I would love to have a Butcher Block but…

October 7th, 2007 § 3 Comments

…I am afraid of the maintenance. So say many clients who love the look but not the maintenance. Well, the truth about wood is that periodic maintenance is required. But the benefits soon out weigh the drawbacks if you are a cook.

Personal Chef Sally Cameron selected butcher block as a key element designed into her island.

“I wanted a big chopping block because it gives me a lot of work space. My large (57-by-18-inch) cutting board is made of end-cut, solid black walnut from a company called Spekva. We had the bottom routed out so it would drop in a stay in place, yet I can lift it out to turn it around to spread the wear, or have it sanded if needed in a few years. All I do is oil it once a week. It takes a lot of abuse.”

For full article and design info, click on OC Register Link here.
For a full walk thru of Chef Sally’s kitchen, click on the Video link.

A dark wood butcher block island acts as a counterbalance to the classic white cabinetry and dark stained wide plank wood floors.

Wood radiates warmth and is an ideal surface not only for chopping, but also as a dining surface. What better place to rest your hands on while enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning. Sure beats the chill of granite!

A good tip before you order your butcher block is to know the difference in finishes available for your wood top. The one shown in this picture has a lacquer finish and should never be used for chopping. Also key words to watch for: semi-gloss and varnique will be a tip off to watch out for. A penetrating oil finish is what you need if you want to chop on your wood top.

Additional tips from Boos Blocks in selecting your wood top:


John Boos & Co. offers two unique finishes. One is perfect for your application.

Penetrating Oil: If you wish to use your butcher block top as a cutting surface, this is the only finish to purchase. Just like cutting boards and butcher blocks, the natural wood surface is protected by oil, which is actually absorbed into the fibers. It is advisable to periodically re-oil your butcher block tops to preserve their beauty and durability. If, after heavy usage, you wish to remove cut marks, just sand off the top and re-oil. It will look like new.

Varnique: This beautiful semi-gloss finish is virtually maintenance free. It is impervious to most household chemicals. Cleans up easily with mild soap and water. The fine furniture look makes it the choice for kitchen island bars and eating counters. Cuts into the finish should be resealed immediately to prevent the exposed wood from absorbing moisture. John Boos EZ-DO a wipe on poly gel is recommended for use.

A smart idea in leveled work surfaces. Chopping Block surface installed 30″ – 32″.

Conceptual Design of an Unfitted Boos Block set at one of an island.

For small space design consider a smaller butcher block that can be routed into the counter top and easy to remove for cleaning. Photo courtesy of http://www.smallbone.co.uk/

Clever installation shown here. The Peninsula is wrapped on the seating side with wood counters and is expertly seamed into the granite on the sink side.

Butcher Block can add whimsy to your kitchen too!
This is Maple Hardwood and Wenge Checker Board.
Photo courtesy of http://www.craft-art.com

Craft-Art’s eight new green counter top offerings: wood reclaimed from old barns, mills, river bottoms, swamps and even pickle vats. Species include quarter-sawn antique heart pine (shown here), sinker cypress, antique white oak, pickle vat redwood, barn red oak, barn white oak, American chestnut and tobacco barn beech.


Periodically (once every several weeks, depending upon the use and household conditions), apply an even coat of mineral oil or Boos Mystery Oil to the work surface of your butcher block. Sponge on with a rag!

  1. DO NOT allow moisture of any type to stand on the block for long periods of time. Don’t let fresh, wet meats lay on the block longer than necessary. Brine, water and blood contain much moisture, which soaks into the wood, causing the block to expand, the wood to soften, and affects the strength, of the glued joints.

  2. Use a good steel scraper or spatula several times a day, as necessary, to keep the cutting surface clean and sanitary. Do not use a steel brush on the cutting surface of your block.

  3. DO NOT cut fish or fowl on the work surface of your butcher block, unless you have thoroughly followed the instructions in step #1…as the moisture barrier must be intact prior to cutting any type of fish, seafood, or fowl on the work surface of your butcher block. ALWAYS CLEAN THE BLOCK THOROUGHLY AFTER CUTTING FISH OR FOWL ON THE WORK SURFACE.

  4. Be sure NEVER to cut continuously in the same place on the top of your block. Distribute your cutting over the entire work surface so that it will wear evenly. DON’T use a razor-edged cleaver. It will chip or splinter the wood and produce soft spots. Your cleaver should have dull sharpened edge for best results.

  5. NEVER wash your block with harsh detergents of any type. DON’T wash your butcher’s tools on your block.

  6. At the conclusion of a day’s work preparing meat or food on your butcher block, scraping the block will remove 75% of the moisture. After scraping, immediately dry thoroughly with an absorbent towel. This assures an odorless, clean cutting surface for the next day, and prevents premature quick deterioration of the work surface.

  7. Maintain the same bevel on the edge of your block, as it had when you bought it. This prevents splitting or chipping of outside boards.

  8. Your block, should be turned over periodically to allow even usage to both work surfaces.

Note: Butcher Block cutting boards are not dishwasher compatible.


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§ 3 Responses to I would love to have a Butcher Block but…

  • ennistbp says:

    Tip: Make sure your wood block is designed for chopping. I bought a large BOOS freestanding wood/stainless steel island only to find the wood was sealed and not to be cut on. Non-refundable item.

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  • Kitchen Design Notes says:

    Very true and a good point for anyone buying a butcher block. It’s too bad the store you bought it from didn’t ask how you would be using yours. I prefer the unsealed type for that very reason. The sealed type works fine for those who want little to do with mtc. and never plan on chopping on it. It’s for looks only.

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  • Anonymous says:

    I see several fine companies listed as resources for Butcher Block. However the oldest and largest Butcher Block Company in the world seemed to be absent. Michigan Maple Block Co. pioneered Butcher Block back in 1881 and has been producing it ever since. You can see this companies offering at http://www.butcherblock.com

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