The Craftsman’s Notes: Butcher Block Desk Top

This was a slightly different project made in the Fine Craftsman Lumber Workshop. We needed another desk top, so we decided to take on the task. Here was our process:

Butcher Block

Instead of starting from scratch, we started with one of our butcher blocks. We make custom butcher blocks, so making this one wasn’t too hard. We simply made a butcher block to the width, length, and thickness that was needed. Check out our blog, “Making Butcher Block: Fine Craftsman Style,” to learn about how we make our butcher blocks.

Layout for the Cutout

The tricky part about this desk top was we needed to make a cutout in the middle of the desk. We thought of a few different ways to accomplish the task. Our first thought was we could have made a template and created the cutout with a flush trim bit in a router. But we steered away from this because of the equipment we had. We decided to make the cutout with a track saw, jig saw, and a belt sander.

The first thing we needed to do was layout where the cutout needed to be. With a few measurements and a straight edge, we marked three lines showing where the cutout would be. We wanted the corners to have a radius, so we grabbed a can of stain and used the can to mark a radius in the inside corners of the cutout and the outside corners of the desk top. With the layout in place, it was time to start machining.

Manufacturing of the Cutout

The first step of cutting the cutout was with the track saw. We cut the three straight portions with the track saw. We used a jig saw to cut the radius on the corners. Then we cleaned up all the cuts with the belt sander. The last thing we did was round over all the edges. We did this with a ¼” round over bit in a trim router.

Sanding and Finishing

The last steps to this butcher block desk top is sanding and finishing. And its in true Fine Craftsman Lumber fashion to point out how sanding affects the finishes that can be used. If you are using an oil finish, you can sand to whatever grit you would like. But if you are using a finish that sits on the surface of the lumber, polyurethane, lacquer, etc., you cannot sand past 250 grit. Sanding above 250 grit polishes the surface too much and doesn’t allow the finish to stick to the lumber.

With that being said, we took this top to a local cabinet shop to get professionally sprayed with a catalyzed conversion varnish. So, I sanded the top with a 80, 120, 180, and 250 sanding grit sequence. The bottom side was only sanded to 180 grit. After the sanding was complete, the butcher block top was hauled to the cabinet shop to get finished.

Materials:
Fine Craftsman Lumber Butcher Block

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