I’m making a kitchen countertop that will be an end-grain butcher block style top. This is for an island that has a range in the center with the countertop going around the three sides. The rest of the kitchen has hard maple and padauk long-grain countertops and this island will stand out with the end-grain butcher block pattern.
I’m not covering the entire process in detail – for a great video on making an end-grain cutting board see The Wood Whisperer’s #7 – A Cut Above. He goes over the process in detail. The extremely short version is:
- Cut sticks of wood over some height/width, all the same length
- Glue them together in what’s called the “long grain glueup”
- Turn that 90 degrees and cut into many slices
- Flip those cuts down so that the end-grain faces up. Flip end-to-end or rotate some of them and then glue them together
Yeah – it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense unless you have an idea of how to do it – watch Marc’s video for that.
My initial step is to work up the design for the countertop. Since I’m dealing with a lot of small end-grain pieces, I’ll get a repeating design throughout the island. I put the overall dimensions into Google Sketchup and then broke that down into repeating components. I decided early on to go with two long grain glueups and alternate them, and also flip every other one end-to-end. I laid that out into sketchup to cover the whole island.
I then broke up the two end-grain components (representing the long-grain glueups) into small, rectangular pieces representing the pieces of wood. I went through and placed them pretty much at random, making a pattern that I liked. I kept in mind not to have any seams running vertically along the final butcher block. At first I made the pieces random sizes, but then realized it’d be a whole lot easier to keep them in 1/8″ increments (for when I got to the shop).
When I got that looking OK, I went ahead and started coloring some pieces red to represent the padauk. At this point I went back and forth: red, white – and also changed some of the piece sizes to get various patterns. I finally settled on one that I liked. I easily printed out the two long-grain glueups’ dimensions (from the two sketchup components) and it was off to the shop!
The first step is to obviously create all those small sticks of wood. Pretty fast but tedious. Roughsawn stock is 3′ long (for long-grain glueup). Jointer, tablesaw, bandsaw and sander all come into play. The long-grain glueup is 2.5″ high, but many sections contain smaller pieces of wood. Therefore I had to do a lot of sub-assemblies (glue sticks together) prior to doing the big long-grain glueup. In fact, some subassemblies were up to 4 glueups just to reach the 2.5″ high (see pics to understand).
Finally I got the long-grain glueup in the clamps. Both done now and ready to start slicing into sections.