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What is a Butcher Block?

Butcher block refers to a specific type of wood surface for tables or countertops that is similar to the actual cutting surfaces once used in butcher shops and meat processing plants. The butcher block is also frequently called a chopping block and is typically several inches thick. What gives a butcher block its unique appearance and strength is the positioning of end or edge grain on the surface. Butcher blocks provide durability and are easily resurfaced through sanding to maintain a smooth sanitary surface.

End grain butcher blocks are constructed from hundreds of square pieces of wood glued together so that their cut ends form a strong surface. Professional butcher blocks are significantly thicker than most blocks sold for use in home kitchens. Edge butcher blocks are made from small planks that have been joined together. The surface of an end butcher block will resemble a checker board while an edge block will simply appear striped. End blocks are stronger but more expensive. Sugar Maple, Teak and Walnut are the most common woods used in the construction of butcher blocks. The surface of a butcher block is typically finished with non-toxic oil if the surface will be used in food preparation or as a cutting surface.

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