How to Make DIY Butcher Block Countertops


Butcher block countertops are a timeless and beautiful addition to any kitchen. Made from hardwood like maple or walnut, these countertops add warmth and character to your space. The best part is that you can make DIY butcher block countertops yourself with just a few essential tools and materials.

Making your own butcher block countertops is an extremely rewarding DIY project. You’ll gain the satisfaction of creating a functional work surface with your own two hands. With the right techniques, materials, and tools, you can achieve stunning results. This comprehensive guide will walk you through every step of how to make DIY butcher block countertops.

Tools and Materials Needed

Making DIY butcher block countertops requires just a handful of essential tools and materials. Here’s what you’ll need to get started:


  • Table saw – To rip the lumber into strips and cut miters
  • Miter saw – Alternative to the table saw for cutting miters
  • Router – To shape the edges of the countertop
  • Orbital sander – To sand the wood smooth
  • Jigsaw – To cut any holes for sinks/faucets
  • Drill – To drill pocket holes if using that joinery method
  • Various clamps – To clamp pieces together for gluing
  • Tape measure and pencil – For measuring and marking


  • Hardwood boards – Maple and walnut are common choices
  • Wood glue – For joining the strips of wood
  • Mineral oil – For protecting and sealing the wood
  • Polyurethane (optional) – For extra protection
  • Wood filler (optional) – For filling any cracks or holes

The specific amount of each material will depend on the size of your countertops. In general, you’ll need:

  • Hardwood boards to cover at least 1.5 times your total counter space
  • Around 3-4 gallons of wood glue
  • At least 1 quart of mineral oil and polyurethane each

It’s better to have extra than not enough!

Selecting and Prepping the Wood

The first step is choosing what type of wood to use. Traditional butcher blocks use hard maple or walnut. Here are some wood options to consider:

  • Maple – Very hard and durable while still affordable. Has a light color.
  • Walnut – Hard while also imparting a rich, dark finish.
  • Cherry – Ages to a deeper reddish-brown color over time.
  • Oak – Durable and stainable to various colors. Has dramatic grain patterns.

No matter what wood you select, start by milling the lumber. This involves cutting the boards to consistent widths and lengths. It’s safest to rip long boards into 3-5 inch strips using a table saw. Cut the strips to be a few inches longer than your final countertop length to allow for trimming.

Be sure to pick boards that are kiln-dried, defect-free, and flat. Carefully inspect each board and set aside any that are warped, twisted, or cracked. Once you have all your milled lumber, allow the boards to acclimate to your home’s humidity for 1-2 weeks before continuing. This will prevent excessive expansion or contraction later on.

Joining Methods for Butcher Block Countertops

There are a few techniques for joining together the wood strips to create your butcher block slab:

Basic Edge Gluing

This method involves applying wood glue to the edges of each board and clamping them together side-by-side. Allow the glue to cure fully before unclamping. The seam will be tight and the surface flat. However, seasonal wood movement may cause slight cracks over time.

Glue and Biscuits

For better alignment and stability, add biscuits along the seams while gluing. Cut slots, insert biscuits, apply glue to edges, clamp, and allow to cure. The cured biscuits will reinforce the joint.

Pocket Hole Joinery

Drill pocket holes along the underside of each board. Then use pocket screws to attach the boards together. The screws allow for tight clamping pressure. Fill the pocket holes with wood putty once joined.

Tongue and Groove

Mill a tongue and groove pattern along the edges of the wood boards. Fit the tongue and groove together when assembling. This creates a strong interlocking joint for stability.

Dowel Joinery

Drilling perfectly spaced dowel holes allows inserting dowels to align and join each board. Glue the dowels in place while clamping. Wait for the glue to fully cure before removing clamps.

In general, edge gluing alone provides sufficient strength for most countertops. Adding biscuits, pocket holes, or other joints helps reduce the risk of gaps forming over time. Choose the method that fits your skill level and tools.

Gluing Up the Butcher Block

Once you’ve milled and prepped the lumber, it’s time for the exciting assembly process. Follow these tips for properly gluing up your DIY butcher block:

  • Work on a flat, level surface. This prevents warping or twisting as the glue cures.
  • Apply an even layer of wood glue to the edges of each board using a glue brush. Don’t overdo the glue – a thin layer is ideal.
  • Quickly assemble the glued boards in order, using clamps to hold them tight. Pay attention to grain patterns when arranging the pieces.
  • Use cauls – straight 2×4 scraps – under the clamps to distribute pressure evenly across the surface.
  • Carefully wipe away any excess glue squeeze-out using a damp rag.
  • Allow the glue to cure fully over 24 hours before removing clamps or cutting to size.
  • For extra strength, repeat the glue up process 2-3 times to create thicker slabs. Allow the glue to cure in between each layer.

It takes practice to master the glue up process. Having helping hands makes assembly easier. Take your time to ensure proper alignment and clamping pressure.

Cutting and Sanding the Countertops

The butcher block slab will be oversized after glue-up. Use the following steps to cut it down to your final countertop dimensions:

  • Allow the glue to cure fully – wait at least 24 hours.
  • Carefully trim overhang with a circular saw or jigsaw.
  • Cut to length along the front and back using a miter saw.
  • Make any cutouts for sinks and faucets using a jigsaw. Go slowly and follow your lines.
  • Use a router with a flush trim bit to clean up edges or cutouts. Remove any splinters or irregularities.
  • Thoroughly sand all surfaces and edges starting with 80 grit, then 120, then 150 grit paper. Always sand with the grain.
  • Inspect for any defects and fill as needed with colored wood putty that matches the wood tone. Allow putty to fully cure before sanding flush.
  • Vacuum away all dust between sanding grits. Wipe clean with a dry cloth.

Take your time with each sanding stage for an ultra-smooth finish. The final 150 grit pass prepares the wood for finishing.

Finishing and Sealing Butcher Block

Applying the right finish protects your wood countertop while also enhancing its natural beauty. Here are some top finish options:

Mineral Oil

Mineral oil penetration provides moisture protection without building up a surface film. Apply a heavy coat daily for a week to saturate. Repeat monthly for maintenance. Quick and simple for a natural look.

Mineral Oil + Beeswax

Adding a layer of beeswax over mineral oil gives increased protection. Melt beeswax into the mineral oil and apply liberally. Buff once dry. Reapply every 1-2 months. Enriches wood color and adds light sheen.


Oil-based polyurethane forms a plastic-like film over the wood. Brush on 2-3 coats after initial mineral oil treatment, sanding lightly between each. Very durable and moisture resistant. Aubern/amber color options.

Water-based Polyurethane

Provides similar protection as oil-based but with easier cleanup and low odor. 3-5 coats are ideal, drying fully between each. Crystal clear finish.

No matter what finish you choose, first treat the unsealed wood with mineral oil. This stabilizes moisture content deep in the wood to prevent future warping or checking. Then decide if you want just mineral oil for a natural look or a top coat of wax or polyurethane for extra protection.

Installing and Caring for Butcher Block

You’re almost ready to enjoy your handcrafted countertops! Use these final tips for installation and maintenance:

  • Acclimate the finished countertops in the installation space for 7-10 days before mounting. This allows the wood to adjust to the temperature and humidity.
  • Mount securely to the cabinet base using construction adhesive and/or brackets. Shim as needed to level.
  • Seal the edges and underside with mineral oil if left unfinished.
  • Use trivets or hot pads when placing hot items on the surface to prevent scorching.
  • Cut on designated cutting boards instead of directly on the countertop.
  • Re-apply the finish coat per the manufacturer’s recommendations to refresh protection.
  • Clean using a mild soap and water. Avoid excessive water exposure.
  • Sand out minor nicks and dings. Refinish sanded areas to blend.
  • Repair deep cuts or gouges with colored wood filler. Refinish repaired sections.

Your DIY butcher block countertops will provide years of function and beauty with proper care and maintenance. Enjoy showing off your custom creation!

FAQs About Making Butcher Block Countertops

Some common questions about DIY butcher block countertops include:

What thickness should the wood strips be?

  • 3/4″ thick boards are ideal for countertops. This prevents sagging or bowing over time while still keeping weight manageable.

What about using different wood species?

  • Mixing wood types is an option if you want contrasting patterns. Keep in mind differences in hardness and finishing when combining.

Can I use construction adhesive instead of clamps?

  • Adhesive alone won’t provide enough pressure for good glue-line contact. Use clamps to hold the pieces tightly together while the glue cures.

How long does glue take to fully cure?

  • Most wood glues reach maximum strength within 24 hours. Wait at least this long before any sanding or cutting to size. Longer curing times are even better.

Is it okay to use regular wood glue?

  • Yes, standard PVA wood glue is formulated for good gap-filling and moisture resistance. No need for special epoxy or other alternatives.

How should I account for wood movement?

  • Allowing proper acclimation, using quarter-sawn lumber, edge-gluing narrow strips, and sealing all sides helps stability. But some seasonal movement is still to be expected.


One of the best parts of DIY butcher block countertops is choosing how you want them to look. Experiment with different wood species, patterns, finishes and details to make your kitchen counters your own. With the right planning and techniques, you can create stunning and long-lasting butcher block countertops tailored exactly to your space. Just take your time and enjoy the woodworking process. Soon you’ll have beautiful and functional new counters to show off!