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  1. #1
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    Feb 2006
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    Higginsville, MO, USA.
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    Wood for Butcher Block

    I'm thinking of building a kitchen island and putting a cutting board top on it. I know that maple is the best type of hardwood to use because of its hardness and fine grain, but where I live the only two woods I can find at any of the lumber yards are red oak and poplar. I've scoured the web, and found nothing regarding poplar as a wood for cutting boards. Is this because poplar is too soft, or flavors the food?

  2. #2
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    Dec 2005
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    Winfield, Missouri, USA.
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    RE: Wood for Butcher Block

    See if you can find a sawmill in the area. They may have maple. I live on the eastern side of MO (near St. Charles) and there are several places to buy maple.

  3. #3
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    Cedar Park, TX, US of A.
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    RE: Wood for Butcher Block

    If we knew where you lived (general geographical area if you're concerned) we might be able to point you to someplace to get maple. Ain't hardly no maple tree around me here in Central Texas, but the wood stores all carry it. Check the yellow pages under hardwoods or the like for a full blown lumber yard. Big box stores carry very limited hardwoods at very high prices.

    Poplar is very soft for a butcher block. Traditional butcher blocks, and any that get a lot of use, are glued up such that the cutting surface is the end grain of the wood. At first glance it might seem strange, but when you cut on the long grain, you sever it and the board quickly becomes ragged and difficult to clean. Cutting into the end grain you you sort of wedge the grain apart, but it moves back in place when the wedge (your knife) is lift up.

  4. #4
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    Jan 2009
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    Wayne, Pa..
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    RE: Wood for Butcher Block

    Love your property and all its out buildings. I'm guessing you payed $27.95 for the whole spread. Here in easern Pa that would sell for about $37,000,000.

    Woodworking stores like Woodcraft sell maple for benches, at least the one I worked in did. The furniture store I work in sells maple cutting boards and kitchen surfaces, the wholesaler is Bally Block Co., here in Pa. I don't know why, but in their catalog is a listing for Michigan Maple Block Co. in Petoskey, Mi. Seems to me you should be able to find a source in just about any state, but the shipping might kill you.

    John
    John


    Did you ever think that maybe the crumb just wanted to steal our wirecutters?

  5. #5
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    Feb 2006
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    Higginsville, MO, USA.
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    RE: Wood for Butcher Block

    Well, it was a little more than $27.95, but not too much more. :p There is a Woodcrafters store in Kansas City that I can go to. I'm sure they'll have it, but they're usually so much higher in price than anyone else. I know that Menards has a variety of hardwood lumber, but the closest one to me is in Omaha. :(

    From the sounds of it, though, its either Woodcrafters or roadtrip to visit my friend in Omaha. I was really hoping to use the poplar but it doesn't sound like its going to work. Thanks for the tips.

  6. #6
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    Dec 1969
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    RE: Wood for Butcher Block

    Neither wood is a good choice for a cutting board/chopping block. Poplar is too soft and will be quickly damaged. I won't look nice in the center of your kitchen. Red oak is also not a good choice. The open pores of oak will make it difficult to clean and keep clean.

    The tradional and best choices are maple, birch and beech. These are hard, small pored woods.

    Now, you may want to re-think using a cutting board top on an center island if your intent is to really use it for cutting or chopping. It very quickly becomes scared and grungy looking even if it is an end grain design. If it is just going to be another surface and purely for show, then OK. But, it still will be a rather high maintenence surface.

  7. #7
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    Higginsville, MO, USA.
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    RE: Wood for Butcher Block

    I do intend to use it for chopping. I really enjoy cooking, and I'm in the process of remodelling the kitchen. Seemed like it would be a good idea, while I was about things, to build a rolling island/workstation where I could prep.

    If maintained correctly, about how long would a maple, end-grain sytle, butcher block last? I wouldn't mind making the workstation in a manner such that I could replace the top as needed. Would being able to flip the top over help with the longevity? That way I could cut and wear out one side, flip it over and use the other side? I'm not trying to be cheap here, just frugal. ;)

  8. #8
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    Jan 2006
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    RE: Wood for Butcher Block

    I've made many, many kitchen carts that were for actual use and several butcher blocks. The best wood to use is as said before, hard maple. Oak will probably make you sick at some point, bacteria grows in those open cells, poplar is just too soft and I would imagine would become blood-soaked.

    Maple is said to prevent bacterial growth, I don't know if this is true or not, but I do have a butcher block that has to be at least 50 years old and nobody's dead yet.

    Fortunately for you, there is a good little sawmill between you and Omaha, up near King City. I don't have a map handy, but as I recall you go east on either Z or ZZ. You'll see signs for the place and you'll go north for a few miles. It's right near a couple public hunting lands, I think Elam Bend is the name of one. I bought rock maple from him for I think two dollars bf.

  9. #9
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    Dec 2005
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    San Francisco, CA.
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    RE: Wood for Butcher Block

    Butcher block will last a good long time. Treat it regularly with mineral oil (food-safe, non-curing) and it will serve you well. Also don't leave standing water on it at any time. It'll never look new but for chopping it will outlast you.

  10. #10
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    May 2004
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    Des Plaines, Illinois, USA.
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    RE: Wood for Butcher Block

    How far are you from Olathe?

    [link:http://www.lumberliquidators.com/storelocator.asp?state=KS|Lumber Liquidators]
    David L. Velleux
    Artisan Custom Cabinetry & Woodworking (http://www.artisanccw.com)
    General Manager

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