Make Your Own Butcher Block Table

Chop Chop!
Create Your Own Butcher Block Table

Looking for more counter space in your kitchen? Extra room to prepare meals, store food or showcase your collectibles? A butcher block table could be the answer.

These little rolling tables are quickly gaining popularity and can be found pretty much everywhere. But what if you are looking for something a little more unique? Why not make your own?

We don't mean from scratch. Well, maybe we do! It all depends on how much you feel like putting your skills to the test. If you're looking to complete one in about a day then we recommend adding to an existing table. If you want to exercise your mind, muscles and tools, then find a pattern and make one from the ground up!

One of the best things about this project is that the possibilities are literally never-ending. You can easily pick up a rolling table (sometimes referred to as a microwave stand or cart) at any major retailer for about $50 and up. Other options include going for something a little more unique. Flea markets, estate sales and second-hand stores often have neglected furniture at discounted prices that with a little TLC, can turn out to be stellar pieces. If this is the path for you, here is what to look for:

  1. Sturdiness: Just because a piece of furniture looks great, doesn't mean it is. Test out a potential purchase by giving it a good shake. If it's wobbly or seems fragile, it's best to pass. Remember, you will be placing a heavy piece of wood or marble on top of it.
  2. Height: Remember, this piece of furniture is something you will be chopping food on, so its height is very important. Getting something too low or too high and you will never use it for its intended purpose. Also, don't forget to take into account that your new block will add a couple of inches to the overall height.
  3. Flexibility: If your piece has drawers or doors, test them. Do they open and close easily? Are they damaged? Assess whether the problems can be fixed with a little WD-40 or new hardware or if they are beyond repair. Most of these things can be fixed it's just a matter of how much time you want to invest.
  4. The Diamond in the Rough:Try to see beyond a piece's imperfections. If it is well-made, anything is possible! Sanding and a little paint can sometimes make miracles happen!

Now that you have a table in mind, it's time to think about the top. Are you looking for a true butcher block or something else? Again, the world is your oyster. There are many different kinds of materials you can place on top of the table: wood, granite, soapstone, etc. Your choice depends on the look you are going for and your budget, but here is a rundown of some of the options out there:

Wood: If you want the real butcher-block look, there are many woods to choose from, all of which vary in color and texture. A popular choice for a butcher block is a mix of woods that look stunning when placed next to one another. Wood is pretty durable and easy to clean. However, it is susceptible to staining and scratching. Be prepared to treat the wood occasionally with oil to keep it in tip-top shape. The type of wood you choose is up to you, but a hard wood such as a teak or maple is often the best choice. Be sure that when you choose your finish that it is non-toxic. You want to pay close attention to the manufacturer's recommendations as to whether or not the finish is recommended with use with food or what's sometimes referred to as, "food grade." If you're at all unsure, contact the manufacturer directly.

Marble or Granite: A popular choice for many kitchens, marble and granite are beautiful choices but expensive ones. Since you probably need just a little slab, this may be an option for you, especially if you are looking for an elegant upgrade. Like wood, these two options require regular maintenance to keep them from aging.

Soapstone: Less expensive than marble and granite, soapstone is a dark stone that can work with an antique or modern kitchen. It is pretty easy to clean, but it does need routine upkeep with mineral oil to keep it from cracking.

If you don't like any of these options, keep looking! With all of the different colors, textures and prices out there, we are fairly certain you will find what you are after.

Figure out how big you want your table top to be and have your material pre-cut - especially if you're using marble or stone. Do you want it to match up perfectly with the top of the table, or extend outwards a couple of inches? Either way, cutting stone is something we don't recommend doing yourself. Make sure to take accurate measurements to avoid headaches later. You also may want to have the slab delivered, if lifting it is a problem.

Stick to It

Once you have your table and are ready to go, it's best to figure out what kind of adhesives work best. Check in with the most knowledgeable clerk you can find at your local hardware store or home improvement center and be prepared to accurately describe the two surfaces you're joining. Wood to wood is fairly simple, while laminate surfaces will require one type of adhesive, natural stone another, etc.

Before laying down the top, make sure both surfaces are clean and dry. Follow the directions on the adhesive for the amount you will need and drying times. It's possible that you may need to attach the new top to the table with screws from underneath to hold it in place; in other cases the weight of the material itself may make an adhesive all you need.

If you do need to adhere it to the top of your table, before you dollop on the glue, make sure you know exactly how your top will go on! What we mean is, every stone and piece of wood has a right and a wrong side. Do a "dry run" first. See how the piece will fit once on the table. Perhaps you want to rotate it or have it cut down a little more.

Now You're Cooking!

Depending on what material and adhesive you choose, you may be able to use your new table to prepare tonight's dinner. If you are in need of a little more space or want a nice accent piece, think about making your very own butcher block table, or at least altering an existing table to fit your needs. This project is easy to complete and is incredibly versatile. Paint the table any color you wish, and then pick a top to complement it. The possibilities are endless, and think of the satisfaction you'll feel when you see that you created a unique piece of furniture all by yourself!

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