End Grain Up
Bring butcher's block out of the kitchen with these design and construction tips
Synopsis: Mark Koons takes butcher’s block construction out of the kitchen and into the realm of fine furniture, opening up new design horizons in the process. But before you start building, read his advice. Working with end grain up takes a good deal of planning, consideration of wood movement, and repetitive steps. Koons’s process involves two big glue-ups: a long grain glue-up and then an end-grain glue-up. Basically, he glues sticks together, surfaces and crosscuts them, and then reglues them as end grain. Follow his tips for harnessing wood movement and keeping the pieces in order, and you’ll soon be building end-grain furniture with striking color, depth, and interest.
From Fine Woodworking #205
I started working with end grain because it packs an intense visual punch and gave me a use for scrap pieces that would otherwise have been discarded. End grain also allows me to use domestic woods with renewed interest because it brings out different grain features and colors than can be seen in the long grain. I also discovered that end-grain slabs allow unique furniture forms (see “Add an apron and legs,” p. 78) that wouldn’t be possible with long-grain construction.
End grain creates a very durable tabletop. Butcherblock countertops wear out knives before they need resurfacing, and finishes can wick deep beneath the surface of end grain, adding to its imperviousness. Of course, this quality isn’t as important in a coffee table as it is in a countertop, but is it ever a problem to have a tabletop that’s too durable?
Working with end grain up takes a good deal of planning, consideration of wood movement, and repetitive steps. But the results are worth the effort. I use end-grain construction in kitchenware, but this type of construction can be just as beautiful…