Do It Yourself: How To Make Your Own Butcher Block Table

Following a few simple steps you can make a beautiful butcher block table customized to fit your style and kitchen.

Butcher block tables are appreciated by many for their combination of utility and beauty. They provide an excellent surface for cutting, preparing and serving food. Although butcher block tables are expensive to buy, you can make your own butcher block table for much less. First you should decide which type of wood to use. If you will be using your butcher block table for food preparation you need to be aware of certain woods that are not safe to be used for food preparation, such as spalted maple. Most wood that you find at a typical hardware store will be fine but certain wood types are more desirable than others. Walnut, ash, and beech are commonly used for butcher block, but hard maple is by far the most common wood for butcher block because of its longevity and durability. Oak should not be used if the table will be used for food preparation because it has large pores which are hard to clean.

Once you have decided which type of wood to use, you may purchase a pre-manufactured butcher block top or make your own. Many chain hardware stores supply unfinished butcher block in standard sizes. The top should not be less than 1.5 inches thick to ensure the surface is solid enough for heavy use. Purchasing a pre-manufactured top is an excellent choice for those without woodworking experience. You can also make your own butcher block top by gluing together individual pieces of wood. If you choose to make your own, you can use the end grain or the side grain of the wood for the cutting surface. The end grain is known for its durability and longevity even after repeated deep cuts in the surface, but it requires more joints and glue which makes it more likely to crack along a glue line. Side grain butcher blocks are easier to assemble and nearly as strong.

To make your own butcher block table top, use 1 inch by 2 inch pieces of wood cut to lengths 1/2 inch larger than the actual width of the top. Remember that the actual size of wood labeled 1 by 2 inches at the hardware store is actually 3/4 by 1 1/5 inches. These will be glued together along the 2 inch side so that the side grain appears in one inch strips. This means that the number of 1 by 2 inch boards you will need depends upon the overall size of your table top. If you want a table top that is 2 feet by 4 feet you would need thirty-two 1 by 2 inch boards cut to 48 1/2 inches (you need thirty-two pieces because they are not actually 1 by 2 inches). Glue the pieces together using an FDA approved, water resistant wood glue. Clamp them together and allow the glue to dry according to the manufacturer's directions. Lightly sand the table top to remove excess glue. Using a table saw, cut 1/4 inch from the long ends of the table top, the ends with many different pieces of wood rather than the side with one piece of wood. These cuts will even the edges of your table top. Next, sand the top and bottom of the butcher block so that you have a level surface.

Whether you purchased or built your own butcher block table top, the next step is to round the edges of the butcher block. If you have a router you can add a variety of decorative edges to the butcher block. Most butcher block tables are simply rounded over on the edges for safety and easy clean up. After you have finished the edges, apply food-safe nontoxic oil to the butcher block. Mineral oil and olive oil are commonly used. Let the oil soak into the wood, lightly sand the surface, and apply a second coat. Let this soak in overnight and wipe off any excess oil. To maintain your butcher block table top you should apply this oil once a month.

Now it is time to add the legs. There are many materials that can be used for table legs so be creative! If you have an expertise in an area such as metalworking, this would be a great way to use your skill to create a unique finishing touch for your butcher block table. There are also easy options that have a professional and finished look to them. You can buy leg plates and a variety of leg styles from a hardware store. The leg plates come with screws to attach them to the bottom of your table top and the legs screw into the leg plate. These are sturdy and inexpensive which means they are a great solution for most beginners. If you choose to use pre-manufactured table legs you can customize your butcher block table by adding an apron, the wooden strip which runs underneath the table from one leg to another. You can also custom make table legs using wooden railings or wood cut into a decorative pattern. You can also look around for a pedestal or legs from another table at garage sales or thrift stores. This is where your own unique style will shine through. No matter which table leg you use to finish off your butcher block table, this will surely be a beautiful addition to your kitchen or dining room.

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