Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Hey Everyone, I came across an amazing kitchen the other day and it got me thinking about Butcher Block.  And more specifically End Grain and Face Grain.  What are they really?  Well..... they truly are exactly how they sound.  When cutting the wood, if you see the cut end that is End Grain.  If you see the long grained side that is Face Grain.  If you were to cut the tree in half lengthwise and see inside that is "the face".  As I said, I saw a kitchen.........

Isn't this kitchen gorgeous?  I love how the designer has incorporated elements beautifully.  I love how the butcher block has/is the same tone as the brick, as is the hardwood used.  This is a great example of someone who understands undertones.  Here orange is the undertone found in the brick, butcher block and the hardwood.  And on top of that the Designer has used a Complimentary Colour scheme to perfection.  In case you didn't know....in terms of colours  being Complimentary they are opposite on the colour wheel.  Here he has used blue and orange.  Not only is the colour in this kitchen amazing, but, the tone is as well.  The blue used is neither too bright nor too greyed down.  This kitchen is such a great example to show many elements in design-LOVE IT!!!
Now.....in terms of Butcher block, why would one want to pick one over the other??  For most of us that would use wood as a Counter Top, most would choose based on aesthetics.  When it comes to grain, most people out there have a very firm opinion on the type of grain they like.  I myself love both.  It would really have to depend on the type of wood, colour, depth of grain , etc....for me to pick either.  However, most have a definite like or dislike for either.  If you were to choose either it would be perfectly fine for a counter top for Cabinetry or an Island.  In fact my Island has a face grain wood top that we purchased from Ikea nearly 9 yrs ago!  It has held up beautifully.  And let me tell you we are NOT easy on that wood.  It gets very abused.  However, that is the beauty of wood.  It can get banged up and you either leave it or you can fix it (for the most part).
Where Butcher Block and the type of grain it is comes into play is when you are talking about it's Utility.  There are two reasons......One is that if you want a thick top say more than 1 1/2", you would most likely have to have end grain.  If you would want one that is say 4" or 5" you would definitely want Butcher Block. You can make Butcher Block just about any thickness.  Not only is it more economical, it is more stable than if you were to have a face grain piece at 3" or more.  And did I mention the cost??
Another reason is the inherent stability of End Grain.  That is why you will find it in "Butcher" shops or other places that would chop on the surface of the wood.  You can chop away on that top and it will hold up way better than if you were to whack away on a Face Grain top.
But, like I said, for those of us where aesthetics is why we are choosing a Wood Top, it really comes down to what you like.  Both will perform fine.  You may have some issues with the wood slightly splitting in a face grain, however, this should be minor.
I truly love Butcher Block Counters.  They have been around for quite some time.  However, it seems that those of us here in North America are playing catch up when it comes to this great material.  They have been very popular in Europe for years.  They are especially popular in the UK.  There is just something so lovely about Wood Counter Tops.  They are warm to the touch, hold up really well and impart a visual warmth to a space.

Examples of End Grain:

This is such a great example of how different woods will give a particular look.  This Butcher Block is made of Maple.  Can you see the almost luminescence that the wood imparts.  Maple can sometimes give off this "glow" for a lack of a better term.  It looks so amazing in this end cut block.

Look how gorgeous this Island Counter is!  I love the fact that they went with a very thick top.  You couldn't have done that with a face grain my friends.  GORGEOUS!!

I really like the edge detailing on this top.  Have you ever noticed that when you see wood used as a Counter Top it almost always has a square edge detail??  However, that isn't the case here.  They have an Ogee detailing.  That is a VERY difficult thing to execute...let me tell you!  Especially when you are talking about end grain, it can be very difficult to get a smooth curved cut.  An Ogee detailing is all about curves and carving as it were.  The wood when it is being cut to create such an edge has a tendency to "rip" or better yet the blade "bites" at the wood.  This gives the wood a very chopped or "chewed" appearance.  Someone with some skill and a VERY sharp blade created this great edge detail here.

I love it when a kitchen has multiple materials used as Counter Tops.  Here the designer has used wood in an area where people will be sitting and eating.  This is much more comfortable to sit at than sitting at a counter made of stone.  It will feel much warmer to the arms that will inevitably be leaning or resting there.  Plus it has the added bonus of being visually more interesting than using just one material.

Face Grain:

I love that Red Island!!!  Such a statement.  I too love how they stained the top to better go with the hardwood.  Those are some great legs!!

Again, mixing of materials adds so much to this space.  This space could have been much colder if not for the addition of the wood Counter.

This is such a great example of how you CAN have a cut out for an under mount sink with wood.  As long as you seal the cut edge of the sink cut out you will be fine.  Since the cut edge is now a cut end grain this will absorb water VERY readily due to the inherent properties of end grain wood.  Just seal it within an inch of it's life and you will be gold.

How amazingly uber pretty is this??  The grain of the Island is awesome.

The Island is indeed face grained wood.  This is about as thick for face grain as you can get.  Think of it as a bunch of 2x4's glued together and sanded beautifully.

Although at first glance one may think that this is end grain it is not.  I really love the stain colour used on it.  Just beautiful!!!

So there you have it.......End Grain and Face Grain.....Which one are you??
Have an awesome day everyone.



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