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Thread: The butcher block project...

  1. #1
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    The butcher block project...

    I got a call from a friend who has a beautiful old butcher block that he wants to use in his kitchen. It's 30" square and 11" thick. It weighs a TON! Well, not quite that much, but he estimates about 250 lbs or so. The problem is that the base was damaged and not usable. We talked a bit about what he wanted and I got busy on Sketchup. I'm going to use 4/4 maple and glue up the legs and they will be 3-1/2" square when done. I'm going to mortise and tenon the top rail pieces and put visible dowels in them. The shelf will be 1" thick and mortised into the legs too. This thing is going to be SOLID!

    I just emailed him pics of the drawings I did. If he likes it, I'll give him a price and get started if it's a go. I can't wait, this one's gonna be nice!

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    Last edited by John Pollman; 04-15-2013 at 05:14 PM.
    "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten"

  2. #2
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    so how are you going to attach the top to the leg framework?
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  3. #3
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    I was planning on just setting the top onto the base. Then some pocket screws through the legs (on the inside) and screw up into the top. Then maybe just some steel angle brackets between the top and the rails. That should hold it. Once it gets put in place, it's not going anywhere.
    "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten"

  4. #4
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    Called the client a couple hours ago and gave him the quote. He said to go ahead and get started! So I'm headed down to Public Lumber in the morning to pick up a mess of 4/4 Maple and get going.
    "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten"

  5. #5
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    It was a productive weekend!

    I didn't start the butcher block base until late Friday afternoon, and there's a good chance that I'll have it finished by tomorrow evening. The new jointer is working great and helped speed this project along. I did hit one bump in the road though. I found that my mortiser is USELESS on hard maple. But that's OK, I figured out a way to get them cut that worked pretty well. I just used a combination of 1/2" forstner bit, Fein oscillating tool, and some chisels and I'm good to go. The tenons are a piece of cake. I've got all of the pieces cut. The mortise and tenon joints on one of the four legs are all done and fit very nicely. I've got the rest of the mortises cut and just have to clean them up a bit with a chisel. If I get those done tonight, I may get some more tenons cut and ready to go. I've got the shelf glued up in two pieces and in a couple hours, I can glue those together and let them sit overnight and the shelf will be ready for sanding and cut to final size.

    Assembly should take place tomorrow!
    "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten"

  6. #6
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    I have a similar butcher block--31" x 38" x 11" in black locust. It is a beast. The top just sits on the stand and is positioned by four small cleats screwed to the underside. I recommend thinking about heavy duty casters on your stand. We have had to move ours within the kitchen several times and it's not a one man job without the casters.
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  7. #7
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    If it is a real butcher block - end grain up - recognize that it will expand to the side - both directions. I would worry about the frame around the block being broken apart as the block is used. Ted's approach to put the support entirely underneath solves that problem. I saw a design on TV many years ago where the sides of the block were sloped, so as they expanded they rose in the sloping sides of the support.

    I don't know the ideal solution to the expansion and contraction of the block, but it needs to be considered. A solid wood frame around it seems like it may be asking for trouble.
    Charlie Plesums, Austin Texas
    (Retired early to become a custom furnituremaker)
    Lots of my free advice at www.solowoodworker.com

  8. #8
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    Charlie, check John's first and third images in the initial post again. It looks to me like the block is going to be sitting on top (the ends) of the 4x4 legs and the frame at the top of the stand. His butcher block just isn't rendered to look very butcher blockish.

    I do like Ted's cleat idea. The cleats could be attached to allow for movement, too.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  9. #9
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    Yep, it's a real butcher block. It's actually 30-1/2" square. I'm making the base 30" square. The block is just going to sit on the top. I had planned on just putting some pocket screws in the back side of the legs up into the block. But I don't think I'm going to do that. I think it's just going to be some cleats attached to the inside of the rails on the base. We talked about casters, but I think it's just going to be stationary.

    I got quite a bit accomplished today. I actually got a bit more done after these shots were taken. The shelf is all glued up and I can sand it and trim it to rough size tomorrow. Once I finish the rest of the mortise & tenon joints, I'll cut the shelf to finished size and install it.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten"

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn McMillan View Post
    Charlie, check John's first and third images in the initial post again. It looks to me like the block is going to be sitting on top (the ends) of the 4x4 legs and the frame at the top of the stand. ....
    Thanks Vaughn. Apologies to John. Reminder to self... leave brain in gear before operating mouth. The original images were fine, but my mind was focusing on the side rails and by the time I had read the other posts, I was too focused on the expansion issues and the steps taken on the TV show many years ago.

    Now another suggestion, hopefully not as dumb as my first.... I might just screw four strips, say 1x1x20 to the bottom of the block to keep it aligned on the base - initially perhaps 1/4 inch away from the side rails. The base can be put in place, then the block, both of which are probably quite heavy. The strips will keep it from walking off the base over time. If the block is lifted off for whatever reason, it will still sit smoothly on the floor or wherever, and fingers will fit underneath to lift it. I don't see the need to screw the two together.
    Charlie Plesums, Austin Texas
    (Retired early to become a custom furnituremaker)
    Lots of my free advice at www.solowoodworker.com

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