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Custom Wood Countertops and Island Tops in 14 Different Gorgeous Species

Countertop Wood Species

Butcher Block Co. countertops are available in the four most popular North American hardwoods - Rock Maple, American Cherry, Black Walnut and Red Oak - plus 10 other equally spectacular species: Ash, Beech, Birch, Brazilian Cherry, Hickory, Knotty Alder, Knotty Pine, Mahogany, Poplar, Spanish Cedar and White Oak.

View our extraordinary array of species and grain styles.

If you are looking for a gorgeous island or counter top for a residential or commercial kitchen, you'll find a wide range of stunning options in various shades of beige, tan, brown, reddish brown and gold. Choose among species with muted, consistent coloration to others with medium to high color variegation.

For workshop or industrial applications, opt for a species that's especially hard. Soft and moderately hard species should be suitable for most home and commercial offices.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Butcher Block Co. countertops and cutting boards are not reversible. That means that knots, holes, voids or gouges might show on their undersides. You might want to make your counter or island top reversible if it will have an overhang that will be visible from below, or if you will use it as a shelf. If you are shopping for a cutting board and wish to show and use both sides, again make it reversible.

NOTE ON OAK: Sometimes, radiating silver streaks called medullary rays  appear in oak countertops where the tree's growth rings are roughly perpendicular to the face of the board. These are naturally occurring and not defects.

Plus Quarter-sawn Countertops in Red or White Oak

When lumber is quarter-sawn, it means the log was first cut into four quarters, just as you might cut a pie into four equal-size slices, then each quarter of the log is sawn. As a result, the annual rings of the source tree run perpendicular to the faces of the harvested boards, which reveal striped grain lines that run fairly straight and provide a unique look that some people prefer for wood counters and furniture. The other key advantage of quarter-sawn countertops is their superior stability. Each rail of the top is much less likely to warp or cup (i.e., become concave - high on outside edges and low in the center).

Quarter-sawn wood

Comparing Wood Species on Hardness

Countertop Wood Hardness

The Janka hardness test, which measures a wood's resistance to denting, is widely accepted as the standard for comparing different wood types on hardness. The test measures the amount of force, in pounds-force (lbf), required to embed a steel ball of specific size into the wood. As you view the data, keep in mind two points. First, the hardness of wood varies depending on its orientation (i.e., testing along the wood's grain vs. against it). Second, findings can vary from sample to sample, and even within a particular sample. Consequently, you should not consider any data point as especially meaningful. Rather, we share these findings to give you a general sense of the hardness of a species relative to others. Here's another visual tool to help you choose a species based on both of the above attributes: appearance and hardness.

Comparing Wood Species on Price

Wood Countertop Prices

Very Affordable: Poplar, Knotty Alder, Knotty Pine, Beech, Ash and Birch are the least expensive options. They typically cost somewhere between half to about two-thirds as much as walnut, the price leader.

Moderately Affordable: In the mid-priced tier are classic varieties: Red and White Oak, American Cherry, Hickory and Maple.

More Pricey: Accompanying Walnut in the higher-priced bracket are Mahogany, Brazilian Cherry and Spanish Cedar. These species are also considered the most visually striking.

(Last updated in January, 2015)

Our Custom Butcher Block Countertops Come in Edge-Grain and End-Grain Styles

Edge-grain wood is constructed by bonding together long wood rails that run the full length of the block. The wood rails are arranged face to face, so it's the edge grain of the wood that shows on the surface of the countertop. In contrast, end-grain tops provide glimpses of the growth rings of the source tree.

Regardless, the wood rails used in Butcher Block Co. countertops are 1-inch wide strips. As mentioned, in edge-grain countertops each wood rail spans the top's full length; whereas our end-grain counters utilize rails from 1-1/2 to 6 inches long and arranged in rows that run parallel to the width of the counter.




Wood Plank Countertops Too!

Plank-style wooden island/counter tops are another option. Each is composed of wood planks bonded together and running parallel to the length of the counter or island. The surface of a plank island or counter top shows off the face grain of wood.

Our plank tops utilize boards that vary in width from 3 inches to 6 inches. Variation delivers a more natural and interesting look.

Countertop Wood Species

edge, end, blended grain styles

Hand-scraped Countertop

Hand-Scraping Adds a Rustic, Aged Look

If you're seeking an antique-like appearance or a look of authenticity, consider specifying a hand-scraped finish for your edge-grain or plank countertops. To produce this effect, the Amish craftsmen who make all our lovely countertops guide a wood scraper longitudinally along the wood, causing very slight variations in its surface. The effect is most noticeable when viewing the wood under nearly horizontal lighting, which tends to accentuate the unevenness.

Do You Need an Extra-Large Island Top or Table Top?

No matter what your needs are, it's likely we can satisfy them. Whether you're looking to cover a small countertop work area, or an island 15 feet long and 7 feet wide, we have the capability.

Here's a great example. We created this extra-large plank-style table top made of 1-1/2-inch-thick Knotty Alder for a new Italian restaurant in San Diego. It's 5-1/2 feet wide and nearly 10 feet long, and it seats 18!

knotty alder restaurant dinner table

Finish Options Are Natural Oil, Conversion Varnish, Unfinished, or Urethane

If you want an unfinished top you intend to finish yourself, select "Unfinished" as your finish choice.

If you plan to cut on your counter or island top, select food-safe "Natural Oil" as your finish selection, since oil helps protect and preserve wood. Know you will need to re-oil the top about once a month. Also, be aware that early on, applying mineral oil or butcher block oil can sometimes subtly raise the grain of the wood, making it feel rough to the touch and requiring buffing or light sanding and re-oiling until the roughness subsides.

If you do NOT plan to cut directly upon your new top and would prefer the lower maintenance and lifetime protection that clear-coat varnish provides, select "Conversion Varnish" as your finish selection. Our 40-sheen semi-gloss conversion varnish is professionally applied to ensure a smooth and lustrous finish.

We also offer commercial-grade urethane as a spray-on finish option. Water-resistant, urethane is appropriate for bar tops and restaurant tables. It leaves a 45-sheen semi-gloss finish that's quite durable. If this option is of interest, please call for pricing.


For Outdoor Use: Spanish Cedar Bonded Together Using Waterproof Glue

If your new countertop will be outdoors, on a covered patio for instance, consider a Spanish Cedar top made using special waterproof glue. You have two finish options to choose between: natural oil, which must reapplied regularly; or Marine Spar Varnish with UV protector, which must be reapplied every year. There is a 10% upcharge for outdoor countertops. Please call to place your order.

Choose From 8 Edge-Style Options

The default edge style on Butcher Block Co. countertops is "Eased," meaning square, but lightly sanded to remove any sharpness. Eased edges are perfect for installations where the countertop will abut a wall, for instance. If you wish to add a bit more visual interest, consider Bevel, Radius or Cove edge styles. For a classic look, we recommend the Radius & Step or the Roman Ogee edge styles.


Countertop Edge Styles
We Also Offer Backsplashes!

Need a backsplash or two, or three? No problem. Just give us a call or send us an email. There's no classier way to finish off your kitchen remodel.

Will Your Counter/Island Top Have an Overhang? Browse Our Countertop Brackets & Corbel Supports, as Well as Dining Stools.
Countertop Support Brackets
Shop Brackets
             Countertop Support Corbels
Shop Corbels
                 John Boos Dining Stools
Shop Stools


If You're Leading Edge, Consider a Waterfall-Edge Kitchen Island. They're All the Rage.

waterfall kitchen island

When a kitchen island top continues down the ends of the island, it's called a waterfall island.
Of course, this moniker alludes to the imagery of flowing water cascading down a vertical wall.
A waterfall-edge island can make your kitchen truly stunning.

Butcher Block Co. waterfall islands can ship in two different modes - either pre-assembled (1-1/2-inch minimum thickness); or knocked-down and ready to assembly on site (in the event doorways are not sufficiently wide).

  • We use heavy-duty wooden dowels to secure ends to the top of a factory-assembled waterfall island and attach sturdy skirt boards to both long sides to protect it during shipment. Pre-assembled islands are self-standing and require no additional support. You have the option to select either a Natural Oil or a Conversion Varnish finish, or no finish at all.
  • Ready-to-assemble waterfall-edge islands ship unfinished, with all the necessary hardware included. Any experienced DIYer or capable craftsman should be up to the challenge. Sanding will be required after assembly is completed and the RTA waterfall top must be properly supported.

How To Assemble an RTA Waterfall Kitchen Island

Each RTA waterfall-edge island ships fully prepped for assembly onsite. The island ends and top are to be secured using specialized split-miter bolts. Each bolt is composed of two hinged screw shafts and two gear heads.

Split Miter Bolt

waterfall island corner connector


Holes are pre-drilled where the boards are to be joined - holes to hold the female gear heads, and smaller holes through which the male screw shafts are to be inserted.

waterfall island corner connector


After screws are threaded into gear heads and glue is applied to the edges to be joined, gear heads are tightened (tool included) in order to form a firm 90-degree corner.

waterfall island corner connector


Waterfall Island Limitations
  • Waterfall islands only come in plank style.
  • The combined length of a waterfall top and ends is limited. See the maximum LENGTH restrictions for PLANK tops by species.
  • The maximum width (depth) of a waterfall island is 48 inches.

If you would like us to provide a price quote on a waterfall island or counter top, please call or email us project details.


Since Butcher Block Co. countertops are made-to-order, we are unable to accept returns, except in cases involving damage incurred during shipment; to allow product exchanges; or to offer refunds.

Order Changes or Cancellation

To minimize lead time, we commit to raw material purchases 24 hours after you place an order. Consequently, you will have only 24 hours to change or cancel your order. AFTER 24 HOURS, YOU CANNOT CANCEL YOUR ORDER. We will however, make our best efforts to accommodate a change request if production has not yet begun.

Product Warranty

The Butcher Block Co. warrants that your countertop will be free of defects upon arrival. If yours appears to be defective or damaged, you must notify us by phone or email within 7 days of receipt. If your top has defects in materials or workmanship, it might need to be returned to us for repair or replacement.

The Butcher Block Co. warrants against glue-joint delamination within one year from receipt. If a glue joint does delaminate, please notify us right away. The countertop might need to be returned to us, at our expense, for replacement or repair.

The Butcher Block Co. warrants that the exact length, width and thickness of any countertop will not vary from specifications by more than 1/8 of an inch.

This warranty will be voided automatically and immediately in the event that:

  • you neglect to apply natural oil to ALL surfaces of an unfinished countertop every day for at least 7 days after receipt, or to apply polyurethane or varnish to ALL its surfaces within 7 days of receipt;
  • you neglect to apply natural oil to ALL surfaces of countertop pre-finished with natural oil every day for at least 7 days after receipt;
  • you neglect to install the countertop within 10 days of receipt;

or if the countertop:
  • is not installed in accordance with the installation instructions provided;
  • includes a cutout for a sink or appliance, or is modified in any way, other than as necessary for normal and customary installation;
  • is exposed to extremes in, or wide swings in, temperature or humidity;
  • is exposed to water, other than minor splashes or spills that were immediately wiped up; or
  • is not properly maintained and re-oiled at least monthly.


  • Variations in color and/or grain are not considered defects.
  • Minor warping is not considered a defect.
  • No promise can be made with respect to the ratio of heartwood to sapwood in any countertop.

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