Butcher block countertops are often used in garages. They make great work surfaces when you want something strong and durable, and they can be easily refinished years later to freshen them up. Metal work surfaces are great when you use chemicals often, like oils and brake cleaner, or if you’re doing things like welding. Butcher block is a great surface when you’re working on things like fishing reels or guns, where you don’t want to scratch up what you’re working on.

We carry what is called an industrial butcher board that is made in the USA. The name can be a bit deceiving since there is no difference in strength between the different styles. The difference is the amount of pieces of wood per band of the board. With the butcher board we carry, there are more pieces of wood per band. You’ll pay a lot more money to have less pieces of wood per band, and the only real difference is the appearance of the final board. Arguably, the more pieces of wood actually give the board a nicer look with more characteristics of the additional natural grains. The real difference is only a matter of opinion.

The Finish

If you want to use the butcher board we have in the kitchen, that is not a problem. The finish is a food grade safe coating, and we have had many people over the years install it in their high end kitchens too. The coating is a clear satin acrylic finish called Durakryl 102. It doesn't really require any maintenance. It will repel most common household solvents, and stains can be cleaned off with fingernail polish remover or bleach. If you are using the top in the kitchen as a cutting surface, you should periodically re-seal the area where you have been cutting with mineral oil or Emmet's Elixir Wood Conditioner. If after years of heavy usage you'd like to refinish your top, you should sand the surface and reseal it with Good Stuff urethane gel clear protective finish.

Expansion and Contraction

The wood in butcher board tops will naturally retain moisture. When the butcher board is made it contains 6 percent moisture. During shipping, this moisture content can change, and if the moisture change is not even, the top may appear warped. This is a temporary problem though, once the moisture content is evened out the top will straighten out. It's best to put the top in an area where it is allowed to breath evenly on all sides so that the moisture can balance. Once the countertop moisture has balanced, you will see it is straight again.

Mounting the Countertop

Butcher block can change in size as much as 3/16 of an inch depending on the moisture in the air. If you are mounting your top to a base, you will want to allow the top some movement so it can expand and contract. The overall length of the butcher block is a stable measurement, but the depth needs to be given allowances to move. There are many different ways to allow for this movement, but one of the easiest is to drill a hole that is larger than the mounting screw into the base, and screw into the top through the base using a washer on the screw screw head. This allows for some movement of the top and will prevent stress points as the wood expands and contracts also preventing any warping.

You also need to allow for air movement on the underside of the butcher block. If you are placing the top on a solid surface, place some washers on the underside to allow at least a 1/16 inch gap from the surface below so that air can move and moisture can remain stable in the butcher board. Do not use a sealant like caulk on the butcher block, it will both prevent air movement and crack over time as the wood moves. Also if you are mounting the butcher block next to a wall, make sure you give enough of a gap so that the top can expand without binding against the wall.

Cutting the Butcher Board

If you are cutting your butcher board top for either making a size adjustment or adding in things like sinks, you will want to refinish the cut edge immediately to prevent any potential cracking along the glue lines. Use a lacquer or polyurethane finish; do not use oil as it will not provide a permanent seal.

Butcher block is a great surface for garage workbenches. The wood allows you to work on your garage projects without having to worry about scratching them on the countertop. The wood is extremely strong ready to take on whatever project you may place on top of it. And after years of service, you can always give it a quick sanding and refinish it to make it look like new again. If you have any questions about butcher board, please feel free to contact us on the phone at 800-736-9308 or by email.