Glue Choice for Butcher-Block Wood Counter

Thoughts on adhesive choice and also in-service care and maintenance for a solid wood countertop. January 20, 2011

What type of adhesive and finish should I use in a butcher block kitchen counter? The species will either be cherry or walnut. My customer has a farmer's sink, which will create a high water area at the cutout for the sink.

Forum Responses
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
From contributor R:
I built maple butcher block counters for my home in NH years ago. I used Titebond III and it worked quite well. But these were my counters and I knew the treatment they would get. If I were doing it for a client, I would probably use epoxy just so I'd not have to worry about it.

From contributor J:
I wouldn't do it with the farmers sink, unless it rims the ends so there isn't a bunch of end grain exposed to all that water. Still, I'd have to strongly advise against it and have the customer sign off if they want to go ahead.

For adhesive, I'd use Titebond 3. In cherry or maple, I'd just buy it. Those are both stock species for Boos block. It's just about cheaper than you can buy the material for, and then the warranty is on them.

From contributor E:
I used Titebond to make the countertops for my house and haven't had any problems with it, though it's only been about 3 years. For the finish you may want to look into some of the two-part poly finishes. I just used Euro X by ML Campbell for a top on a wine bar and it's supposed to be pretty tough.

For my own top I used a waterborne finish that was highly rated, but I have had a couple problems in areas so I wouldn't use it again. The irony is I have a farmers sink also and the end grain around it still looks like new. Contrary to a lot of the advice I hear, the end grain has not been any problem at all. Though again it's only been about 3 years.

From contributor B:
I'd have to pretty much ditto contributor J's response. That end grain next to the sink is scary unless the sink is rimming somehow. Even so, not the best place for a wood top. Also, try to get them to choose a species you can purchase the top in. Boos and Bally have built a lot of these already. They're pre-finished with an FDA-approved goop, and also, if you go with Bally, they market a product (called The Good Stuff) for you to use on any cuts you make. It's a gel/paste - get a pint, use it, present it to the homeowner the day you collect the final check!

From contributor J:
I installed some maple tops a couple weeks back. They were purchased from Boos, oiled. I did my joinery stuff, sanded them, and sprayed on 4 or 5 coats of a water based floor finish. I rubbed out the finish, installed the job and they look great.

I got an email a couple weeks later from the client saying she's got a spot from some coffee that was spilled and sat there a while. I have the sink cut out and have been experimenting with it. I've left beets and pomegranate juice on it for hours and it wipes right off.

Am I justified in taking care of her spot and telling her to be more careful?? I did look at the Boos and Bally sites and neither claim anything about stain resistance for their varnished type finish. What to do?

From contributor B:
Contributor J, this is precisely the issue that the end user needs to be aware of with this sort of project. A wood countertop is neither a throwaway item, nor is it impervious to neglect. The owner needs to know that he/she is assuming custody and care of a living, breathing family member that does not deserve neglect. You can bet this same client wouldn't have left a coffee mug on the hood of the Maserati. I would fix the oops, but not feel at all out of place in giving a lecture (humor goes a long way in situations like this). Good thing you kept the cut-out - those usually get made into gift cutting boards around here.

From contributor A:
Other than the difficultly of application, is there a reason why one could not use an epoxy finish like William Garvey (UK) does for his teak kitchen sinks or the fellow that built the wood tub here?

From contributor J:
It would be a different look, but I'm sure it would be a good option. I think the main issue is people wanting wood counters but still treating them as plastic laminate.

From contributor T:
To the original questioner: If you build it yourself, Titebond III is the only Titebond that claims to be waterproof right there on the bottle. But I think the most important advice here is to educate the client about what he's getting into. Maybe even give him an owner's manual about care and feeding of this natural surface. Like Bill's Maserati, that top will need periodic maintenance, and it will need to be fixed when the maintenance schedule is not followed. One look at the Boos' website will tell you that there are a lot more things that can void the warranty than there are things that are covered.

From contributor I:
I would use epoxy for the joinery. I did a maple butcher block with Titebond III not too long ago and experienced significant creep. After letting it sit for several weeks, sanding and refinishing, I was able to eliminate the ridges. I never had that experience with epoxy.