How to cleanly cut corner out of butcher block countertop

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by ndtrek07 posted 04-04-2020 06:24 AM 548 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View ndtrek07's profile


12 posts in 3047 days

04-04-2020 06:24 AM

Topic tags/keywords: help butcher block countertop newbie

We’re looking to add a butcher block countertop over the washer and dryer in our laundry room, but the room has an odd shape, and I’m not sure how to cleanly make the cut.

I know there’s a lot of opinions about whether wood is a good choice in the laundry room, but the boss really wants it, so let’s not focus on that here. :)

This probably has more detail than is needed, but I want the countertop about 62” x 36.5”, flush against the left and top walls in the image.

As you can see, the top left corner of the room has a load-bearing post inside the finished wall. But I really want the countertop flush against the top and left walls, because if you drop a sock behind there it will really be a pain to get out.

Since custom butcher block counters are expensive, and I don’t have the time or equipment (joiner, planar) to make my own at the moment, my initial plan is to buy an unfinished butcher block countertop larger than I need, and cut it to size. Maybe make a cutting board out of the leftover parts.

Here’s the question: Assuming I get butcher block cut to 62” x 36.5”, what’s the cleanest way to cut out the 9.5” x 8.5” “notch” from the top left corner? Feels like table saw will not be clean enough. And the work piece is pretty big to try to put through a band saw.

Power Cutting Tools available to me are: Table saw, Band saw, router, circular saw, miter saw.

I’ve searched around, but I feel like I’m not using the right search terms. Appreciate any suggestions you have!

-- Chris

19 replies so far

View CaptainKlutz's profile


3041 posts in 2234 days

#1 posted 04-04-2020 06:31 AM

IME – you have to also consider whether the wall is flat, how will the countertop mount to wall, and allow for wood movement.

If wall is not square to back, or back wall is not straight between joists; will you also be cutting a tight profile against the wall? Or will you cut it straight, with a trim piece on top to hide the gaps from normal wood movement? If you use trim on top, you partially solve the issue of needed a perfect cut. Which is how Kitchen countertops are installed. They use back splash to hide the back of countertop. :-)

As far as cutting the notch:
Could man handle that size piece on band saw with extra supports. Otherwise, use a jig saw.

Update: IKEA sells solid maple countertop blanks about as cheap as can find. Just be sure to get SOLID maple version and not newer veneered versions, unless you don’t mind the veneer type.
Grizzly has laminated work top blanks 10% off this week, and free shipping on orders of $35+ too.

Best Luck!

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View Heyoka's profile


47 posts in 592 days

#2 posted 04-04-2020 12:47 PM

Jig saw, if you don’t think you can cut straight enough use a straight edge guide. There are down cut blades available for jig saws to eliminate top side tearout. And the whole perimeter facing the walls will probably need to be scribed to fit tight. Walls are never straight and square. But then a bit of cove moulding installed along the walls will mitigate all of that too.

-- Heyoka

View Lazyman's profile


5259 posts in 2127 days

#3 posted 04-04-2020 12:58 PM

Molding or a backsplash can help hide any imperfections. You might want to look for a YouTube video on countertop installation that shows how they conform a countertop to a wall that isn’t straight too but the molding is an easy solution as long as it is not way out.

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

View Kazooman's profile


1468 posts in 2692 days

#4 posted 04-04-2020 01:16 PM

Hand saw.

View Nubsnstubs's profile


1720 posts in 2470 days

#5 posted 04-04-2020 01:41 PM

You also might take into consideration that there will be electrical and plumbing for the appliances that are going to be inaccessible when this top goes in. Cut out an area large enough to access it, install some molding underneath to support the cutout to close up the access hole. Drill a hole to be able to lift it out if needed, or make a pull from wood to be able to lift it if necessary.

Cut the notch and above with a jigsaw then caulk anything you think is unsightly….......... Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

View gtrgeo's profile


116 posts in 1170 days

#6 posted 04-04-2020 01:53 PM

Of the tool option you have listed, I would say the circular saw. Unless you have a very good blade in the saw, make efforts to prevent splintering, and are confident with the saw you will likely need to cover the cut as Lazyman suggests with some type of molding.

Something to keep in mind with counter top installations is that walls are never straight or square. An easy way to determine the shape of your top is to use cardboard. Cut a piece roughly the size of the area and set it in place. Cut some narrow pieces the lengths of the areas that meet the wall. Press those pieces against the wall, you may need to scribe them for best fit, and tape in place. Once the fit is good against the wall, tape down to the larger, rough cut piece. You will end up with a full size template you can lay on your butcher block and trace out your cut lines.

You will likely find something like a jig saw would be your best option as most of the edges will not be straight. Most installers will use a belt sander to fine tune to the scribed lines. If you are unfamiliar with the process of scribing to a wall search “scribe a countertop” in google and you will find a lot of info. Scribing is usually done with a compass, I use the Fastcap scribing tool, a cheap option which works well for walls is a simple washer.

Butcher blocks are not cheap so if you have never done this before you may want to practice on a cheap piece of particle board or MDF.


View homestd's profile


10 posts in 633 days

#7 posted 04-04-2020 04:04 PM

+1 on the practice piece. When you get it right, there’s your template.

-- Mother is the necessity of most invention.

View ndtrek07's profile


12 posts in 3047 days

#8 posted 04-04-2020 04:13 PM

Thanks everyone! The jigsaw (now) seems like the obvious choice…and also should have been included on my list of available tools.

As usual, I got my question answered, and also a bunch of great suggestions to help make this project a success. Appreciate all your recommendations!

-- Chris

View shampeon's profile


2035 posts in 2923 days

#9 posted 04-04-2020 04:56 PM

Rough cut with jigsaw just shy of the line, clean it up with a router with a pattern bit and some pieces of plywood/mdf/straight wood scrap double-side taped to the lines. Use a sharp chisel to get the corner.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View LeeRoyMan's profile


1090 posts in 466 days

#10 posted 04-04-2020 05:13 PM

I’d just cut it out with a jig saw and clean it up with a sanding block.

I would make a template out of anything flat and rigid, A good template takes the guess work out of it.

I like using the Ram Board floor protection, but cardboard or even rosin paper will work good enough.
If you have a big enough piece of cardboard, you could use it fit the top to the walls also.

-- I only know what I know, nothing less, nothing more -- That doesn't count what I used to know..

View LesB's profile


2518 posts in 4183 days

#11 posted 04-04-2020 05:29 PM

If the under side is not visible after installation I would cut the notch using a circular skill saw, cutting from the under side. Stop a half inch or so short of the top side corner and finish with a hand saw. Yes you will have an “over cut” on the underside but it won’t show. This will give you the straightest cleanest cut short of cleaning up a jig saw cut with a router pattern bit…or less accurate by sanding.

We love our wives but some of their ideas are not too practical. Most of the time my wife will listen to reason but not always. Good luck.

-- Les B, Oregon

View Phil32's profile


1061 posts in 643 days

#12 posted 04-04-2020 07:29 PM

I would get a helping hand and cut it on your band saw. The problem would be the two cuts would have to be made from different sides of the butcherblock.

-- Phil Allin - There are mountain climbers and people who talk about climbing mountains. The climbers have "selfies" at the summit!

View tvrgeek's profile


950 posts in 2389 days

#13 posted 04-04-2020 07:38 PM

THere are times I reach for my trusty Diston crosscut saws.

View Phil32's profile


1061 posts in 643 days

#14 posted 04-04-2020 09:20 PM

THere are times I reach for my trusty Diston crosscut saws.

- tvrgeek

If this is a true butcherblock (i.e. endgrain) you should use your rip saw.

-- Phil Allin - There are mountain climbers and people who talk about climbing mountains. The climbers have "selfies" at the summit!

View ndtrek07's profile


12 posts in 3047 days

#15 posted 04-04-2020 09:37 PM


The corner is slightly rounded, so I think a pattern + jigsaw + sanding will probably work best. Plus I need to do the cutout for the hoses.

Don’t know if it matters, but this is the leading contender based on my size restrictions, and the boss’s designer eye:

Someone did something very similar to what we were thinking, and got good results finishing with Watco Dark Walnut Danish Oil:

-- Chris

showing 1 through 15 of 19 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics