can give me some tips or pointers. I don’t want to be all in with this project and come to find out there are a ton of unforeseen issues. Any tips or advise will be greatly appreciated. Thanks guys!

-- Jason

3 replies so far

View EGadd's profile


1 post in 439 days

#1 posted 02-25-2020 01:09 PM

Just wondering what you have in mind to deal with seasonal expansion and contraction. Looks to me like in the longest dimension (74”), you may need to deal with about an inch of change from the driest to most humid times of the year. Will there be a cutout for a sink? If so, that would be another place where I’d wonder about dealing the expansion and contraction.

View Tony1212's profile


517 posts in 2813 days

#2 posted 02-25-2020 01:36 PM

I’ve always wondered how such long spans of endgrain would hold up to sagging. Or are you putting it in top of a sheet of plywood/MDF/particle board?

I’d imagine if you ever need to pound on something, or leave a heavy appliance, between the front and back supports, the endgrain would just pull apart and you’d get a lot of cracks.

If you put a board underneath as support, I’d worry about liquids soaking through the endgrain and just sitting on the support wood and rotting between the endgrain top and support board.

I’m sure there are ways around all of this, but I don’t know what they are. I’d be interested to learn.

-- Tony, SW Chicago Suburbs

View Lazyman's profile


6979 posts in 2466 days

#3 posted 02-25-2020 02:06 PM

On a traditionally glued up panel, there is very little shrinkage and expansion along the length. This is known as longitudinal expansion. In fact, the longitudinal expansion is generally so small that you can usually ignore it completely. The wood database website has a good explanation of the wood expansion here. You usually just have to worry about expansion in the width of the panel. By orienting the the grain so that end grain is on the surface, you will have to deal with expansion in both the width and the length of the counter top so you will need to make sure that you have a way to attach the countertop that allows movement in both the width and the length. Also, it is probably a good idea to make sure that each piece has the grain oriented the same way. If you have turned in random directions, I would be afraid that there could be a problem over the length or width and it could split at some point, even if you have it attached in a way that allows it to move appropriately. I assume it would be best to have the growth rings oriented so that the tangential shrinkage is maximum across the width (the shortest dimension) just as a traditionally glued up panel usually is.

This is all based upon theory of course. I have never done this myself.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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