If you’ve ever put a scratch or nick in your counter top while preparing food, you might want to think about a butcher block counter. With a butcher block, nicks aren’t a problem; they’re “character”. Wood is also attractive, and some studies show a wood surface prevents bacteria growth better than many other materials.
And if you make it yourself, it can be economical.
The best material is a hardwood, such as oak or rock maple. If you plan on cutting mainly bread and a few veggies, a softer wood like pine might be okay, though not recommended. Softwood is easier to work with, and gets a patina of age faster. But it also wears faster, which means you’ll need to maintain it more often, sanding out the scratches and gouges.
Buy 6/4″ stock and rip it to 1 1/2″ to 2″ widths. Cut these 8″ to 12″ longer than your finished length.
Place the boards on a flat surface, and line them up side-by-side, trying to get a good tight fit and an attractive look. (Alternate the end-grain cup — the curve of the end grain.) To test for snugness, clamp them with pipe clamps, placing a scrap of wood between the clamp and the wood.
Now, if you’ve cut carefully and you have a good table saw and a little luck, the pieces will fit snugly together. More likely, you’ll need to plane a couple areas. (Of course, if you have access to one, a jointer comes in handy.)
Once the pieces fit tightly, apply waterproof carpenter’s glue to adjoining edges and clamp the pieces together. You may need to clamp one section together, let it dry, then add more.
We’ll finish up next time.