Fast-Rising Demand Is Driving Black Walnut Lumber Prices to Record Highs

Fast-Rising Demand Is Driving Black Walnut Lumber Prices to Record Highs

Black Walnut – North America’s Most Valuable Wood – Nears a Tipping Point

Black Walnut – considered America’s premier timber for furniture making since the country’s founding – is enjoying such a surge in popularity that it now faces a crisis of affordability. Over the past several years, worldwide demand has jumped to levels never seen before. Since the U.S. does not grow enough of the trees to satisfy this rapidly expanding demand, walnut lumber prices are spiraling ever higher.

A recent price survey revealed that high-quality, two-inch-thick Black Walnut lumber was selling for $11 per board foot, making it 70% more expensive than Cherry – another American favorite; and double the price of Maple – America’s most popular hardwood. What drives Black Walnut’s appeal is its remarkable and variable coloration – a blend of cream, light yellow and medium-to-dark browns. The wood’s lighter colors trace to its sapwood – the outermost portion of a tree’s trunk, branches and stems; whereas the darker colors come from the tree’s heartwood (dead wood near its center).

Long considered America’s “go-to” choice for such high-end furniture, over the past several years, overseas manufacturers have discovered huge demand for American Black Walnut in their home markets. Plus, they are now importing walnut lumber from the U.S. and converting it into finished products, such as flooring, for exporting back to the United States.

Black Walnut is also gaining popularity within the interior design community.

Despite walnut’s higher prices, demand for the wood steadily increases. Designers and homemakers have always embraced natural wood countertops, but they really like the dark, rich and varied look of black walnut and they use it to top kitchen counters, islands and tables. Also, interest in live-edge walnut slabs is also on the rise. They can be made into rustic-looking countertops or spectacular tables for dining rooms or conference rooms.

One U.S. company that relies on a steady and abundant supply of walnut lumber every year is Illinois-based John Boos & Co. Boos converts black walnut, plus three other North American hardwoods – hard maple, cherry and red oak – into butcher block tops for kitchen counters and islands, dining and work tables, kitchen carts and cutting boards too. Last fall, Boos raised prices on walnut countertops by 9% – three times the increase they enacted on maple, cherry and oak countertops.

Asked whether he is concerned about the steady advances in walnut lumber prices since then, Ted Gravenhorst, Jr., Boos’ VP of Sales and Marketing, said, “Like any manufacturer, Boos hates to ever raise prices, but sometimes we simply have no choice. We continue to monitor the situation closely. Based on current trends, we can’t rule out the possibility of another walnut price change before the year is out. That’s almost unprecedented, but it gives you an idea of the wood’s rapidly growing popularity.”

Black walnut trees (species: Juglans nigra), which can be found throughout the central and eastern U.S., can grow to be 100 feet tall and three to four feet in diameter. Typically found as scattered lone specimens or in small isolated groups within hardwood stands, they account for only about 5 percent of U.S. hardwood forests in total. It takes almost a century for a black walnut tree to fully mature, making it worth tens of thousands of dollars. When the U.S. was first settled, these trees were so common that they were used as firewood, fence posts and even railroad ties. Today, they’re so valuable that they are sometimes the target of tree thieves!

This industry news update is presented by Butcher Block Co. For more information, please visit

Contact Info:
Name: Kathleen Grodsky
Organization: Butcher Block Co.
Address: 10448 N 21st Pl Phoenix, Arizona 85028


Butcher Block Co. Happy Customer Photos

Butcher Block Co. Happy Customer Photos

We love getting customer photos showing off the new Butcher Block Co. countertops and furniture in their homes! Our feature photo above highlights Walter’s New York kitchen with a Butcher Block Co. brand maple edge grain countertop inset into his quartz island countertop. The blending of natural materials like wood and stone helps to showcase the individual textural and color differences. In Walter’s kitchen renovation, it resulted in a clean, bright, and modern space. Very trendy and gorgeous!

In the recent research report, Houzz 2018 U.S. Kitchen Trends Study, we discovered some other enlightening trends regarding homeowners renovating their kitchens:

  • Homeowners who are remodeling their kitchens are paying quite a bit of attention to countertops.
  • Countertops are the most common kitchen upgrade (94 percent), followed by sinks (89 percent) and backsplashes (88 percent).
  • And countertops are the top feature (at 42 percent) on which home renovators are willing to spend a little extra.
  • The U-shaped layout of kitchens is no longer the most popular option (32 percent), as the L-shaped layout has made a comeback over the last two years (35 percent).
  • Finally, the study revealed that 75 percent of renovating homeowners are obsessed with clutter-free countertops, preferring a more minimalistic appearance.

Our customers typically order butcher block tops to serve as either kitchen island tops or kitchen countertops. Our John Boos custom tops can be ordered with stove and sink cutouts, scrap hole cutouts, miter cuts and angle cuts.  Other creative uses for our butcher block tops include laundry room counters, office desks, table tops, bar tops, workshops and more. (Check out our blog for other Creative Uses for Butcher Block).

John Boos countertops come in standard and custom sizes, in four species of wood: Maple, Walnut, Cherry and Oak. The most popular grain styles are edge and blended grain, but traditional end grain is available, too.

Butcher Block Co. brand countertops are custom made to your dimensions and offer you 15 different wood species from which to choose! They are also available in end and edge grain, but the most trendy selection is plank-style tops.

Watch our Happy Customer Photo Short Video

Visit our Happy Customer Photos Gallery to learn more about the butcher block you see below.
customer photos

Mineral Oil Applicator Makes It Easy to Care For Your Butcher Block

Mineral Oil Applicator Makes It Easy to Care For Your Butcher Block

Our customers love their butcher blocks. Many folks invest a great deal of money in their cutting board, butcher block table, or countertop, so it goes without saying that they will want to protect their investment with proper butcher block care. And proper care means oiling your natural finish butcher block once a month!

Butcher block is a natural, “living” product that responds to the environment around it. It will lose moisture through repeated use, washings and simple evaporation. On top of that, temperature and humidity fluctuations brought about by seasonal weather changes can increase the risk for an untreated butcher block to dry out and possibly crack!  Don’t let that happen. Here is what you need to do:  Watch our short video – How To Care For Your Butcher Block

An especially effective maintenance regimen involves the use of both block oil and board cream using an easy-to-use mineral oil applicator:

  • MOISTURIZE butcher block with a food-grade mineral oil once a month to keep it from drying and cracking. We recommend you first apply a coat of John Boos Mystery Oil . This mineral oil based product will penetrate deep into the block, moisturizing the wood.
  • PROTECT butcher block by applying a beeswax board cream to lock in the moisture and provide a protective barrier. After the mineral oil application, apply John Boos Beeswax Board Cream to lock in the moisture and leave a silky, wax barrier on the surface of the wood.

This one-two punch, using both oil and cream, is an especially effective maintenance regimen.

Now, it is even easier than ever to extend the beauty and life of any butcher block with this no-mess mineral oil applicator. Use it to apply both block oil and cream to your butcher block every 4 weeks. Mineral Oil Applicator

Visit our Butcher Block Co. Help Center for more information on care and repair of butcher block.

Reuse Project – Butcher Block Table

Reuse Project – Butcher Block Table

America Recycles Day is November 15th. In honor of this day, and in the spirit of doing whatever we can every day to help our earth, we have embarked on a project to reuse some damaged butcher block.

Reuse is the practice of using something again, whether for its original purpose or to fulfill a different function.

We acquired some large commercial butcher block tops that were damaged in shipping. When they were returned to us they were extremely beat up and would have been destined for scrap. But not in this house! I would say we have great vision and can see value in many things other folks discard. This 8′ x 4′ x 2.25” Edge Grain Maple Butcher Block had gouges, cracks and scuff marks, yet we knew it could be given new life.

butcher block countertop

Concept – Butcher Block Bar Height Table

My son, Ben, is now in his senior year at ASU majoring in Industrial Design. One of his projects this summer was to research and design kitchen islands. He came up with a unique design for a bar height kitchen island made with angle iron, rebar and butcher block. He calls this industrial style island the “Truss Table.” We knew we could reuse this damaged butcher block to serve as the top and base of his new table.

Butcher Block Truss Table

Step One – Prep the butcher block.

The first step was to repair the cracked butcher block. Using gorilla glue and bar clamps we successfully pulled the laminated rails back together. Then using the table saw, we cut the large butcher block down to the desired size for the 72″ x 36″ table top and the beams to make the base. Given the damage on the top was significant, we ran the butcher block through a surface sander. Then we finished sanding by hand with an orbital sander using 80 grit to 150 grit paper. All edges were then eased.

Butcher Block cut

Step Two – Build the frame and base.

This was the first time Ben welded and he taught himself while welding the frame together. He cut the angle iron legs to size and all metal was sent to be powder coated in black matte.  While that was being done, he then built the wood foot rest/base of the table. To create the “truss design” with the rebar, a special jig was made to make certain the angles drilled into the base and table top lined up correctly.

Butcher Block Pieces

Step Three – Stain and Finish the wood.

Hard Rock Maple has a very tight grain and is difficult, if not impossible, to stain…or so I thought. However, we discovered a product called a “dye stain” that works extremely well. This product is water based and only required one coat to give this blonde maple top a rich cherry color. The only thing we noticed was that it raised the grain a bit, which we dealt with during finishing. Our new favorite top coat is General Finishes brand Arm-R-Seal Oil and Urethane Top Coat.  We applied a coat and let it dry. Then we used 0000 steel wool over it to help smooth the raised grain. We repeated this 2 more times, with finish and steel wool. The final coat (4th top coat) was then applied (do not steel wool over the last coat). The resulting top was as smooth as glass!

Butcher Block stain

Dye Stain and finish

Step Four – Assemble the table.

Given the table was designed to spec in Solid Works, prior to building, when it came to assembly, it was straightforward and only took one hour to assemble completely!  Ben would agree, that designing and building your own table may not pay much given all the hours it takes, but the satisfaction in creating a one-of-a-kind table is well worth it.  And we reused butcher block that would have been wasted and reused angle iron and rebar from the scrap yard. A job well done!

Maple Butcher Block Kitchen Island

BONUS – Maple Butcher Block Work Bench.

A second butcher block arrived totally broken in half down its length. We were able to reuse the smaller piece and transform it into a workbench 8′ x 2′. A chamfer edge and urethane top coat made this workbench good enough to eat off of!

Butcher Block Workbench

Read our other Creative Reuse/Recycling Blogs:

Happy Customers – Island Upgrades

Happy Customers – Island Upgrades

We love when our happy customers show off their beautiful butcher blocks! This week we are highlighting two gorgeous island upgrades, one featuring a standard size John Boos Blended Walnut top, and the other using custom Butcher Block Co. American Cherry Plank-style butcher block. Both look beautiful and add warmth and function to the kitchens.

The first of our happy customers is Rachel from Colorado. Rachel’s 97″ X 36″ Blended Walnut island top has a Varnique semi-gloss finish, which is ideal since this is being used as an eating area as well as extended work space. What an impact!

Happy Customers Blended Walnut

Happy customer #2 is Teri from Tennessee. We worked with Teri extensively to find the perfect style and fit for her kitchen island. This plank-style American Cherry block is a unique and beautiful accent to her kitchen. Having chosen the natural oil finish, Teri can use this block for all her chopping and food prep. Teri’s project proves it is worth it to put in a little extra time and effort to get things just right – it looks fantastic!

Happy Customers Cherry Plank

We want to see what you’ve done, too. The more happy customers, the better! Send us your photos and we may feature you on our social media pages. We love to see them, and so do our other customers!

John Boos & Co. Opens a New $16-Million Illinois Wood Plant

John Boos & Co. Opens a New $16-Million Illinois Wood Plant

Butcher Block Maker John Boos & Co. Celebrates Triple Milestones

Boos Commemorates the Making of Boos Block Number 13,000,000 in the Company’s 130th Year, Plus the Opening of a New $16-Million Illinois Wood Plant

At 3pm CDT on Tuesday, August 29th, former and current Boos & Co. staff members and local dignitaries congregated in Effingham, Illinois to mark the making of the thirteen millionth Boos butcher block. Since 1887 Boos has been manufacturing such butcher block products as countertops, kitchen islands, dining and work tables, rolling carts and cutting boards in this Central Illinois community.

Several years ago, when Boos had to decide where to build its new, state-of-the-art wood products manufacturing plant, it wasn’t a difficult decision, according to company President, Joe Emmerich. “We are committed to making our products right here, where we were founded,” he exclaimed.

Boos & Co. has been doing business in Effingham continuously since 1887. That’s the year in which Conrad Boos, the father of John, after whom the company is named, created the first of what would eventually be called butcher blocks. The elder Boos processed a slab of Sycamore wood at the family sawmill and mounted it on three wooden legs, creating a sturdy work table for his blacksmith shop. When a local butcher saw Conrad’s creation, he requested one for his meat shop. Young John Boos accommodated the butcher’s request and started a new American industry. Although the new wood plant is lightyears more technologically advanced than its predecessor, the manufacturing processes Boos employs are largely unchanged from those Conrad and John Boos developed 130 years ago.

The company’s new wood plant encompasses 116,000 square feet – larger than two football fields – and sits on a 27-acre campus that also houses Company headquarters and a modern manufacturing facility where Boos makes work tables, enclosed base cabinets and commercial sinks, all made of stainless steel and mostly destined for commercial food service establishments. Noting Boos’ significance to the town and the region, Effingham’s mayor, Jeff Blemaker, declared in a company release, “The impact John Boos has had on the Effingham area economy is immeasurable.”

This industry news update is provided by Butcher Block Co. – a leading online dealer of John Boos residential and commercial products, including wood and steel countertops; butcher blocks; butcher block tables, islands, carts and cutting boards; and stainless steel tables, enclosed base cabinets and commercial sinks.

For more information, please visit

Contact Info:
Name: Kathleen Grodsky
Organization: Butcher Block Co.

Summer Restaurant Week Featuring John Boos Commercial Grade Products

Summer Restaurant Week Featuring John Boos Commercial Grade Products

We’re celebrating Summer Restaurant Week here at Butcher Block Co. with John Boos commercial grade products. Whether you have  a bakery, deli, cafe, or large restaurant, you can trust in John Boos NSF-approved equipment. We offer a variety of John Boos commercial grade products designed to stand up to the wear and tear of restaurant kitchens, all while helping you work efficiently, run smoothly, and look good doing it!

If you are looking to upgrade your restaurant or other food service kitchen, check out our John Boos commercial grade products for the highest in quality.

For “back of house” products, we offer prep tables available in wood, stainless steel, or poly tops; stainless steel sinks with up to four basins, with and without drain boards; stainless steel cabinets with optional doors and/or drawers, in both maple and stainless tops; custom and standard size commercial grade butcher block countertops in hard rock maple; and a variety of NSF-approved cutting boards and chopping blocks. John Boos commercial grade products are top of the line — that’s why you see them in restaurant kitchens across the country, and on nearly every cooking show on TV.

John Boos commercial grade

If you’re looking to jazz up the “front of house,” Boos has you covered with restaurant quality dining table tops and bases. Available in maple, red oak, cherry, or walnut, there are a variety of standard sizes from which to choose. If you need something outside the standard parameters, contact us to get a quote for custom sizes and shapes. Traditional black metal bases are sold separately and come in both dining and bar height, and in disc, cross, or T style. If you really want to make a statement, consider a custom bar top. A gorgeous butcher block top spanning the length of your bar makes a huge visual impact and is sure to impress your patrons. Butcher block is both durable and beautiful, and will bring warmth and class to your dining room.

John Boos commercial grade

If you are a restaurateur, be sure to consider our business financing for commercial food service equipment. It is as simple as a click of a button with this 30 second online application. Now it can be easy to purchase your John Boos commercial products.

commercial financing


Butcher Block Co. Loves Hard Maple, Also Used To Make Bowling Lanes and Pins!

Butcher Block Co. Loves Hard Maple, Also Used To Make Bowling Lanes and Pins!

National Bowling Day is celebrated this week, with most activities held on the second Saturday of August, which is August 12th this year.

If you’re in the know, you likely know that we all owe a debt of gratitude to the Egyptians alive circa 3200 BC for inventing the pastime. They employed “balls” made of the husks of grains bound together with strands of various ancient plants, and later balls made of porcelain.

Fast forward to the 1880s. That’s when Brunswick Corporation began making bowling balls, pins, and wooden lanes and selling them to local tavern owners seeking ways to entice patrons to spend more time onsite. But it wasn’t until the 1950s that the Golden Age of Ten-Pin Bowling hit full stride and professional bowlers earned incomes rivaling those of other sports professionals.

Bowling Lanes Are Made of Soft Pine and Hard Maple

Why, you might wonder, does any of this interest Butcher Block Co. and its loyal followers? Here’s why. Not only are bowling lanes constructed of hard rock maple – one of our favorite North American hardwoods and the most popular of them all – so too are bowling pins.

Think about it: bowling lanes are subjected to repeated physical abuse, day in and day out. Consider the fact that the typical bowling ball – made of polyurethane and an outer layer of resin that reduces bounce and allows the ball to roll smoothly – weighs as much as 16 pounds and is hurtled through the air and onto the lane from heights as high as five feet. It’s only natural to wonder, what type of material can possibly endure such abuse?

While some bowling alleys are made of synthetic materials, authentic lanes are comprised of wood – typically pine and maple. Pine, a softwood, is used for much of the lane – the section between the ball landing zone and the pin deck. The approach, landing zone and pin deck are made of maple, however. Maple is used at the front and back of the bowling lanes simply because it’s so durable (hard and dense). Maple is better able to withstand the force of heavy balls dropped on it, as well as the stress on the far end from heavy wooden pins being flung against it.

Bowling Pins Are Made of Hard Maple, Too!

See bowling pins as well, are crafted out of rugged maple blocks that are turned on lathes to be transformed into the classic, iconic bowling-pin shape before being coated with plastic and finished with a high-gloss lacquer paint.

So What Should You Do to Celebrate National Bowling Day?

Obviously, get out and bowl a game or two, preferably with others, since some among us look askance at solo bowlers, sometimes disparagingly called “sowlers.” Better yet, get the whole gang together and try some “rock and roll” bowling or midnight bowling. There’s no better way to honor the sport and friends at the same time. If you have not bowled lately, you will be amazed at what a modern bowling alley has to offer…large screen TVs everywhere, music videos, sports channels, colorful lights, automated scoring, and more!

Five Important Things To Know Before Installing Butcher Block Countertops

Five Important Things To Know Before Installing Butcher Block Countertops

We sell a lot of butcher block countertops to DIY homeowners, contractors and designers. As “the experts in all thing butcher block,” we are happy to share our knowledge and tips to all of our customers and readers. Probably the MOST IMPORTANT ADVICE we can give you about your butcher block countertop, is how to install it correctly! I can’t emphasize enough, the importance of these 5 things to know BEFORE installing butcher block countertops.


A very important consideration when installing butcher block countertops, that even some contractors forget about, is to be certain to DRILL EXPANSION HOLES IN THE BASE that will support your butcher block. installing butcher block to base


  • WHY? It’s important to allow a butcher block to adjust to its new environment prior to installation, to prevent cracking or splitting.
  • At least 72 hours prior to installation, place the countertop in the room where it will be installed.
  • Do not place it directly on a floor or table to acclimate as this could cause warping. Instead, place the block on 2 x 4s set on their ends and spaced 12 to 18 inches apart. This should allow air to flow freely across the butcher block’s top and bottom.


  • WHY? Expansion holes will ultimately allow the installed butcher block to “float” or slightly move as it will want to do with changes in temperature or humidity in the surrounding environment.
  • Using a 3/8” bit, drill expansion holes in the sub-top, or base cabinet near the corners where the butcher block will be attached.
  • Tops installed without expansion holes will likely NOT be covered under warranty.


  • WHY? Screwing into butcher block without pilot holes might crack the wood!
  • Place the countertop in position. On its underside, mark the location of each expansion hole and drill pilot holes into the top’s underside using a 5/32” drill bit.
  • Make the pilot holes only deep enough to accommodate the full length of the screws you selected.
  • General rule is, the screw should be only long enough to go 1/2 way into the thickness of the block.
  • Place a washer on a screw and drive the screw upward,from the underside of the sub-top, through an expansion hole and into a pilot hole. Make sure the washer is large enough to cover the expansion hole. Do not over-tighten the screw. Repeat the procedure for each expansion/pilot hole.


  • WHY? Glue anchors the wood too tightly and might cause it to crack and warp sometime after installing butcher block.
  • Do not glue your butcher block to any supporting structure. Because wood will slightly expand and contract with changes in temperature and humidity you must allow it to move.
  • While silicone glue is more pliable, it is still not recommended.
  • Any resulting damage from using glue will likely NOT be covered under warranty, so don’t take any chances.


  • WHY? Butcher block needs “breathing” room on all surfaces, given it will slightly expand and contract with changes in temperature and moisture.
  • The standard procedure for mounting countertops is to place them over the base kitchen cabinets.
  • If you are remodeling, be sure to remove the prior kitchen countertop completely before you mount a butcher block countertop.
  • If it’s not possible/practical to remove underlayment such as particle board or MDF, cut large holes in it to promote ventilation.

Please reference this blog post before installing butcher block countertops to help prevent damage and keep your warranty in place. Plus, view our detailed installation instructions for John Boos butcher block countertops.

Visit our website to see our standard size butcher block countertops or use our online instant quote tool for pricing custom butcher block countertops from John Boos and Butcher Block Co.



Summertime Care for Your Butcher Block Starts with Mineral Oil!

Summertime Care for Your Butcher Block Starts with Mineral Oil!

Whether you have a traditional end-grain butcher block, a butcher block countertop, or a cutting board version, it is critical this summer that you apply mineral oil to your butcher block.

Moisturize – Butcher Block with an oil finish needs to be re-oiled with mineral oil to keep it from drying and cracking.

Summertime is here!  Temperature and humidity changes could cause your butcher block to dry and crack. Exposure to extremes in humidity can swell and shrink a butcher block enough to cause checks in its surface. And high temperatures certainly can dry out the wood and cause cracks. What is the remedy? Oil your butcher block with food-grade mineral oil!

You can extend the beauty and life of any butcher block with a natural oil finish by reapplying butcher block mineral oil NOW and every 4 weeks.

If you use your block every day, moisturize more often. This will help prevent it from drying out and cracking.

Apply a generous amount of mineral oil to the butcher block surface then spread it evenly using a plastic grocery bag. (This is preferred to using a cloth, which will absorb too much oil). Smooth it over the entire top and sides of the block. Allow it to stand overnight. In the morning, remove any excess oil with a paper towel.

Protect – Reapply a board cream to lock in moisture and provide a protective barrier.

An especially effective maintenance regimen involves the use of both block oil and board cream. We recommend you first apply a coat of John Boos Mystery Oil (their proprietary mineral oil based product) following the instructions above. The mineral oil will penetrate deep into the block moisturizing the wood. Then apply John Boos Beeswax Board Cream to lock in the moisture and leave a silky, wax barrier on the surface of the wood. Mineral Oil and Cream

Avoid Sun and Water – Store your butcher block and cutting boards out of direct sunlight and keep them away from standing water.

Direct sunlight on wood is a no-no. When possible, move your wood blocks, cutting boards, and even wooden utensils out of direct sunlight.  And always wipe up spills on butcher block right away. Any standing water on a butcher block, especially one that is not moisturized and sealed, can cause damage.

Given the cost of butcher block can be significant, caring for your butcher block will protect your investment down the road. 

More Butcher Block Care

These helpful tips are applicable any time of year, not just summertime. So, remember to keep your butcher block healthy and protect your investment with a little tender loving mineral oil care.  If you seek more information, reference our Complete Butcher Block Care and Repair Guide.