Kitchen Island butcher block

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Forum topic by Doug posted 09-11-2012 12:26 PM 2217 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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28 posts in 3146 days

09-11-2012 12:26 PM

Topic tags/keywords: finishing sanding woodburning trick question tip maple

Ive just purchased a 68’‘x 32’‘x3’’ in thick slab of maple for use as a butcher block kitchen island. I need to cut it to length, cutout for a cooktop, and sand and finish it. The main worry I have is how to properly cut it to length without burning and other problems. How should I cut this thing? Its very large and heavy so maneuverability is an issue. Also I was thinking of doing a quarter round-over all around the top edge. Is this a good idea? Is there a more mainstream way to finish these? Any suggestions on finishing would be appreciated as well. Thanks

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#1 posted 09-11-2012 01:08 PM

What tools do you have or are available to you?

How confident are you of being able to do this yourself? – I’m only asking because you are new and have no projects posted, so (welcome aboard) it’s difficult to know what advice to offer. It’s a hefty bit of timber and I’m sure you want it done right.

If you haven’t got much in the way of tools, you might be better off asking someone who has to do it, or if you have a Festool TS75, turn the speed down and take 3 maybe 4 passes at it with a clean medium blade. Sanding you could do with a ROS, the cutouts – I’d do that with a router with a template, though for 3 inches, you are looking at using a collet extension or a very long bit.
As for the edge molding – the best thing you can do there is try a few scrap pieces and come up with one you like – after all, you are going to have to live with it for a long time to come.
You’d want a food safe finish, one that will be resilient to cuts, so probably an oil or hardwax finish, Have a look at Osmo worktop oils, is almost industry standard here for wooden worktops because of it’s availability, longevity and ease of recoating.

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28 posts in 3146 days

#2 posted 09-11-2012 01:18 PM

Thanks for the quick reply, I am new to the forum but I do have a fairly full shop of tools. Wish I had a festool but I do not. Would I be Ok with a high quality circ saw blade, fence, and multiple passes? Thanks again for finishing info

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#3 posted 09-11-2012 01:48 PM

Not too many options there unless you take it somewhere to have done.

I’d think there wouldn’t be an issue with a good circular saw and fence. Problem with 3” is you might have to cut the board from both top and bottom.

Regardless, I’d attack the cleanup with a good, sharp low-angle plane, followed by sandpaper. With care, you could use a hand-held belt sander, though I’d not prefer that method myself.

If the cut is exceptionally rough, I’d consider doing the finish cut with a good straight bit and a router (rough it out first with the circ saw)...from both sides of the board, using a guide, of course. Even if the bit isn’t very long, it will make shaving the remaining part a lot easier with a plane.

It’s a shame we all don’t have table saws with sliders…that’d be the ticket.

Really good questions, though. With maple, it’s not exactly a slam dunk job.

-- jay,

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2544 posts in 4022 days

#4 posted 09-11-2012 02:27 PM


I wouldn’t want to have to cut one side with the circ saw and flip it over to finish the cut – not unless I ran the saw on a zero clearance guide and had it cramped down. The point about turning down the speed is to prevent the maple burning, though if you have a clean sharp blade and go at it 3/4” at a time, you should be ok. If you do cut from both sides and need to level one bit, you could use a long, bottom bearing guided, flush router bit to straighten it.

I personally wouldn’t attempt cleaning that up with a block plane, I know the hand plane purists will say I’m a wussie, but it’s two big ends, and awkward because you won’t get it standing up to go at it, and maple is tough.

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2839 posts in 3349 days

#5 posted 09-11-2012 03:21 PM

Makita makes a circular saw that takes a 10 1/4 inch blade, so you can cut your slab in one pass, or at least from just one side in multiple passes. The cutout for the cook top doesn’t need to be perfect so you can drill a hole in the four corners and then just connect the dots by plunge cutting. Clamp down a straight edge and take your time. You can finish those cuts in the corners with a hand saw. If the cooktop is held in by some type of clip like a sink would be, you may have to make some type of slots for the clips, maybe a buscuit cutter could do that. Roundover is a design decision and is up to you

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1101 posts in 3339 days

#6 posted 09-11-2012 03:47 PM

rent a bigger circular saw. The end cut AND the cooktop cutout won’t take more than a few minutes. You will almost certainly get some burning in maple that thick with the tools at hand. In the cooktop cutout, it won’t matter, but on the end cut you’ll have a lot of belt sanding to do to get rid of the burn.

Another option would be to cut half way through (or a little more), flip it and cut it the rest of the way. The 2 cuts won’t match exactly (unless you’re REALLY lucky, in which case, go buy a lottery ticket). So see which cut you like best and flip the counter top so that cut is on the bottom. Get a 2 inch bottom-bearing flush trim bit, 1/2 inch shank and a good router and follow that bottom cut with the bearing to bring the other cut to it.
You’ll still have sanding to do, but far less of it.

As for round over, that’s kind of personal preference. I think 1/4” is too much, but others may think it’s fine. I’d go 1/8 inch first and see if you like it. On my walnut top I actually just shaped the edge with my random orbital sander. Used kind of a rolling motion so it didn’t look like multiple facets. Came out good. And really I just wanted to break the edge well.

Are you actually going to CUT on this top? If so, you’ll want to oil it a LOT at first. Every day for a week, every week for 3 months, every month for the rest of the year. After that, it’s “oil in” pretty good and should only need touch-ups occasionally or if you need to do a heavy cleaning. DO NOT bleach it. Clean it with coarse salt and a damp rag if you need to scrub it. Let it dry well and then oil afterward. Wood does NOT harbor bacteria. In fact it actually kills bacteria. They don’t survive on wood for long. It’s cleaner than plastic cutting boards.

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28 posts in 3146 days

#7 posted 09-17-2012 03:09 AM

Thanks a lot guys, there is plenty of great information here. We wont be cutting on the top for the reasons you mentioned…I really appreciate the tips. thanks again

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