Refurbishing a Vintage End Grain
 Professional Butcher Block

This is a true, professional butcher block that we purchased in September, 2014.  Note the double dovetail and tiebolt construction.

The top is 24" X 24" X 16" thick, for a total of about 220 pounds of beautiful hard maple.  The legs are probably not original to the top. The tenons on the legs, where they fit into the holes bored into the underside of the block, are over 1/32"too small.  This is too much to be accounted for by natural wood movement.

The following pix show the process of milling the top flat and parallel to the bottom.  The milling process is followed by sanding with a belt sander, then hand sanding to 220 grit. Keep in mind that I'm removing about 1/32" per pass. Watch the "topographic map"unfold as each  pass exposes the wear pattern.

Guide rails in place, ready to start.

First pass, removing just over 1/32"

Almost there.

OK, now the top is flat.

The total amount removed was just over 5/16".  This block obviously either did not see very many years of full time use, or has been resurfaced  before.

The guide rails were set to within plus or minus 1/64" of the bottom of the block, meaning that the maximum deviation of the top from perfectly flat would be 1/32", corner to corner diagonally.  I doubt seriously if any cook, chef, butcher or baker will ever have a problem with that.

I made my cutting sled from pieces of surplus 19" telecom/server racks.  The Porter Cable router is mounted on a router table insert from Rockler.

After flattening the top, I sanded the existing finish off of the sides:

The tiebolt holes will snag and destroy a sanding belt instantly.



Detail of one of several opened joints.  The tiebolts will not pull these together:  We'll accept them as artifacts of age and use.

The bottom had been painted, appparently at the factory.  I put a coat of modern water based poly-acrylic clear finish on .

I assume this is the manufacture date.  October of 1940 makes sense, or it could be the tenth week or day of 1940.  Another option would be week or day #40 of 1910, but I don't think the block is that old.

Notice the marks from the machine used to plane  the bottom.

Detail of the leg tenon.  Note the relief cuts


Right side up, legs on, we're nearly finished.

After the first application of mineral oil.  Note that on the sides I made no attempt to remove the "character."  I just wanted to remove the finish that had been applied sometime in the past.

Detail of the double dovetail construction.  The individual pieces range from about 1" to about 5" in width.

emailLet's go Home.