8

Some Ikea furniture, such as the Norden table series, uses a distinctive type of striped wood for the large flat surfaces. These surfaces appear to be many pieces of approximately 1–⅜ × ½ inch slats of wood combined together into a larger piece. What is this type of wood and how is it made?

To be clear, I'm not looking for the species of tree the wood came from, but rather the name and manufacturing technique used to make this sort of composite structure.

14

This is called a butcher block. It comes in two types - edge grain (like in the Norden tables), where the surface shows the edge (long) grain of the pieces of wood:

Edge grain butcher block

And end grain, where the surface shows the end grain of the pieces of wood:

End grain butcher block

Butcher block is made from small pieces, which are glued together. Since wood glue is stronger than the wood it binds, there is no need for any more fastening of the wood pieces. A butcher block in general is a more economical way of creating large wooden surfaces.

An end-grain butcher block is tougher than an edge grain, since the end-grain is tougher.

Butcher block construction is commonly used for cutting boards and for kitchen counter tops.

  • I have seen many simple workbenches that use this principle (edge grain top) as well. – Matt Jul 26 '15 at 12:48
  • 1
    The one thing that I think is missing from this is the process is (im sure) refereed to as lamination. – Matt Jul 26 '15 at 14:26
  • I don't think that a butcher block is related to lamination. Lamination is more about making larger beams from smaller pieces of wood. Butcher block construction is aimed at wooden surfaces. But I suppose that names depend also on the region where one is. – Eli Iser Jul 26 '15 at 14:30
  • Note that end-grain butcher block (which is claimed to be kinder to sharp edges should you overshoot/miss and bang a tool into them) is the result of making an edge-grain board, cutting it across the grain into strips, rotating the strips 90 degrees, and gluing them back together. Some wood is lost to the saw kerfs, of course, and it's another big glue-and-clamp job, and when levelling the surface you're now planing across end grain... but it's still essentially the same process. – keshlam Jul 26 '15 at 23:11
  • It is lamination, technicallly -- though normally that term is used when the components (plies, hence plywood) are much thinner. – keshlam Jul 26 '15 at 23:14
3

One thing to watch out for: butcher-block veneers, and plastic laminates with this pattern printed into them, also exist. Of course these have very different durability characteristics than real butcher-block. Ikea is somewhat notorious for veneer-over-MDF construction; I would hope they were clear about what you're buying but you may want to ask

Similarly, butcher-block construction's durability will depend upon what wood is being used. Again, you may need to ask.

(I have an old tabletop in my basement that looks like butcher-block on one side and a completely different construction on the other, and I have no idea yet what's between them.)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.