Jay’s Butcher Block Table

Viewer Project -
Added on December 24, 2010


From: Jay Talbott

Location: Gilbert, AZ

Amateur or Pro: Amateur

Finish Used: Top: Three coats of General Finishes Salad Bowl Finish, diluted 50/50 with mineral spirits, wiped on. The first coat sucked up a ton of finish as it soaked into all that end grain like a sponge.

Base: Three coats of General Finishes Arm-R-Seal (four coats for the shelf), wiped on. Final coat diluted 50/50 with Naptha. Basically followed the process in the A Simple Varnish Finish DVD, and it turned out great.

Wood Species: Top made from hard Maple and base made from Cherry

Project Description:
This is my very first real fine woodworking project. One day a few months ago my wife had put her cutting board on a bar stool so it wasn’t quite so high up like it is when it is up on the kitchen counter (she’s only 5’2″). She said her arms got to tired from lifting them up so high when the cutting board was on the countertop. Right then I instantly knew I needed to make her a butcher block table for Christmas. I looked around the Internet and found this one for inspiration.

However, due to space constraints in our kitchen, I wanted to make it a little smaller (18″x18″) and I wanted it a couple inches shorter (33-34″). And I wanted the base to be made of cherry and stained to match our kitchen cabinets (I was able to order the exact stain from the cabinet company). So then I went to town in SketchUp, and with a little help from a few folks on the WTO forum and some e-mails back and forth with Marc, I came up with my design. I included my SketchUp file with all the details.

The top is 3″ thick and was made using methods similar to those in the cutting board video (Marc’s drum sander shure would have been handy!). I used mortise and tenon joinery for the aprons and stretchers, and a solid panel for the shelf. I had to put notches in the legs to allow for wood movement. The top is attached to the base with 4 #12 screws that go through oversized holes in corner blocks on the inside of the base using fender washers, allowing for any movement of the top. Also, although not shown in the SketchUp drawing, I chamfered the outside corners of the legs.

The stain was water based, so I had to pre-raise the grain on all the parts that made up the base. I also had to pre-wet the parts again when I applied the stain, or it would soak into the wood and dry almost instantaneously, making it hard to get an even color (thanks Marc for that tip). I included a photo with the table next to a spare board left I have from the cabinet manufacturer that shows how well the base ended up matching our cabinet color.

Lastly, I installed a set of bronze colored casters that I got from Home Depot.

The last photo shows my other holiday project entry sitting on top of the table. As if I wasn’t busy enough making this table, I added the serving tray to the mix as a second woodworking gift for my wife.

This project took me a couple of months to build (I just finished it today, only a week before Christmas), and I’ve learned a ton along the way. I want to give an extra special thanks to Marc who answered every one of my numerous questions throughout the whole process (I guess it pays to be a Guild member).