How To Make A Butcher Block From Simple Wood Strips
Wooden butcher blocks are beautiful, traditional, very useful in the kitchen and relatively easy to make youself if you know the right steps. You may already have a cutting board, but a butcher’s board is quite different. If you cook with meat a lot and wish to maintain high standards of hygiene within your kitchen, a butcher’s board can make all the difference.
Your cutting board is great for slicing vegetables and preparing salads. But you should have separate cutting surface in the form of a block or board for working on meats and fish. Using the same surface for both meat and vegetables can lead to cross contamination. It can also cause concerns for any vegetarians that live with you or come over to visit.
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If you’ve recently completed some large scale construction or DIY work around the house, this guide is perfect for you! You’ll probably already have all the leftover materials and tools necessary to complete this little project in no time! Especially if you’ve been working with edge grain wood, which is a medium strength grain that is perfect for items just like this.
Here we explain a simple step by step process of making your own butchers block from an assortment of wooden strips. Be sure to get everything on the following “Items needed” list before you begin to ensure you can follow the process smoothly and without disruption.
- Wood strips (preferably edge grain)
- Waterproof wood glue
- Table saw or Chop saw
- Butcher block ointment or finisher
Pick Wood With A Good Hardness Rating
The first thing you should do is ensure all the types of wood you plan to use have a decent hardness rating. Some examples of appropriate woods include, Maple, Mahogany, Cherry, Walnut and Hickory. Mixing and matching woods is fine, but it’s best to make sure that they are all dense enough and hardy.
Saw All Strips Down To Matching Sizes
Your strips all need to be in the same dimensions. This is where you will need to use your Table or Chop saw. A decent size width to aim for is around 1 x 2 inches for each strip. This will create a nice thick block.
Be sure to measure out the lengths carefully, so that together they make the right size and shape you are aiming for. It’s not the end of the world if some strips are slightly longer or wider than others. Later in the process you will be cutting and sanding the compiled block down to size and to create flat surfaces.
Set Your Clamps Up Before Applying The Glue
You need to set your system of clamps up before you think about getting any glue involved. One of the best ways to do this, is to use a series of clamps that work together. The force needs to be applied to the sides of the strips in a way that squeeze them together securely and evenly.
To have gravity on your side, it’s best to have a system where the block is resting flat and close to the ground. You don’t want to be doing this near any carpets or rugs. It is best to have the system laying on a concrete or cement floor.
Set up the clamps so that they are lying in position to fit around the dimensions of the finished block. This way you can assemble the block into its resting position one strip at a time.
Compile the clamps around a platform that the block will lay on. If you are using two claps, spread them evenly. You don’t want them closing in on just the ends, or down the middle of the block. Three clamps spread evenly is what we would recommend.
Apply The Waterproof Glue One Strip At A Time
With the clamps and your platform in place, you can start to glue your strips together. You’ll need to apply an ample amount to each strip, and remember each connection only needs glue on one side!
Do not worry about getting enough glue on each surface or towards the edges of the strips. As they are forced together the glue will spread and will probably flow out as they are pressed together. Apply too much and you’ll just have excessive amounts of glue to clean up.
Place the first strip down on the platform without any glue. The next strip needs glue applied to just one face. Place the glued strip down on the platform with the glued face facing the first strip. Then gently push them together.
If you compile the entire block like this one strip at a time laying onto the platform, you won’t need to worry about having to move the block again once it is assembled together.
Engage Your Clamps
Once you have all the strips laying held together by the glue, you can start to tighten the clamps. As mentioned above, you need the clamps to close down on evenly spread out points. This will ensure the system applies even pressure throughout the block.
Don’t panic if you see glue pouring out from between the strips as you tighten the clamps, this is simply a sign that the amount you applied is sufficient. Once you have closed the clamps nice and tight, you can leave the glue to work. Check the instructions that come with your wood glue, it should provide an indication of appropriate waiting time.
Cut Down And Sand All Sides To Ensure They Are All Straight And Even
You might have tried to cut your strips to perfect shape in the earlier stages, but the chances are, by this stage they will still be in need of some saw cutting and a hefty amount of sanding to make them all very even. The most important surfaces to perfect are the largest sides that will be used for your butchery work. It is well worth spending a significant amount of time making these surfaces as flat, even and smooth as possible!
Clean Off All Wood Dust And Apply Your Butcher Block Ointment Or Finisher
Your block is intended for butchery, which is very moist work. It will also be washed frequently. You need to apply a quality finishing varnish or lacquer that is suitable for consumption products as well as moisture repellant. The last thing you want is a lot of moisture soaking into your block. The more moisture wood is allowed to absorb, the faster is will decay and become unusable.
The higher the quality of your ointment, the better protected your block will be from cracking, roitting and general degradation. This is not an element within this process where it is a good idea to try and skimp out to save money. What you want, is a high quality butcher oil that is highly regarded and made specifically for such surfaces.
Its best to use a wide paint brush to spread an ample application of ointment over all of the blocks sides. It is important to ensure all surfaces of the block are well covered. Just as the ointment bottle instructions will explain to you, one coat is not enough. You’ll need multiple coats to ensure this quantity of wood is properly soaked. Apply a coat, then wait for a few hours to let it seap in, before then proceeding to apply another.
Enjoy The Benefits Of A Home Made Butchers Board!
That’s it! You should continue to apply enough coats of ointment until you are happy with how the block looks. Then you are done! This process is one of the easiest ways to create your own butchers block from really affordable or leftover materials.
One of the best features of having a block like this, is the fact that if you use it until it starts to wear down and lose its pristine surfaces, there’s nothing stopping you from sanding it down and adding more ointment. This way your beautiful home made butchers block can last you years or even decades without the need for you to buy a new one!