Biggest one ever (WIP)

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John Loftis

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I've done numerous countertops over the years, and I think the biggest end grain I've done to date was 11' long X 25" wide X 2" deep.

This one sets a new record for my little shop... 93" long, 50" wide, 2 3/8" thick, solid walnut. Each strip was numbered and sequenced, creating a continuous flow of the wood grain through the entire length of the block. The process for something like this is different in a number of ways, so thought I'd show how we did it. It's been 4-5 days of milling and glue ups so far.

Pictures are as of today; I'll post some of the finished product next week. This thing is HEAVY. Going to have some sore arms.

Glued up 2 big walnut panels, and split them into 2 sub-panels each for ease of milling:
IMG_6600.JPG

Cross-cut the strips, panel one sequenced and numbered and panel 2 sequenced and numbered. Alternated strips from panel 1 and 2:
IMG_6602.JPG


Getting all the strips laid out properly in the clamp rack. Gluing this up in 3 sub-panels:
IMG_6615.JPG

IMG_6606.JPG

On something this large, there are inevitably going to be little pin holes, voids, etc. The wood was very clean this time, but if I saw something I didn't like, I filled it with a little black resin.
IMG_6635.JPG


The three sub-panels became one monster this morning. I used four, 5" wide cauls of solid walnut to keep the sub-panels flat and in-plane with each other.
IMG_6649.JPG


Will let everything cure and then get back to it on Monday.
 

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WildBoar

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Wow, looks like a nice project for you!
 

Nikabrik

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Wow, that's incredible! Thank you for sharing. I've definitely never seen anything like that.
 

HRC_64

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Cool writeup and alsways interesting to see projects that force you to push the envelope
Curious what is the end-use application? Some kind of counter-top or massive Island?
 

Michi

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Please keep those picture coming. I would love to see the completed board, and also what it looks like once it is finally installed!
 

John Loftis

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Cool writeup and alsways interesting to see projects that force you to push the envelope
Curious what is the end-use application? Some kind of counter-top or massive Island?
They are using it as a show-piece island top. I can't wait to see it installed (hope they have a nice kitchen...).
 

John Loftis

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I'm trying to be very, very patient on this build. Flattened the sub-pieces, then waited 3-4 days. Re-flattened, glued up the big boy, and am now waiting another 5 days just in case things want to move. We should finish this up on Tuesday. Here's where it is as of now.
IMG_6652.JPG
 

pennman

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Wow! How did you manage to chamfer that so evenly?
 

daddy yo yo

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If the owner doesn't like it, you can always cut it into pieces and those will sell quickly here... ;)
 

John Loftis

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Utterly amazing! The owner will be thrilled, I'm sure! What was the problem with it?
I built this over the course of 3 weeks. I knew with something this large I needed to go slowly and give the wood plenty of time to move. We couldn't oil the butcher block until I was confident things were fairly stable, because once it's oiled, it really can't be sanded. And sanding is how you flatten butcher block. We had issues with the island top not wanting to stay dead flat. In hindsight, I think if I'd gone around 3" thick it would have helped (rather than 2 3/8", which was as much as the customer would pay for). But I think with this one, we are pushing the boundaries of what can/should be done in butcher block surface area. In the future, I'd be fine with going longer, but 50" is pushing it, width-wise. I don't have any other data points on butcher block this big, so I'm not certain about that. It's more of a gut feeling.

Once we oiled it, the butcher block absorbed 150 ounces of mineral oil!! I'm hoping that the oil will help stabilize the wood and keep things flat. (Moisture in the air is what invites warping, and the mineral oil will greatly inhibit the moisture in the air from penetrating the block).

One of the things I can say with confidence now is that when a butcher block warps, applying moisture (spritz it heavily with a spray bottle, or give it a quick rinse on that side only under the sink) to the CONCAVE side and putting a fan on the concave side will help flatten it. It will be less effective on an oiled butcher block than on an un-oiled butcher block, but it should still help/work.

Phew. Like I said, lots of lessons learned on this one.
 

HRC_64

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looks great ! after 10 pounds of mineral oil ;)

Question: does the installation "free-float" the block to allow for future dimesnional changes?
if not will it be stressed internally from changes in environment/moisture etc?
 

John Loftis

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looks great ! after 10 pounds of mineral oil ;)

Question: does the installation "free-float" the block to allow for future dimesnional changes?
if not will it be stressed internally from changes in environment/moisture etc?
Yes the block has to be installed using either slotted screw holes, or Z clips, or figure 8 clips, or some other method that allows the wood to expand and contract (particularly in width rather than in length).
 

Aleque

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Beautiful craftsmanship! As far as cost, is it roughly the same price per square foot as other pieces? Or does the customer get some cost savings up to a certain point?
 

Michi

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Or does the customer get some cost savings up to a certain point?
Not that I'm an expert, but I'd be surprised if this were cheaper per square foot than a board. It's much more time consuming to make something as large as this, and the risk of something going wrong is much larger (as are the costs if something does indeed go wrong).
 
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