The Skinny on Butcher Blocks: 16 Fun FAQs

From on February 19, 2008 in Kitchen Remodel

There’s good news for homeowners who want to install a wood butcher block along the kitchen counter: butcher blocks come in custom shapes, including those with sink cutouts, and there are now more companies using responsibly harvested wood. Every discerning butcher block buyer needs a foundation, and this involves knowing your grains. To get you started, here are some FAQs on four butcher block styles: end grain, flat grain, edge grain, and jointed flat grain.

endgrain butchers block

End Grain


1. Looking for the perfect chef’s tool? End grain butcher blocks are recommended for chopping.

2. End grain butcher blocks are popular on the restaurant chopping block, preferred by professionals.

3. With end grain butcher blocks, numerous wood pieces are assembled together, and only the ends of the wood show. This creates a very stable surface.

4. End grain butcher blocks also keep knives sharper, absorbing their impact. The blade actually glides between wood fibers rather than crushing against them.

5. The result? End grain butcher blocks make the mark without leaving knife marks.

6. Utilizing the ends of the wood results in more color variations and unique wood patterns. Checkerboard designs, for instance, are popular with end grain butcher blocks.

end grain butchers block

Flat Grain

7. Flat grain butcher blocks use wider pieces than end grain; thus, their nickname, the wide plank top.

8. Compare the butcher block to other kitchen applications that consist of flat grain, such as table tops and bar tops.

9. Flat grains look good but aren’t as stable as end grain for heavy use.

10. A popular choice, flat grain butcher blocks are easier to manufacture and are more widespread.

edge grain butchers block

Edge Grain


11. Edge grain butcher blocks, offered by companies such as Grothouse Lumber, are sturdier than flat grain, but less so than end grain.

12. With edge grain, long, narrow strips of wood are laid out in a parallel construction to create a stable surface.

13. Edge grain butcher blocks are sometimes equated with flat grain butcher blocks.

14. Edge grain comes with or without visible joints.

15. Edge grain blocks are also used for tabletops, islands, and counters.

Jointed Flatgrain

16. Companies such as the Butcher Block Co. offer jointed flat grain construction, where the wood rails are irregularly spaced across the butcher block top. This creates a strong work surface comparable to edge grain, using full length wood rails.

Keep your butcher blocks clean with regular scraping, sanding, and monthly mineral oil treatments. For instructions, This Old House has an article on Refinishing the Butcher Block. You can treat stains with lemon juice, or with a tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide mixed with water. Dark stains can be treated with wood bleach. Look out for spilled vinegar, which is acidic enough to crack your wood along glue joints. In fact, moisture of any sort should not be left standing, as it can soften and expand your wood butcher block.

For butcher block installation, contact CalFinder for free quotes from certified kitchen contractors.