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End Grain Repair (Plug?) on Butcher Block Countertop

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Forum topic by Lovegasoline posted 08-04-2020 12:26 PM 404 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Lovegasoline

161 posts in 887 days


08-04-2020 12:26 PM

I could use some opinions on an end grain repair.
I’m re-purposing an edge joined maple butcher block counter top and I’ve altered the dimensions and shape to that end. After I’d cut it to size I noticed that one of my perpendicular cuts intersected with a line of few biscuits that I’d incorporated in the original glue up.

This countertop is one member of a three-part countertop project which got put on the back burner a couple years back as it neared the finishing stage. At the time I thought the blemish was minor enough, looked like a spline, and I could maybe live with it. However there’s some yellow glue in with it and, well, it’s not going to pass muster. Now on closer review I’m interested in some other options.
My thinking is going towards some sort of plug (perhaps a drilled holed and dowel, or better an irregular shaped patch inserted. Not sure how best to go about that. I’m good at painting, maybe I can paint in some grain if needed.
Regarding the finish, I’d decided on satin polyurethane brushed on. However, I’ve been recently revisiting the idea of spraying it, however the finishes that appeal to me and are hard wearing enough have a level of toxicity I’d prefer to avoid. I used a conversion varnish that was very durable, went on like a dream, and lasted a decade of hard use, however I’m no longer interested in spraying CVs.

I’ve included some pics (sorry for the poor quality, perhaps I can get some better pics taken).
In the three photos one can see two horizontal rectangular slots … these are the the biscuit cross sections. The only one that concerns me is the right most one (the one on the left will be concealed against a wall once installed). On this right hand one there’s the biscuit wood and a little bit of yellow glue.
There’s another small blemish consisting of a little divot of yellow glue … this can be seen in the third pic in line vertically where the round over profile ends; this will be visible as well.
Actually there’s a third little blemish but I already corrected it with a little matching chunk of wood and CA glue: it’s circular about 1/8” in dia. and seen in the second photo right near the right edge of the photo.



Any ideas are welcomed.
Thanks.

-- “It is the beginning of wisdom to recognize that most men are fools and knaves, but it is the end of wisdom to embrace that vision.” -Arthur Kleps


12 replies so far

View theart's profile

theart

224 posts in 1403 days


#1 posted 08-04-2020 01:14 PM

It’s been on the back burner for a few years, but is there any chance that the piece you cut off is still in your scrap pile? If so, routing out oval mortises and filling them with plugs of the same wood would be the way to go.

View tbone's profile

tbone

316 posts in 4533 days


#2 posted 08-04-2020 01:26 PM

Since you said “Any ideas are welcomed”, I’ll give you mine. I would rout out a mortise about a quarter inch or so deep from seam to seam, and all the way up to the round-over. Then glue a couple of end grain pieces similar the others and that should do it. That way, you won’t have to match existing grain patterns and the seam along the round over should be easy to hide.
I should also point out that ‘end-grain to end-grain’ gluing is not the strongest, but it will be under NO stress at any time.

-- Kinky Friedman: "The first thing I'll do if I'm elected is demand a recount."

View AAL's profile

AAL

91 posts in 2275 days


#3 posted 08-04-2020 04:48 PM

A question that occurred to me that may have no relevance to your application of this butcher block countertop is: do you intend to prepare any food directly on any part of this countertop? Probably not, but I’ll ask anyway.

If you do, you might want to consider using food-quality mineral oil and/or wax instead of polyurethane. Just a thought.

-- "Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery." Winston Churchill

View Lovegasoline's profile

Lovegasoline

161 posts in 887 days


#4 posted 08-04-2020 07:53 PM


It s been on the back burner for a few years, but is there any chance that the piece you cut off is still in your scrap pile? If so, routing out oval mortises and filling them with plugs of the same wood would be the way to go.

- theart

I have some scraps and cutoffs, can’t say if I have the exact piece.
How best to accomplish the oval mortise? How to match the grain?
Is this done like a butterfly patch with a template (btw never done that or anything like that) and usually accentuates the patch rather than concealing it? Would the final result typically resemble a football patch in plywood? If yes, it would trade one defect for another?

I’ve done small patches by hand matching grain flow, but not with a router and oval plug.
In the back of my mind I always default to Tage Frig’s advice (if I’m remembering it correctly, hope I’m not imagining it) to make patches preferably running diagonal to the grain and irregularly shaped to better conceal them.

-- “It is the beginning of wisdom to recognize that most men are fools and knaves, but it is the end of wisdom to embrace that vision.” -Arthur Kleps

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Lovegasoline

161 posts in 887 days


#5 posted 08-04-2020 08:16 PM



Since you said “Any ideas are welcomed”, I ll give you mine. I would rout out a mortise about a quarter inch or so deep from seam to seam, and all the way up to the round-over. Then glue a couple of end grain pieces similar the others and that should do it. That way, you won t have to match existing grain patterns and the seam along the round over should be easy to hide.
I should also point out that end-grain to end-grain gluing is not the strongest, but it will be under NO stress at any time.

- tbone

Interesting approach. It certainly would remove the blemish however altering the roundover profile wasn’t in my thoughts. The problem is that this section of countertop fits between a sink on one side and a wall on the other (the wall isn’t deep and it’s like an alcove … it ends where the roundover profile begins) and it has been precisely fitted. I’m not sure I could reestablish the profile and edge cleanly and surgically with hand tools and if not, I’m left to have to joint the entire side and redo the roundover profile … which depending on how it goes might change the dimension and fit … and doing so might also remove my other spot repair which isn’t that deep.

Perhaps I could experiment with profiling the replacement plug first, routing the profile and then cutting the plug to dimension. Although I’ve never tried to obtain that sort of precision in thickness etc. on a small piece of end grain.

I suppose the plug could be a single piece instead of two. You’ll note the width of the wood strips with the biscuit through them are half the size of the other strips …doing so would place a seam along the roundover edge, the roundover is 3/8” and perhaps a 3/8” plug vs. 1/4” would place the seam where the roundover meets the top plane.

-- “It is the beginning of wisdom to recognize that most men are fools and knaves, but it is the end of wisdom to embrace that vision.” -Arthur Kleps

View Lovegasoline's profile

Lovegasoline

161 posts in 887 days


#6 posted 08-04-2020 08:19 PM



A question that occurred to me that may have no relevance to your application of this butcher block countertop is: do you intend to prepare any food directly on any part of this countertop? Probably not, but I ll ask anyway.

If you do, you might want to consider using food-quality mineral oil and/or wax instead of polyurethane. Just a thought.

- AAL

No food prep directly on any of my counters, alwasy on cutting boards. However, I think during my lifetime my food has made contact with all sorts of surfaces plenty of them more unsavory and worrisome than fully cured poly.

-- “It is the beginning of wisdom to recognize that most men are fools and knaves, but it is the end of wisdom to embrace that vision.” -Arthur Kleps

View gdaveg's profile

gdaveg

53 posts in 50 days


#7 posted 08-04-2020 08:33 PM

Another idea that is easy, Drill a hole at each defect with a forstner bit and plug with a hardwood dowel. Maybe maple or maybe some other really different wood like walnut. If you could figure out a pattern using existing blemish sites and add others to get something that is symmetrical. JM2C

Dave

-- Dave, Vancouver, WA

View theart's profile

theart

224 posts in 1403 days


#8 posted 08-05-2020 01:43 PM


I have some scraps and cutoffs, can t say if I have the exact piece.
How best to accomplish the oval mortise? How to match the grain?
Is this done like a butterfly patch with a template (btw never done that or anything like that) and usually accentuates the patch rather than concealing it? Would the final result typically resemble a football patch in plywood? If yes, it would trade one defect for another?

I ve done small patches by hand matching grain flow, but not with a router and oval plug.
In the back of my mind I always default to Tage Frig s advice (if I m remembering it correctly, hope I m not imagining it) to make patches preferably running diagonal to the grain and irregularly shaped to better conceal them.

- Lovegasoline

The exact piece won’t help, because it will have the other half of the biscuit in it, but if you have scraps you’ve got the color matched and a good chance finding some bits with close enough grain. To rout an oval mortise, use a straight bit and an edge guide.

Plan B would just be to run a slot cutter all the way around the counter top and inlay a contrasting stripe.

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

5839 posts in 3199 days


#9 posted 08-05-2020 02:10 PM

Rout a dovetail slot across the end grain and through the biscuits, then insert a matching dovetail slip of contrasting wood, glue it at the back end only. It will look like a dove tail spline, hide the biscuits and allow for movement.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Cincinnati2929's profile

Cincinnati2929

50 posts in 756 days


#10 posted 08-05-2020 03:45 PM

My initial thought was to cut a slot through the biscuits and inset either a Strip of contrasting wood, or a strip of the same species. Run it along the entire edge, but stopping short of the front so it is not revealed at the font edge. Or if you run it through to the front, you may. Need to inlay a strip along the entire width of all countertops for uniformity,

I’d use a press fit and glue it in a manner that it permits expansion. (Probably glue the front edge and let it expand/contract at the back against the wall (unless this is on an island/peninsula.)

Option 2: adhere a thin strip to cover the entire edge. Not my favorite option.

Option 3: cut out the exposed biscuit maybe 1/4” deep and custom fit a plug with Closely matched grain. This is probably the least conspicuous.

View Lovegasoline's profile

Lovegasoline

161 posts in 887 days


#11 posted 08-05-2020 06:44 PM

Thanks for the replies.

Adding contrasting wood, or introducing strips or edging wont fit in with the prevailing aesthetic and the other countertops, and the other countertops have made it clear to me that they oppose that solution and they have the final say.

So at present I’m left with tbone’s end grain replacement program or some variation of mortising out the visible biscuit and plugging it with a closely matched endgrain plug. The latter option seems more difficult to screw up but on the other hand an endgrain plug seems trickier than a face grain plug. How best to approach inserting a plug so it doesn’t resemble a plug and is inconspicious? Also the plug will span the joint where two pieces of wood meet and present a chevron pattern. I just measured the biscuit defect and it’s 5/8” x 3/16”.

I’ve got a PC plunge router plus edge guide & bushings (the latter only used once), hand router and chisels (the smallest chisel 1/4”, and an extra 1/4” chisel I want to convert to 1/8” but don’t have a grinder), don’t have a small trim router, exceptionally good and sharp brad point bits, so so Forstner bits, lots of dyes and stains across the spectrum, and teeny pinpoint 000 artist sable brushes. (Oh, I also have a 1/2” plug cutter, too small and not sure how it would function on end grain).

Is there a way to make and insert a plug that doesn’t look very conspicuous (like a plywood football patch) that isn’t full on brain surgery? Or if it is brain surgery, anyone have the step-by-step? I’ve done small veneer patches but the latter seems easier than this, or maybe it’s just my lack of experience.

Any guidance on how this is done?

-- “It is the beginning of wisdom to recognize that most men are fools and knaves, but it is the end of wisdom to embrace that vision.” -Arthur Kleps

View Picken5's profile

Picken5

320 posts in 3540 days


#12 posted 08-05-2020 09:04 PM

I’d get a hole plug bit and cut a tapered plug out of some of your scrap. You could probably find a piece with grain that matches pretty closely. Then use a matching size forstner bit to drill out the defect area. Tap the plug into the hole with a small amount of wood glue leaving it a bit proud. When the glue’s dry, trim the excess with a flexible, flush-cut saw. Sand. In my experience, it’ll be most noticeable by you and hardly anyone else will see it — unless you point it out to them.

-- Howard - "Time spent making sawdust is not deducted from one's lifetime." - old Scottish proverb

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