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Thread: Thin butcher block boards?

  1. #1

    Thin butcher block boards?

    I had a customer ask me about making her thin -- 3/4, 5/8, and 1/2" thick butcher block boards. Offhand I don't think this is a real good idea. I suppose the boards would be prone to breakage due to the wood/glue ratio being quite low. Has anyone ever heard of/made thin butcher block boards? How are they holding up? I'd make mine out of 4/4 maple.
    Thx

  2. #2
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    Is she going to get the thin boards wet, like she's chopping vegetables on them? She'd be getting only only one face wet, so thicker boards have more resistance to cupping.

  3. #3
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    I made a 3/4Ē one for my wife using some beautifully figured scraps. Itís all I had and I didnít want to throw it away. After 4 years it still looks perfect. I donít think I would go thinner just because Iíd worry about warping, but no way Iíd worry about the glue if done properly.

  4. #4
    Yep, warping of thinner boards is what I was worried about, along with the glueup ability of the woodworker!

  5. #5
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    Are these end grain, edge grain, or face grain? End grain butcher blocks would do wild things when exposed to moisture if they are that thin. Face grain or edge grain in the 3/4" range should be relatively fine. Everything is relative to proportion, i think. How large are these boards? A 12" by 12" by 5/8" edge grain board most likely wont cup too severely. A 24" by 24" by 5/8" will move considerably more. If you are making trivet-size boards, then i wouldnt be too worried about 3/4" unless you are making 15"+ boards. I have a bunch of walnut trivets/hot plates that are 1/2" to 5/8" and they are still fairly flat. They arent used as cutting boards--i have plenty of end grain surface for cutting--but they are washed and dried. Additionally, they are subjected to 400+ degree pans/pots to one face and not the other.

  6. #6
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    I made one years ago out of 3/4" oak and walnut, at the same time I made a matching knife block for LOML. She loved the look of the contrasting wood. The cutting board was a pull-out in our kitchen cabinet. It held up for years with no signs of warping. However, the cutting scars were always present. I usually washed it about once a week. Every so often, I'd sand off the rough cutting scars and re-apply mineral oil to renew it. We have since remodeled the kitchen and the pull-out was not part of the new design. I simply trimmed it down and it now serves nicely as a charcuterie board.
    IMG_4393.jpgIMG_4387.jpg

  7. #7
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    Personally, I think those huge thick cutting boards are ridiculous. We never butcher a hog on our kitchen counter and I see no need for them. 95% of time we use a little board that is 5x12x3/4" board. If you pass on the information to dry the board by wiping it off and standing it vertically to allow air all around it, I see no issues with thinner boards. Send her those instructions in an email so you have a record of telling her if something goes bad.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Coers View Post
    Personally, I think those huge thick cutting boards are ridiculous. We never butcher a hog on our kitchen counter and I see no need for them. 95% of time we use a little board that is 5x12x3/4" board. If you pass on the information to dry the board by wiping it off and standing it vertically to allow air all around it, I see no issues with thinner boards. Send her those instructions in an email so you have a record of telling her if something goes bad.
    Well said Richard. The reason I made one for my wife, a master chef, is because she hated the thick 1-1/4" one she bought. According to her, "it was too damn heavy".

  9. #9
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    If they're end grain (which is what butcher block means, as far as I know) then I would not want to go nearly that thin. If they're glued up from blocks of wood with the grain running the length of the board I am sure 3/4" would be fine, as long as the board isn't too big, and the thin ones could be fine for mini boards. I personally wouldn't want to go wider than maybe 9 or 10 inches at 3/4", or 5 or 6 inches for 1/2", but that may be overly cautious.

  10. #10
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    Butcher block a wooden top, specifically intended for cutting/chopping food. The grain direction/orientation is irrelevant.

  11. #11
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    Historically, 'butcher block' meant end grain orientation that was incredibly thick, 12"+. If you have seen these 100 year old boards, they are severely dished in the middle from heavy cleaver strikes. Contemporary 'butcher block' references any wooden surface in the kitchen, i feel. It is typically sold as end grain, edge grain(aka flat sawn rips glued up into a blank to produce a rift/quarter grain), and face grain/flat sawn. And yes, Richard, you are correct that not many people are butchering whole hogs. However, I routinely cut apart 10-12 whole chickens every other month. My local chicken farmer is a smaller outfit and doesnt take his birds to the slaughterhouse every month. It also means I can only buy whole birds, which i have to break down into specific cuts. In this case, i will admit that my 20"x32"x3" end grain board is barely sufficient for most of my cutting needs. To each his own, but if you have moderate to high end knives(think very hard brittle japanese steel), and you routinely cook, then i think you might be surprised how much you enjoy a ridiculous end grain board. You should trade in that postage stamp you currently work on and give it a shot : )

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Coers View Post
    Personally, I think those huge thick cutting boards are ridiculous. We never butcher a hog on our kitchen counter and I see no need for them. 95% of time we use a little board that is 5x12x3/4" board. If you pass on the information to dry the board by wiping it off and standing it vertically to allow air all around it, I see no issues with thinner boards. Send her those instructions in an email so you have a record of telling her if something goes bad.
    I like bigger, heavier cutting boards because they give me room to carve a large chicken, a large ham or many different vegetables. And because it's big and heavy it doesn't move while I'm using it. But I can certainly understand why some people would prefer a smaller, lighter cutting board.

  13. #13
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    After my wife complained the 1 to 1-1/2" edge grain cutting boards I made were too heavy, I made one out of maple and cherry that's 5/8" thick by about 12 x 18". It's about 10 years old now. It cups from moisture, then flattens out again when it dries out, but the joints haven't split. If they do, I'll make here another. 90% of the time she's the one using it. Whatever makes her happy works for me.

    John

  14. #14
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    When you say butcher I think end grain. I would keep them 1-1/2" minimum But I have made a bunch of 3/4 edge/face frame boards and short of people not following care instructions nothing has ever went wrong after 80 or so. I had 3 go on me all 3 the people were soaking them or in 1 instance she ran it in the dishwasher

  15. #15
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    Butcher block and thin doesn't make sense.
    I think they meant thin cutting board.
    I always connect Butcher blocks with a meat cleaver. That's what my grandpa used to chop up rabbits. His block was at least a foot thick.
    Good luck

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