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Old 08-16-2007, 11:57 PM   #1
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Butcher block - which wood?


I'm getting a new counter and have decided to go with butcher block. My choices (Ikea) are birch, beech, or oak. They all look fine to me although the oak seems to be a bit more open grained. Can anyone educate me when it comes to advantages/disadvantages of any of my choices? I live in a pretty dry climate if that makes and difference.

Also, the wood is natural, general maintenance is to use oil every few months. I'm wondering if there is any way (oils or stains) to make the wood darker that would be safe for a surface food may come in contact with.

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Old 08-17-2007, 03:06 AM   #2
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Butcher block - which wood?


Typically a finer grained wood is better. and AFIK Mineral Oil and the "Salad Bowl" Finish are the only food safe oils for them.

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Old 08-17-2007, 06:36 AM   #3
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Butcher block - which wood?


Just for my own edification, is the butcher block a "style" of countertop or is it a genuine cutting/chopping block that you will actually be preparing meats and vegetables on?
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Old 08-17-2007, 11:16 AM   #4
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Butcher block - which wood?


Butcher block is solid wood (or strips of wood), made into counters (vs cutting boards, tables, chopping blocks). You can use it for food prep if you don't mind the scratches and wear which will result. As I understand it people can take one of two directions. One is a protective coat like a urathane or whatever and the other is oil. I want to do oil so the counter will be less sensitive to heat and scratches as it will be easier to sand out any problems. I do plan to use a cutting board for most cutting but the counter itself will come into contact with food probably.

Here's a picture I pulled off the web of what I am aiming for.
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Old 08-17-2007, 11:20 AM   #5
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Butcher block - which wood?


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Old 08-17-2007, 11:35 AM   #6
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Butcher block - which wood?


I was asking about your intended usage because if the butcher block is used as a cutting board or food preparation surface then it limits the types of oil that can be used and also the recommended type of wood that the block is constructed from. Maple is primarily used in butcher blocks and a couple of other woods that "weather" well in that environment. Oak is not one of them as the tannins in the wood will alter the food flavor and not in a desirable way. Mineral oil is the coating of choice as it is non toxic and doesn't impart any undesirable flavors into the food. If your "butcher block" is only being used as a counter surface and not used in the direct preparation (contact other than incidental) of food, then ignore all the above.

See this article: http://whatscookingamerica.net/Cutti...s/AllAbout.htm
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Old 08-17-2007, 03:04 PM   #7
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Butcher block - which wood?


Thanks for the info and the link.

So, considering maple isnt' available and oak is probably not recommended, that leaves me choosing between beech and birch. Any thoughts which to go with?
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Old 08-17-2007, 04:32 PM   #8
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Butcher block - which wood?


Hard Maple is the most widely used matrial for this purpose. Lumber Liquidators sells maple butcher block material which is better suited for an active kitchen and not just for looks.
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Old 08-17-2007, 04:46 PM   #9
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Butcher block - which wood?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Dusty View Post
Thanks for the info and the link.

So, considering maple isnt' available and oak is probably not recommended, that leaves me choosing between beech and birch. Any thoughts which to go with?
I know the next two most popular choices are walnut and cherry. The general rule is any hard tight grained wood. Oak is an open grained wood but if you look around long enough you'll see where some use it anyway despite the tannin issue. Birch, teak, bamboo and ash are all tight grained woods so the birch is probably your boy.
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Old 08-17-2007, 07:33 PM   #10
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Butcher block - which wood?


if my choice is between birch and beech then Beech wins everytime, harder,tighter grain, almost equal to Maple
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Old 08-18-2007, 08:06 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by skymaster View Post
if my choice is between birch and beech then Beech wins everytime, harder,tighter grain, almost equal to Maple
Aha! This I didn't know. I defer to the skymaster.
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Old 08-18-2007, 08:56 AM   #12
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Butcher block - which wood?


Thanks folks. Beech it is then. It's kind of tough not having a lot of choices but I've been trying for a year now to get my kitchen counter done (as well as my bathroom tiled). There is a serious shortage of trades (labour in general) here as the market is very hot so small jobs like mine aren't getting done. When I saw Ikea could offer install sometime before Christmas and a guarantee I decided to try their counters. Fingers crossed.
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Old 08-22-2007, 10:18 PM   #13
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Butcher block - which wood?


Couldn't pass this up. Out in the forest there was a beech tree and a birch tree real close together. A sappling sprouted between them. Couldn't determine if it was a son of a birch or a son of a beech. Sorry

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