Our Custom Wood Countertops Blog features the industry’s most talented and innovative designers throughout the United States and abroad. This featured design includes Walnut with Sapwood Butcher Block designed by Melissa Sakell of Kenwood Kitchens.
About the Designer: Melissa Sakell, AKBD is a graduate of Virginia Tech’s Housing Program which focuses on kitchen and bath design. She has been designing custom spaces for over six years now, and with Kenwood Kitchens, in Annapolis MD for the last 4+ years. She loves transforming clients homes into the space of their dreams and visiting with clients a few months after to see how much impact the remodel has had on their lives is one of her favorite things.
Designer Tip: In this kitchen we mixed a lot of materials and finishes, which can be tricky. It is important to lay them all out and make sure they complement and not compete with one another, in this kitchen the walnut top became a great way to ground the space and pull your eye in.
Cabinet Manufacturer:WoodMode Custom Cabinetry – Presidio Raised Door-style in Vintage Bright White & Matte Twilight Finishes
Parker explains that what sets one space apart from another is often not a big, grand gesture, but rather a small, thoughtful addition that stays with you even after you’ve left the room.
Chopping stations create the ultimate food preparation area and are often located near the range. End grain butcher block countertops are the chef-preferred surface material for chopping stations. This construction style is the kindest to knives and keeps their blades sharp. In addition, butcher blocks tend to be self-healing and most knife marks disappear after cleaning and re-oiling.
Kitchen Designs with Chopping Stations
Stonington Cabinetry & Designs selected a Walnut butcher block for the chopping station in this bright, white transitional kitchen. Matching the Walnut wood kitchen island, this chopping block is conveniently located across from the sink and near the range.
Kate Connolly of Homestead Kitchens cleverly designed a Wenge butcher block chopping station to be located parallel to the range. Kate explained, “The Wenge butcher block is not only practical, but adds another layer of texture and interest to this mostly monotone kitchen.”
Pine Street Carpenters, Inc. designed a Random Mix Walnut with Sapwood butcher block for a food prep station in between the sink and the cooktop. The butcher block adds warmth and ties in the flooring and floating shelves.
Designing a chopping station for your kitchen can make the space one-of-a-kind. To learn more about end grain butcher blocks, click here. Be sure to follow Grothouse on Instagram for daily design inspiration.
At Grothouse, we refer to wood surfaces crafted in End Grain construction as Butcher Blocks. According to Wikipedia, Butcher block, or butcher’s block, is a style of assembled wood used as heavy duty chopping blocks, table tops, and cutting boards.
The Evolution of Butcher Blocks
The history of wood butcher blocks is not defined. Some say the use of a butcher block first originated in China. Others say that wood has been used in the preparation of food since the prehistoric ages. Butchers used tree rounds to carve meat on. The rounds were often too soft and they rapidly became unsanitary.
Throughout the centuries, mankind evolved and started creating machines. When the circular saw was invented, nicer, cleaner slabs of wood were cut and used as cutting boards. Since soft wood was the most available type of wood at the time, it was the material of choice to be used for cutting boards.
The boards were made smaller since the slab of wood could now be cut to any desired size. Since they were made smaller, they were also used to eat off of and some people referred to them as trenchers. Trenchers were originally pieces of stale hard bread that were used as substitute plates. Wood trenchers quickly became the replacements of the eatable dinnerware.
Hard wood butcher blocks were the preferred choice of the butcher industry. They were made to be extremely thick and durable, so durable in fact, that a butcher could use the same block for almost his entire career.
One fact remains true, butcher blocks have been used in butcher shops for centuries, and still are in many European countries today, as well as in homes for the use of food preparation.
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.
Bolivian Rosewood Countertops are beautifully exotic and are gaining popularity in the design community. Also called Morado, Bolivian Rosewood is grown in Bolivia, Brazil. It is a very dense and rich colored wood beautiful with black striping on top of a dark brown and red background. Bolivian Rosewood Countertops offer a wide range of colors from medium to light browns and almost black brown and purple tones, there is repeated black striping. The color of the wood lightens over time from dark brown tones to lighter gold/tan tones. Bolivian Rosewood Countertops are suitable for any application, residential and commercial.
Designing Bolivian Rosewood Countertops
Bolivian Rosewood can be crafted in any construction style: End Grain, Edge Grain, or Flat Grain. The most popular construction style for Bolivian Rosewood is End Grain.
End Grain countertops are typically referred to as Butcher Blocks. The Bolivian Rosewood Butcher Block is not your typical butcher block wood. It offers elegance not typically associated with butcher blocks. Below is an image of a Bolivian Rosewood Butcher Block.
Donna Venegas of Venegas and Company LLC designed the Bolivian Rosewood Countertop pictured below. This butcher block has graining and coloration like no other wood.
Bolivian Rosewood Butcher Blocks often reveal Medullary rays. Medullary rays are a common characteristic found in woods. Medullary rays refer to radial sheets or ribbons extending vertically through the tree across and perpendicular to the growth rings. Also called pith rays or wood rays, these formations of primarily parenchyma cells allow the radial transmission of sap. At a glance, they often appear to be a crack in the wood, but are a natural occurrence that permits proper tree growth. See the photo below. The arrows point to the rays. Below is an image of Medullary rays on a Bolivian Rosewood Butcher Block.
Bolivian Rosewood Countertops can also be crafted in Edge Grain or Flat Grain construction. Below is an Edge Grain Bolivian Rosewood Countertop. The countertop has a classic Standard Roman Ogee Edge Profile on the top of one horizontal edge.
Grothouse would like to congratulate Peter Cardamone and Lynne Kaltman of Blue Bell Kitchens for winning Thermador’s National Kitchen Design Challenge in the Traditional/Transitional category! Their designs are always equally beautiful and functional.
Their kitchen entry was from a Wyomissing, Pennsylvania residence. Together the two created an open and inviting space to be the center of the home. The kitchen showcases Thermador appliances and rustic elements mixed in with transitional cabinetry to complement the existing natural tones from the kitchen’s field stone fireplace.
The Custom Random Mix Walnut Butcher Block was crafted to be 2 ½ inches thick with a ¼ inch Chamfer Edge Profile. Sealed with Grothouse Original Oil™, the Walnut Butcher Block is the perfect food preparation area, home for the KitchenAid mixer and de rigueur for a chef’s kitchen.
More images of the Prize Winning Kitchen including a Walnut Butcher Block:
The Medium Double Roman Ogee is an impressive, top-rated Wood Countertop Edge Profile. It is a popular edge chosen for surfaces used in Traditional and Transitional style kitchens and baths.
Designing a Wood Countertop with a Medium Double Roman Ogee Edge
The Medium Double Roman Ogee requires a minimum countertop thickness of 2-1/2″. The depth of the edge profile is 2-1/8″. Below is a diagram of the edge profile.
It can be applied to a wood surface of any construction style: Flat Grain, End Grain, and Edge Grain. However, it can only be placed on the top of the countertop edge. Below are several different designs including Wood Countertops with a Medium Double Roman Ogee edge.
The Traditional style kitchen pictured above was designed by Auer Kitchens. For the kitchen island they chose a Flat Grain Sapele Mahogany Wood Countertop. The countertop includes a Medium Double Roman Ogee Edge.
Pictured above is another Sapele Mahogany Countertop crafted in Edge Grain Construction. This countertop includes a Medium Roman Ogee for the edge profile. This Traditional style kitchen was designed by Steinburg Custom Designs.
This next countertop is Walnut crafted in Edge Grain construction. The Walnut Countertop includes the Medium Double Roman Ogee, as well as two inset notched radius corners. This Walnut Countertop was designed by Kornerstone Kitchen & Bath.
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.
The Benefits of Grothouse Butcher Block Kitchen Island Tops
Grothouse Butcher Block Kitchen Island Tops add a very welcoming and inviting feel to any style kitchen. Their beautiful appearance instantly pleases everyone’s sense of sight. Each butcher block is carefully hand sanded to a silky, smooth finish; making them tactile and warm to the touch.
The thermal diffusion of wood is much lower than that of other materials, such as steel, concrete, and stone. For this reason, wood does not feel extremely hot or cold to the touch as do some other materials. This is the main reason why Grothouse Butcher Block Kitchen Island Tops are inviting surfaces to sit at. Because of this, Butcher Block Islands become the center piece of the kitchen. They are also safe to use with sinks and stoves when installed properly. The Butcher Block Kitchen Island Top shown below includes an over mount Kohler sink. This kitchen was designed by Plain & Fancy.
Grothouse Butcher Block Kitchen Island Tops also provide a functional work surface to any kitchen. Unlike granite or marble slabs, butcher blocks can be made to any size without unsightly seams. The beauty of using a large butcher block countertop for an island is revealed in the design pictured below. This large kitchen island countertop is constructed in one piece with no unsightly seams. The butcher block was designed by Cabinet Tree Design Studio.
Having a Butcher Block Kitchen Island Top eliminates the need for cutting boards and chopping blocks. Butcher Block Island tops create a large surface that can be used for direct chopping and food preparation. In addition, you can incorporate a waste hole with a compost bin underneath, which makes cleaning up a breeze.
These are all wonderful features to have in your kitchen if you have cooking parties and need space for groups of chopping chefs; or simply have a large family that loves to cook.
The eclectic kitchen shown below was designed by JP Walters Design Associates. This kitchen boasts a large maple butcher block island top. This kitchen is a chefs dream with top of the line appliances and plenty of counter space.
Grothouse Butcher Block Kitchen Island Tops are very beneficial to any kitchen style. They are very welcoming and inviting surfaces to sit at. Because of this, they become the center piece of any kitchen. Butcher Block Kitchen Island Tops provide a functional work surface to any kitchen. They are safe to use with sinks and stoves when installed properly. Unlike granite or marble slabs, butcher blocks can be made to any size without unsightly seams. Having a Butcher Block Kitchen Island Top eliminates the need for cutting boards and chopping blocks. You can add various features to your butcher block to increase it’s functionality.
You can view more Grothouse Butcher Block Kitchen Island Tops in the Image Library of our Countertop Design Guide.