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Walnut butcher block island top.5/3/18
I’m doing a kitchen, and the homeowner is interested in a walnut endgrain top for the island. The dimensions are around 66”x42”. It will have a drop in dual fuel range.
I plan to do the glue up in 3”x3” blocks, staggered and alternating grain, 1 1/2” thick, using west system for the open time. I then plan to seal the pores with epoxy, letting it wick in, and sanding the top layer back off, so that the surface will still take some oil. My thinking is this will help keep it stable in case liquids are left standing for any amount of time.
I know historically threaded rods were installed through many of the better butcher block tops. Are these necessary with today’s adhesives? We have come a long way since hide glue.
If my thinking is off in any way, or anyone has some advice to offer, please comment. I think this too would compliment the space beautifully. I just don’t want to be remaking it in a couple years.
My opinion, you'll have trouble with the 3x3 blocks. Harder to get good kiln dried thick stock, and likely more movement in the wood if it gets too close to the pith. I will not use steel to try and tame the rules of nature. After the wood swells in the summer a couple of times, the wood cells under the nuts and washers are crushed. Unless the customer loosens and tightens the nuts with seasonal change, they will become useless. That's why I provide a "lug wrench" to tighten bed bolts.
3x3 are too big.
We use 8/4 material. Epoxy it together. Nothing else holds it together.
I definitely appreciate the comments. I’ll plan on downsizing it to 1 1/2” blocks.
It sounds like you are planning to just cut little blocks that you try to corral some way.
For this, I think you could use TB 3 and may get a better joint than epoxy.
As for the thin penetrating epoxy, I'm sold on the Smith CPES. It soaks in better than any other that I've tried, especially that which I've thinned down myself. When I use it, I'm already sanded at least to 150, then only go to 220 after it's dry. Then one coat of Minwax wipe on looks like about 8 or more coats of normal wipe on.
The above mentioned product is expensive, but for what it saves in the following schedule, it's worth it.
A couple of years ago, I had finished a table top veneered with fiddleback Sapele that I had first sealed with Smith's CPES, then followed with SWP pre-cat. I was away for a long weekend, then came home to find I'd had a roof leak two days earlier that left a big puddle on on the top. I was dumbstruck when I saw it, expecting to have to start over. But when I wiped it dry, I was laughing out loud when I could't even tell there was any evidence.
I'd soak / seal both sides, and make sure it is well supported underneath because all the short grain with that big cutout hanging on it will need all the help it can get.
I definitely plan to glue up and cross cut as much as I can. I’m not ambitious enough to mess with the small blocks.
I was just reading up on the smith product, and that sounds like some good stuff. Perfect for what I’m looking for actually. They call out a schedule for sealing, sanding, and applying an oil finish. The homeowners are really looking for that oil rubbed look, and they plan to maintain it, but I feel much more comfortable knowing something has penetrated those end pores. I know how messy I can get when I cook.
I do quite a bit of restoration stuff as well, and can see using this product a lot in the future. I definitely appreciate it.
Use epoxy as the glue.
West System will wick into the wood as long as you keep applying it.
I think you're on the right track. Glue your boards up with some semblance of a pattern. TB III is the glue most cutting board makers use. It has a longer open time than TB II. I too have been using Smith's CPES for years. It is an excellent primer for all paints and varnishes. So much so, they have rebranded it as "Multi Wood Prime". It also stabilizes deteriorating bricks and concrete. Make sure you do all sides with the CPES to keep it balanced. West Systems does not penetrate like Smith's. Smith's also has 2 types of epoxy glues. The oily wood epoxy glue contradicts all you have ever heard about wiping down with solvents before gluing. Their glue actually uses the oils in the wood to its advantage. Steve Smith is one smart cookie. I can't say enough about their products.