"Vertical" butcher block countertop?
ZZZZ
February 11, 2013 in Design Dilemma
Hi All,

I'm new to Houzz. Great site, wish I had found it years ago.

I am in the process of re-modeling a fixer-upper house and have a question concerning countertops. I want to go with butcher block counters and I have come across an opportunity to acquire enough maple to do the job at a can't resist price. It works out to about $7 a linear foot

The huge bonus is the wood is precut at 1 1/4" x 1 1/4" and coincidental they are 25" long. So, I can "lay" the strips "vertically", along the depth of the counter and perpendicular to the wall, instead of going the traditional long, horizontal direction. The major advantage I see is there will be no staggered seams in the counter, where the wood strips would normally need to be butted together at the end of strips. and It will be much easier to glue up this way.

The butcher block will run about 10' altogether, about 5' on each side of the sink. I plan to use about 12" of stone or tile on each side of the sink to minimize water damage to the wood from splashback, etc from the sink.

The butcher-block will not be used as an actual cutting surface. (I will make a couple of cutting boards out of the same stock.)

Any comments/opinions about how it will look running the butcher block the depth of the counter instead of along the horizontal length of the counter? Will it just look weird or too unconventional for a future buyer of the house? I had a glance through some of the photos on file here at Houzz but I ddin't see any examples of it done this way.

Thanks.
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Eagledzines
I think it would look strange to have them laid vertically. Of course if you did that you would have to put an edge on them to give it a finished look too.

Instead, I would fingerjoint them, one length at a time and glue the lengths together. You would need a shaper to do that and may have to stack two knives together to get the 1 3/4". A polyurethane glue would expand and weep into the fibers of the wood that are being glued together so there would be less chance of separation. You'd also have to have a sander that would handle the finish sanding of course too. If you didn't have the equipment for this, you could take it a woodworking mill and have them do it for you. They don't usually charge too much for doing stuff like this.

Craft Art Countertops uses a tongue oil finish on their countertops and claim they have no problems around sinks at all. The finish is quite thick. I used one of theirs on one of my jobs and didn't have any problems with it.
February 14, 2013 at 2:25pm   
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Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
Can you lay some out on your countertop without installing them and take a photo to show us how they look. It sounds pretty neat to me, but eagledzines seems very knowledgeable about them.
February 14, 2013 at 2:47pm   
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Phil Pezzuti
I thinkk your project lends it self well to a slightly thicker board surrouding each butcher block pattern, maybe darker or closer in tonal quality. Never the less it would allow you the opportunity to join the patterns seamlessly in the front of the sink. Pezz
February 14, 2013 at 3:05pm   
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ZZZZ
I bought the butcher block strips yesterday. Somebody had bought all the 25" lengths strips, but I was able to buy 31" long strips for the same bargain price. So, I think I will go ahead and lay them the standard, long way.

The kitchen isn't demo'd yet. The wall to the right of the sink will be taken out and the counter extended to about 6' on each side of the sink.

But here is what they look like. They should be beautiful when glued up, sanded and finished.

Thanks for the feedback so far.

ZZZZ
February 16, 2013 at 10:07am   
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Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
Will you lay them in random style so that all the ends aren't in one place?
February 16, 2013 at 1:54pm   
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ZZZZ
Right, I will cut some of the strips down to various sizes so the butt-joints will be staggered.

It is just one of those pure coincidences that the existing counter is 31" to the right of the sink.
February 16, 2013 at 2:29pm   
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Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
Then it should look great! But of course we'll want to see it!!
February 16, 2013 at 2:35pm   
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ZZZZ
Check back to this thread in a couple of months. :-)
February 16, 2013 at 2:37pm   
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Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
Will do! Houzz will send me any new postings.
February 16, 2013 at 2:53pm   
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A Kitchen That Works LLC
The idea of putting tile or stone on either side of the sink, to protect the butcher block, has merit, however remember that wood moves with changes in het and humidity, so make sure you provide expansion joints where the two materials meet, especially if there is a dishwasher underneath.
February 16, 2013 at 4:52pm   
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Eagledzines
Just a few more thoughts.

I wouldn't glue butt joints. When you fingerjoint them you provide a much, much larger area of glue to hold them together. To illustrate: if you take a 3" string and lay if straight, you have a 3" string. If you lay out a piece of string in 3" sections 3 times, you will have an 18"string. Think of the those strings as a glue line. That's why fingerjointing is so much stronger, because there are many lengths for the glue.

It will also be stronger if you stagger the joints. If you lay up your wood in lengths first and then glue your lengths together you can stagger the joints, when it is all glued up and sanded, then just cut off the excess at each end.

Make sure that all of the pieces are facing up (edge) or flat (plank) the same way. Because, they are going to expand and contract on the flat or plank side. If you lay them up randomly, they will expand differently.

Edge laid will be a harder surface and you won't have the expansion problems that you would have with plank laid because when wood expands it expands in the width of the grain. So if the width of the grain is top to bottom (edge laid) that is the direction it will expand--thicker--not wider.

Also, make sure the sink is caulked and it wouldn't hurt to seal around any cut edge such as the sink cut-out. Seal the bottom equally with the top.
February 16, 2013 at 5:13pm   
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Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
You are so fortunate, ZZZZ, to have someone who is really in the know giving you such valuable information!
February 16, 2013 at 5:23pm   
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