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Question. This is made by, I think, gluing many moderately sized pieces of hardwood. What is it called?

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Appandix. Reason I'm interested about this is to consider using it for doors instead of simply table tops. I see them as cheaper alternatives to single-piece timber, while still being maintainable (e.g. can sand and repair) and strong.

I think if the pattern is horizontal, such doors will blend nicely with stone walls like the one below.

enter image description here

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    In all probability you will find butcher block panels with the grain running lengthwise. You would probably have to cut the panel to width and join two or more pieces together to achieve door height with horizontal board orientation. That will require a proper setup to glue them. You can search this site by posing a question to get suggestions of related panel gluing questions that can help you figure out what you want to do and how to do it. I agree, it would look good.
    – Ashlar
    Oct 12 '21 at 19:27
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The commonly used name for it is "butcher block", however it really isn't. True butcher block is glued up the same way, but you see the end grain on the horizontal surface instead of the long grain.

It's a "glue up", but if you're searching for it by that name, you probably won't find it, it'll probably be listed as "butcher block".

To be honest, I haven't gone shopping for doors lately, but I've never seen a glued-up door like this. I don't know if that's due to strength or the fact that you may be one of 7 people[1] to whom this would appeal as a door, but they don't seem to make them. I don't know of any reason you couldn't or shouldn't make a door this way, but they're not common.

It might be less expensive if you were to make it yourself, since you could use smaller pieces of lumber to start with, however, for commercially manufactured doors, this would actually probably cost more because there's significantly more labor involved in cutting, surfacing and gluing all those little pieces than there is in traditional door manufacturing. If you're DIYing it, you bear those costs as well, but we tend to give a zero-cost factor to time when making things ourselves.

[1] 97.23% of all internet statistics are made up on the spot.;)

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  • Thanks. I was wondering if such wood planes are already sold pre-glued by factories, such that they become cheaper than buying timber.
    – caveman
    Oct 11 '21 at 14:14
  • IKEA sells a bazillion[1] a month. My local big-box stores have them in stock, as well. I'm sure they're sold elsewhere. I don't know about mfg costs, but sales prices are probably higher because this is a hip, trendy style right now and demand is high, so people will pay a higher price anyway. [1]see footnote above about numbers on the internet. ;)
    – FreeMan
    Oct 11 '21 at 14:19
  • Note, too, that this is usually referred to as a "panel" or "top" (as in counter top or desk top), not a "plane". I read the word "plane" in your title and was thinking of the tool for removing thin slices of wood. Of course, it could refer to aircraft, but in the context, I figured that wasn't what you were after. ;)
    – FreeMan
    Oct 11 '21 at 14:20
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    Might be fodder for another question, but off the top of my head, doors want to be dimensionally stable (these panels expand/contract across the width), and flat (these are prone to cupping with emc changes). There's also the issue of weight, which isn't by itself a show-stopper, but at door thicknesses, these would be ungainly heavy. Even if these weren't popular, I don't think manufacturing efficiencies would bring them anywhere near the price of a normal door, as a normal door can use non-clear lumber (or worse!) under its veneer skin. Oct 12 '21 at 2:29
  • I agree: this would be an exceedingly massive door, even for exterior use. The headers and hanging arrangement would have to be scaled up appropriately.
    – jdv
    Oct 12 '21 at 21:13
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To add to Freeman's excellent answer, the important takeaway here is that a slab that is made up of a lot of little oddly dimensioned pieces is a function of most of these being factory made.

One could make this in the home shop, but they'd have to be pretty neat with the never-ending jointing (on all sides!) and careful with glue-up and clamping. I suspect one would have to do this in stages, or have a dedicated clamping setup to handle all the slippy pieces. Not to mention that it is hard to clamp along two axes, so you might need to make a bunch of staves that are then clamped together and trimmed to size.

And, while modern glues are amazingly strong, each of those hundreds of joints would have to be well made or natural wood movement will separate at least one of them over time. This is because factory methods can control glue application, clamping pressure (probably managed with strain gauges) in all directions, heat, and humidity for near-perfect seams. They will have this dialed in for the material and joints in a way that would be hard (but not impossible) for the home shop.

There are techniques for making panels from smaller pieces, of course. But few shops would do it the way Ikea, et al, do. There are also some tricks with respect to slightly hollowing out joints to make sure the seam is nice and tight. (For all I know, the factory methods do this, as well.)

This does not address how the panel will then have to be surfaced. A power planer would work, though the potential for snipe over joints might be problematic. I would not want to hand-plane a door-sized piece, but with the right skill and tools it can be done (obviously). If you have a thicknesser/planer/sander you could glue up panels that fit the maximum dimension of that and then glue up the large panels so only that seam needs to be trued afterwards.

But the takeaway is that the look and construction of these large panels made from hundreds off smaller offcuts is made possible by factories where humans load up machines and help arrange orientation, and robots do the rest. In my opinion there is very little that translates to actual woodworking with hand or power tools when looking at the results. Not to mention that it would be a huge amount of work to do this in the home shop, even with all sorts of power tools, and there is no guarantee one will get the same results as we see in the picture.

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  • Thanks. Yes, I certainly don't plan to do it it myself. I just wanted to know its name, so that I search for factories that already make it, so that I buy it ready made instead of timbers.
    – caveman
    Oct 12 '21 at 18:52
  • I could have sworn that your question inquired also into how to do this yourself, but apparently I am labouring under a misapprehension.
    – jdv
    Oct 12 '21 at 21:11
  • It's useful what you said though. That's why I thanked you. Probably I was going to ask that question next year. So I'm glad you answered ahead of time. E.g. your answer was so fast it came negative 1 year after the question.
    – caveman
    Oct 13 '21 at 18:00

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