Our Custom Wood Countertops Blog features the industry’s most talented and innovative designers throughout the United States and abroad. This featured kitchen includes a Wenge and Cherry Checkerboard Butcher Block designed by Andy Foster of Foster Custom Kitchens.
About the Designer: Andy Foster, an accomplished kitchen and bath designer, has been a cabinetmaker for over 40 years. He began woodworking as a hobby shortly after college, and it soon became a passion and a profession. In 1987, after over a decade of commercial woodworking in several venues, he founded Foster Custom Kitchens. What stands out about Andy is his knowledge of and experience in all phases of project development, including design, fabrication, installation, giving him a unique perspective of the process involved in creating a new or remodeled space.
A Tip from Andy: The downstairs of this home has Douglas fir walls, ceilings and beams. The owners chose beautiful rustic cherry for the surrounding cabinetry, and wanted a wooden countertop for their distressed, black, painted cherry island. We were concerned that adding a planked wood grain to the mix would be a little over the top. Choosing a contrasting, end-grain checkerboard pattern of Wenge and Cherry made the island “pop” and tied the painted and natural woods together.
RICKI conducts a study among 1,000 U.S. homeowners each quarter. The research gathered is then made available to Professional and Executive level RICKI members. The studies gauge consumer sentiment regarding kitchen and bath renovations, planned purchases of kitchen and bath products, and other relevant and timely measures.
For this study, they asked the question, “Do you have an island in your kitchen at home? IF YES, How often do you use your island for the following kitchen island activities?” The data collected showed that butcher blocks are the perfect kitchen island countertop based on the top 5 most frequent kitchen island activities.
Around three in ten homeowners have an island in their kitchen. Almost two in three say that they are frequently preparing food on their kitchen islands and cutting and mixing ingredients. Kitchen islands are also used frequently when socializing with friends and family.
In order for all of these activities to take place, the kitchen island must have a durable, comfortable, and inviting countertop surface. Grothouse Butcher Blocks crafted in End Grain construction style are the number 1 preferred kitchen island countertop surface – especially by chefs. This is because the construction style of the surface is kindest to knives and keeps them sharp. In addition, butcher block tend to be self-healing and most knife marks disappear after cleaning. After years of use, the butcher block can be sanded and re-oiled to look like new again.
Butcher Block Designs for Kitchen Island Activities
64 percent of homeowners use their kitchen island mostly to cut up food and mix ingredients. Butcher Blocks can be designed specifically for this use.
Plain & Fancy Cabinetry designed this kitchen island with food preparation in mind. The island features a Sapele Mahogany butcher block with an overmount sink. It is in close proximity to the refrigerator, cooktop, and main sink. The butcher block size permits plenty of space for cutting food, mixing ingredients, and even serving food.
Butcher blocks can also be designed to co-exist with other surface types or use of food preparation. Stonington Cabinetry & Designs designed this Walnut Butcher Block to match up perfectly with the marble counter. The butcher block can be used for food preparation, while the marble can be used for eating and entertaining.
For purposes of serving food, eating, and conversations with family and friends, Butcher blocks can be designed to overhang the kitchen island for a fun seating area. M & M Design, Inc. designed the Walnut with Cherry Checkerboard Pattern Butcher Block above for entertaining.
Grothouse butcher blocks were featured in an article on Angie’s List, “How Much Do Butcher Block’s Cost?” The article summarizes the definition of a butcher block, the pros and the cons, and also the cost of a butcher block.
The article states that butcher blocks consist of strips of glued hardwood. It’s been utilized for chopping blocks and cutting boards for years, and more recently, as a popular material for kitchen countertops, tables and islands.
The Grothouse definition of a butcher block is a wood surface crafted in end
grain construction. End grain construction is the construction style recommended for direct food preparation.
End grain construction consists of small wood pieces standing vertically to show only the ends of the wood. This style of butcher block is significantly harder to manufacture than other construction styles. It requires a level of skill and craftsmanship not found with most commercial suppliers. The pieces are generally random sized, although sizes will vary depending on the species and sizes of wood available at the time of manufacturing.
The Featured Grothouse Butcher Blocks
This Zebrawood Butcher Block was designed by Lisa Martin of Signature Custom Cabinetry and was on display at the on display at the 2015 Signature Custom Cabinetry Conference. It is 2-1/2″ thick and features a 1/8″ Roundover edge profile.
This butcher block features an interlocked pattern of Walnut, Maple, and White Oak. It was designed by a homeowner in New York and is 3″ thick.
Old Town Woodworking designed this 2-1/2″ thick Teak butcher block with a 1/4″ Roundover edge profile.
A Family Sized Butcher Block custom crafted by Grothouse was featured in a New York Times article, “The Closed Kitchen Makes a Comeback.” The butcher block is pictured showing Jennifer McAllister-Nevins and her family in their TriBeCa loft’s enclosed kitchen.
During a New Year’s Eve dinner party several years ago, the pipes in Jennifer McAllister-Nevins’ kitchen were suddenly blocked. All of the guests got to witness each chaotic moment as the pipes for the sink backed up because she lived in a TriBeCa apartment with an open kitchen. Because of this instance, Ms. McAllister-Nevins, who loves to entertain, now lives in a different TriBeCa loft, one with an enclosed kitchen.
Family Sized Butcher Block Designs
Overtime we have seen butcher blocks used for kitchens used by families. Butcher blocks permit areas for seating and food preparation. Butcher Blocks often become the center of the kitchen, creating a central meeting place for the whole family to enjoy.
John Troxell, Director of Design, Wood-Mode Inc. designed this large butcher block with three tiers. The butcher block is made of Cherry wood on the inside, a Wenge wood stripe, and a Walnut wood border. The tiers on either side of the butcher block are made of Walnut wood. There is plenty of space for the whole family to enjoy around this butcher block.
Plain & Fancy Cabinetry designed this Sapele Mahogany Butcher Block. This large kitchen island has plenty of space for food preparation and storage underneath. Chairs could be pulled up to the overhang to create a seating area. This space was designed with family, and convenience, in mind.
Home Supply Inc. designed this American Black Walnut Butcher Block for this large kitchen island. This kitchen island has an area for seating. By leaving some space open on the butcher block across from the oven, it creates a space for food preparation and serving.
To read the New York Times article featuring a family sized butcher block, click here. To see more designs including large butcher blocks, visit our Countertop Image Library.
Tigerwood is known for its striking figure that can range from fine lines to deep, bold lines that look like brush strokes. When Tigerwood is crafted in end grain construction to create butcher block countertops, beauty and function are combined to create the ultimate kitchen area.
Butcher block countertops crafted in end grain construction can be used for a variety of different purposes. The first, and most common, use is for food preparation. End grain construction is the preferred chopping surface by chefs because it is the kindest to knives and keeps them sharp. In addition, butcher blocks tend to be self-healing and most knife marks disappear after cleaning. If any heavy knife marks appear on the block, it can be sanded and re-finished to look like new.
Another use for butcher block countertops is an area for dining. Wood is naturally a warm material, not to mention it is kind to fine china and other tableware. Who wouldn’t want the comfort of a naturally warm, kind material to gather around with their family and friends? End grain construction style also permits the ability to make a very large table without needing seams, creating a truly colossal appearance.
The use of two Tigerwood butcher block countertops in this kitchen is quite brilliant. One butcher block can be used strictly for food preparation purposes, and the other can be used for dining purposes.
This blog post covers the butcher block pros and cons. At Grothouse, the term ‘butcher block’ refers to a wood surface crafted in End Grain Construction. End Grain is the premium construction style recommended for direct food preparation. It is the construction style of choice for upscale applications. In end grain construction, small wood pieces stand vertically to show only the ends of the wood.
Butcher Block Pros
There are far more butcher block pros than cons. To start off, a butcher block can be used for direct food preparation. This means you can cut and chop directly on the wood surface.
Knives keep their edge far better when used on butcher blocks. This is because the blade slides between the wood fibers, much like cutting into a firm brush. Cutting on hard surfaces like stone or glass can dull sharp blades.
An added benefit is that butcher blocks do not show knife marks quite as readily as surfaces crafted in other construction styles.
Any light scratches or knife marks made in the butcher block surface can be sanded off and re-oiled to look brand new!
The most popular use for butcher blocks is kitchen islands. They provide a functional work surface and unlike stone slabs, can be made any size without unsightly seams.
All Grothouse butcher blocks are finished with Grothouse Original Oil™. Grothouse Original Oil™ is a food safe oil finish. The finish requires ongoing maintenance depending on the environment and amount of use.
Butcher Block Cons
The major butcher block con is that end grain surfaces cannot be sealed with ourDurata® Waterproof Permanent Finish. Only surfaces crafted in flat grain or edge grain construction can be finished with Durata®. Durata® is a maintenance free finish. You can learn more about Durata® on our website. Because butcher blocks cannot be finished with Durata®, they cannot include a stain application.
Butcher Block Customer Reviews
We have received a great deal of positive butcher block customer reviews. Cheryl R. from Mountain Lakes, New Jersey wrote:
I just wanted to say thank you and share a few pics of the beautiful butcher block you created for us! We love it! It was supposed to be all about the function but it has become a masterful design feature!
I think it garners most of the compliments in our new kitchen! It was a pleasure working with your people from start to finish!
David L. from Santa Rosa, California said:
Although it’s been a little over a year since we did business with you, I just wanted to say thanks again for the incredible butcher block countertop you built for our new kitchen island. It is the perfect combination of beauty and function – we get lots of compliments from friends who visit.
Read more butcher block customer reviews here. Visit our websitefor more information regarding butcher block pros and cons. Visit our Pinterest to see inspiring designs including butcher blocks.
There are various patterns available for Butcher Blocks manufactured by Grothouse. The most popular pattern choice is Checkerboard. Checkerboard Butcher Blocks are a fun and appealing way to incorporate more than one wood specie into any kitchen design style.
Designing Checkerboard Butcher Blocks
The Checkerboard Pattern is only available for wood surfaces crafted in End Grain Construction, also known as Butcher Blocks. End Grain Construction is the premium construction style for direct food preparation. Below is a diagram of End Grain Butcher Block Construction. Butcher Blocks have a minimum thickness of 2 1/2 inches.
Checkerboard Butcher Blocks are designed for many different uses. The three best qualities about Checkerboard Butcher Blocks are that 1) they can always be used as a food preparation surface, 2) they can be crafted into anything, any shape or size, such as kitchen island tops, kitchen island ends, table tops – the options are limitless! and 3) you are not limited to only choosing one wood specie!
Checkerboard Butcher Blocks used for Kitchen Island Countertops
Interior Environments designed the Modern Kitchen photographed below. They went with a Maple and Wenge Checkerboard Butcher Block for the entire kitchen island top. This large kitchen island countertop measures ten feet long.This Checkerboard Butcher Block includes an Overmount Sink and provides a large surface for this client to prepare meals for the family.
M E S Mitchell Interiors, LLC designed the Traditional Kitchen photographed below. The American Cherry and Walnut Checkerboard Butcher Block has been featured in magazines and books all over the United States. The Butcher Block includes a Medium Roman Ogee Edge Profile on the top horizontal edges, adding a Traditional flare.
Jenny’s Design Build designed the Butcher Block in the photograph below. Instead of designing the Checkerboard Pattern to be the entire countertop, they designed the Checkerboard to be a border around the Butcher Block. The center of the countertop is crafted of Beech. The Checkerboard Border includes Beech, Wenge, and Walnut. This design requires exact precision to line up the pieces. The Checkerboard Border of the Butcher Block compliments the Checkerboard lighting and other Checkerboard pieces throughout the kitchen.
Checkerboard Butcher Blocks used for Kitchen Island Ends
Checkerboard Butcher Blocks can also be designed for use as Kitchen Island Ends. Blue Bell Kitchens designed the Eclectic kitchen in the following photograph.They incorporated a Cherry and Maple Checkerboard Butcher Block as the Kitchen Island End. This award winning kitchen design boasts ample work space combined with an antique feel.
In Detail Interiors designed the Modern Kitchen shown below. This modern kitchen design is crisp, warm and clean. The kitchen island is flanked by a Cherry and Walnut Checkerboard Butcher Block that is lowered for comfort while chopping. The Walnut in the Butcher Block compliments the chocolate colored cabinetry.
Checkerboard Butcher Blocks used for Tables
Checkerboard Butcher Blocks are also designed to be used as Tables. Chris Benner designed the Maple and Walnut Checkerboard Butcher Block Table photographed below. The table provides a warm and inviting space to enjoy meals.
The Checkerboard Butcher Block Table design shown in the photograph below was a challenge; we call it “square peg, round hole”. It was complicated to create a square checkerboard center with a round border, especially considering the 9″ thickness required. This butcherblock table top was placed on a metal base. An eye catching and unique design for a butcher block.
Other designs and uses for Checkerboard Butcher Blocks
As mentioned previously, Checkerboard Butcher Blocks are not limited to any type of design. Beatty Lumber, Inc. designed the fun Butcher Block shown below. The Checkerboard Pattern was placed in the center of the Butcher Block as a Chess Board. The Butcher Block consists of Walnut, Wenge, and Maple.
Grothouse Original Oil™ Finish for Checkerboard Butcher Blocks
Checkerboard Butcher Blocks are always finished with Grothouse Original Oil™. End Grain Butcher Blocks cannot be finished with Durata® or have a stain application. The Grothouse Original Oil™ Finish is completely food-safe and requires ongoing maintenance; frequency depending on how often the Butcher Block is used. Oil should be applied when the block appears dry. After applying the oil, the block will appear darker. Please note that it will lighten back to the color you are used to. All Grothouse Butcher Blocks can be re-sanded to get rid of any scratches, dings, or dents. After re-sanding, apply some Grothouse Original Oil™ and the Butcher Block will look as good as new!
Grothouse Original Oil™ can be purchased on the Grothouse Online Store or at your local Grothouse Kitchen Dealer. For instructions on how to use the Grothouse Original Oil™, click here.
Butcher Block Countertops have made an increasing lead in today’s Modern Kitchen Designs. This blog will give you tips and inspiration for designing your very own Modern Butcher Block Countertop crafted by Grothouse.
Designing Modern Butcher Block Countertops
At Grothouse, the term “butcher block” refers to a countertop surface crafted in End Grain Construction. End Grain Construction is the premium construction style for direct food preparation. In End Grain Construction, small wood pieces stand vertically to show only the ends of the wood. This is shown in the diagram below. This construction style is significantly harder to manufacture than other construction styles because it requires a level of craftsmanship not found with most commercial suppliers. The pieces are generally random sized, although sizes will vary depending on the species and sizes of wood available at the time of manufacturing.
Butcher Block Countertops are the perfect surface area for food preparation because they are self-healing and can be sanded to look like brand new. Butcher Block Countertops are always finished with Grothouse Original Oil™, which requires a renewal process of the finish to ensure a lifetime of enjoyment and use. The refinishing process varies based on the frequency of countertop use.
When designing Modern Butcher Block Countertops, it is important to keep in mind all of the possible uses. Butcher Blocks can be designed for use as dining tables, kitchen countertops, and kitchen island tops.
Modern Butcher Block Countertops Inspiration
A colossal of award-winning designers have incorporated butcher block countertops into their modern kitchen designs.
Interior Environments designed the Maple and Wenge Checkerboard Butcher Block Countertop for the large kitchen island in the picture below. The Checkerboard Pattern and the simple chamfer edge profile enhances the modern feel of the kitchen island.
Venegas + Company LLC designed the Modern Kitchen shown below to include a Teak Butcher Block Countertop for the kitchen island. Our teak has natural water repellent properties, and requires less oiling.
In Detail Interiors incorporated the Cherry and Walnut Checkerboard Butcher Block Countertop into the modern kitchen shown in the image below. The butcher block countertop is used as a kitchen island end rather than the entire kitchen island top. The lower height makes it comfortable for chopping.
T C Studios designed the Modern Kitchen in the following picture. The Brazilian Cherry Butcher Block Countertop was used for only part of the kitchen island for dining and seating purposes. Wood provides a warm place to rest your arms or enjoy a quick meal.
Modern Butcher Block Countertops can also be incorporated into designs as Dining Tables. Aidan Design designed a Walnut Butcher Block Countertop for the dining table in the modern kitchen shown below. The dining table can double in purpose as a dining table and a food preparation area.
African Mahogany Countertops can be straight grain and are typically interlocked. The heartwood is creamy white and yellow. African Mahogany has a naturally stunning color, but it also stains and polishes well. African Mahogany Countertops are designed in various ways.
African Mahogany Countertops | Designs
African Mahogany Countertops are often designed to be used in kitchens. The kitchen shown in the pictures below includes perimeter African Mahogany Countertops as well as an African Mahogany Kitchen Island Countertop. The design is very clean and crisp. The white cabinetry accents the bright colors in the wood countertops.
Clients often pair African Mahogany with another specie or species of wood. The kitchen island countertop shown below includes stripes of African Mahogany and Maple. This is a unique look that still coincides with the rest of the kitchen. Hints of red from the African Mahogany can be found in other areas of the kitchen.
African Mahogany Countertops are also designed to be bar tops. The countertop shown below is a mix of Walnut, Wenge, and African Mahogany. This is a commercial bar top in Alabama. This is an exotic look that is perfect for the commercial space.
The laundry room pictured below includes an African Mahogany Wood Countertop. This countertop is stained to match the color of the cabinetry under the sink. African Mahogany is known for staining and polishing well. This has stood true according to this laundry room. The counter is sealed with our Durata finish is the most chemically resistant finish on the market and is perfect to repel spills from common household detergents including bleach.
End Grain Construction is the premium construction style for direct food preparation. End Grain surfaces are commonly referred to as Butcher Blocks. Brazilian Cherry Butcher Blocks are not limited to being used as a food preparation area. Butcher Blocks are often used for dining areas as well. This is seen in the modern kitchen pictured below.
Flat Construction is generally preferred for an aesthetic furniture surface that enhances the grain of the wood. Flat Grain Construction is commonly known as Wide Plank. When Brazilian Cherry is crafted in Flat Grain Construction you can see the beautiful orange-red-brown tones of the wood.
The Brazilian Cherry Flat Grain Counter pictured below is used as a residential basement bar top. The wood bar top compliments the stone nicely and the natural light brightens the space to a lively gathering place. Instead of a traditional bar with stools, the designer opted for comfortable leather club chairs. The carpeting keeps the space warm and cozy. A wall mounted television is placed for easy viewing by bar patrons. The bar is a simple and elegant design that was very tastefully done.
Brazilian Cherry Flat Grain Counters are typically used for kitchen islands. The traditional style kitchen pictured below boasts a large kitchen island with a Brazilian Cherry Countertop. The countertop is protected with Durata Permanent Finish that is scratch resistant and waterproof. The counter is not stained, and is the natural color of the wood. The color truly stands out, making the countertop the first thing you see when looking at this kitchen.
Another kitchen island with a Brazilian Cherry Countertop is shown below. The simple edge profile of the countertop emphasizes the natural color tones in the wood. This kitchen island countertop makes for the perfect seating area.
If you would like to view more photography of Brazilian Cherry Countertops, visit the Grothouse Countertop Image Library.