Modern Cherry Butcher Block
One of my buddies has been looking for a butcher block for a long time and has been unable to find something that really fit his eye. We grew up together and he said he wanted something that looked like the one in my mom's house and luckily, I had made something similar a couple months ago for another friend. This one is 36” tall instead of 32-34” like many butcher blocks but he said he’d rather have it at counter height.
The “client” also requested a wood with some color that would get darker over time and cherry seemed to be the obvious choice. I bought most of the lumber from a small supplier who usually only carries domestic stock, but I found a nice piece of jatoba in his barn that was 2 1/4” thick, 4” wide and 10 feet long. He sold it to me for $18, which helped counteract the fact that I paid $10 a lineal foot for the 2.5” square leg stock that I ended up wrapping with 3/4” material on two sides anyway. Time was of the essence and it probably saved me from spending another half day on the project, you live and you learn.
While gluing up the top, I didn’t notice that there was a little bit of planer snipe on one of the pieces of jatoba until it was too late, so I threw in a quick, irregularly shaped butterfly key just in case the gap tried to open up further down the road.
There is a knife slot on one of the sides but I didn’t include any hardware for hanging a towel since the floating top allows you to drape it over the apron.
The sides/aprons have oversized finger joints that are screwed together and to the legs, and along with the stretchers/shelf supports on the bottom, create a nice, solid base. The top is attached to the legs via 1” maple dowels. I drilled 1 1/4” deep holes into the top of the legs with a 1” forstner bit and cut the dowels off at 2” in length. I then drilled corresponding 3/4” deep holes in the top with a 1 1/8” bit, allowing a margin for error and some room for the expansion and contraction of the top.
The final touch, and the one that I feel makes this “modern” butcher block is the use of 1/2” aluminum dowels to support the lower shelf and plug the screw holes. I used a quick zero clearance jig made out of MDF to cut them on the chop saw and although it took quite a while to make them, I think it adds a distinct touch to the piece. They are slightly proud of the surface, giving it a bit of an industrial feel.
It is finished with Watco Butcher Block Oil.