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Butchers Block type things . .

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Hello All,

In an ideal world I'd like to make a heavy top for a kitchen unit, cooker top size and around 3 inches thick in maple/sycamore. Now the problem bit, it's to be framed with a 1 1/2" wide ripple sycamore frame with keyed mitred corners. The obvious flaw in all this is that it makes for a big solid block of wood with no allowance for any movement. Any bright ideas and suggestions would be much appreciated. (And 'I wouldn't do it like that' is perfectly allowable!)

I believe that proper old fashioned butchers blocks have threaded bars through them to tighten them as required, but I've found painfully little of real use on the web. Has anyone got any experience / suggestions or links on (smaller) butchers block style construction?

Thanks,
Graham W
 

Aragorn

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I am making a butcher's chopping block on a mobile trolley this month too as a part of a complete kitchen build.
I am also wrapping the end-grain chopping block in 1x3 oak.
The movement solution I have come up with is to angle the sides of the block and the inside of the wrapping frame. I will make the frame as a solid unit, so the block just sits in the frame, held in place by the taper of the angled sides.
As it expands it *should* be forced to rise up rather than outwards and bust the frame. That's the theory anyway!
Maybe this helps the description:



I'd appreciate other people's thoughts as to whether this is gonna work! :wink:
 

johnelliott

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Aragorn":2le7hskk said:
I'd appreciate other people's thoughts as to whether this is gonna work!
It's a neat idea, and I'm sure it will work depending on the angle. Obviously the further from vertical the less likely the central block to stick to the sides of the frame.
John
 

Chris Knight

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Aragorn,
That is a very clever idea. I guess as John says the key to success will be chossing the correct angle. Anyway, it gets my vote as the coolest idea this month!
 

DaveL

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Very ingenious, hope it works out OK. 8)

Maybe the owner should be told to take the block out of the frame now and again to stop it wedging tight and bursting out the sides? :?
 

Aragorn

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Thanks for your encouragement!
The angle will be crucial. Also the drawing isn't to scale - I imagined I would cut the block angle slightly steeper than the frame angle to minimise the point of contact. This should help prevent it jamming.
I can't really test this idea beforehand, so your comments are reassuring. I'll let you know how it gets on in a few weeks time!
 
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It's certainly an elegant idea. I would guess the angle would need to be quite steep for movement to be able to overcome friction, that and minimizing the point of contact as you describe. Let us know after it's had a while of wet things being chopped on it in a centrally heated kitchen!
 

Shadowfax

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Norm made one using Aragorn's idea!
I can't remember what the angle of the side of the block was but I seem to recall that there were two angles involved. The answer could be to post the question to New Yankee Workshop or maybe ...buy the plans (sorry?!!)
I am wondering now if there were two angles on the frame sides so as to form a slight sharpish highpoint for the block to travel over, rather than have it jammed in the frame.
Does that make sense?

SF
 

Bean

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Aragorn
I think the idea of having two angles would be worth pursuing. The two angles would need to be on the frame with the single angle on the end grain block. In this way the end grain block would have a clearance at the bottom. The whole point of this is to reduce the contact surface area and friction, so that the two will slide across each other easily. The sliding motion will also be eased by making the point at which the two angles on the frame meet rounded, ie put a small rad on instead of an angle as the angle will cause the sliding block to jam.


Am I making any sense at all :?: :?

Bean

Off for a lie down :wink:
 

Shadowfax

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I think that is what I said! Possibly. Well, in my head that is what I was thinking, anyway.
Reducing the size of the point of contact between the block and the frame is definitely the thing.
So now we have three angles. One for the block sides and two on the frame sides. (Or the other way round, of course). All pretty much the same but different enough to allow the block to move.
Now... what is the best combination?
I have no idea but I would love to know.

SF
 

Dewy

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Aragorn":1ljd4rug said:
I am making a butcher's chopping block on a mobile trolley this month too as a part of a complete kitchen build.
I am also wrapping the end-grain chopping block in 1x3 oak.
The movement solution I have come up with is to angle the sides of the block and the inside of the wrapping frame. I will make the frame as a solid unit, so the block just sits in the frame, held in place by the taper of the angled sides.
As it expands it *should* be forced to rise up rather than outwards and bust the frame. That's the theory anyway!
Maybe this helps the description:



I'd appreciate other people's thoughts as to whether this is gonna work! :wink:
Aragorn, have you seen the butchers block on New Yankee Workshop?
Norm used a double angle for the same reason.
Most of the block had a steeper angle allowing lots of expansion wth only the top inch or so at the shallow angle to allow the top to rise.
 

Aragorn

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Thanks for the info about Norm's block. Knew I couldn't have been the first to come to this solution. (Damn, it would be Norm though, wouldn't it! :twisted: )
It will probably be worth buying the plans since I'd prefer to get it right first time. I don't fancy making a second 850x420 walnut endgrain chopping block at my expense! :shock:
Mind you, if anyone who saw Norm's version can remember... Can you clarify the angles please? Were the two angles like this:


Here the higher angle is matched, whilst the lower part falls away. I suppose this gives less friction but provides some more support for the block

Or this:


Here there are three angles, so that the point of contact is very small. Can't see the benefit here of the third lower angle mind you, but Norm may have thought of something.

Thanks again
 

Bean

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Aragorn I think you are looking at the first of your sketches as that will support the chopping block.

Bean
 

Shadowfax

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Aragorn
I'm not sure but I think there might be some merit in having the point of contact lower down. In other words the join between the block and the sides is very slightly open. The gap would not be highly noticeable but the two angles on the sides would form a suppport for the block lower down each side that was in effect no more than a ridge. Less friction should lead to better movement.
Does that make sense?

SF
 

andrewm

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Shadowfax wrote:

I'm not sure but I think there might be some merit in having the point of contact lower down. In other words the join between the block and the sides is very slightly open. The gap would not be highly noticeable but the two angles on the sides would form a suppport for the block lower down each side that was in effect no more than a ridge. Less friction should lead to better movement.
Does that make sense?
Just a thought. Won't that leave a small gap in just right place for water to get down and cause the wood to swell in the first place?

Andrew
 

johnelliott

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Couple of points comes to mind, what if your client actually does some chopping? Pretty much the same effect as a mallet, driving the wedge shaped board further into the frame. And if the angles are arranged so that the contact point is below the top edge of the framework, might gungy stuff get down into the gap?
In fact, thinking about this some more, what if the idea of the angles was dropped, and a really strong framework made? If the frame was strong enough then the endgrain blocks would not be able to expand. I have a feeling I remember seeing chopping tables in butchers' shops with big iron brackets at the corners, or maybe I'm imagining it.
John
 

blurk99

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when i worked in a butchers as an assistant he had a 'proper' cutting table, about 18" square and the legs at the corners extended up to the top surface. The surface was about 4" thick and a 2-3" wide steel band ran right round the sides and could be tightened by 2 bolts - a bit like a massive jubliee clip if you get the description. I never had a good look at it was i wasn't into this sort of stuff then (aged 15 and getting paid £1.45 / hour) but it had to go for health and safety reasons - too much grot was getting trapped in the band i think.

Jim
 

Rattie

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I'm pretty sure I've seen them with steel straps round them, halfway up.

Would it not be possible to construct the frame leaving an expansion gap which you then fill with cork? That's what one generally does with pukka parquet flooring. The cork could then be sealed using a bead of silicone.

Just a lateral thought.

Martyn
 

Aragorn

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johnelliott":j4mu93ah said:
...what if the idea of the angles was dropped, and a really strong framework made?
Well John, I had thought of this, but I don't much fancy the idea of going up against the natural movement of wood. They're pretty strong those forces!
It's not just expansion - what if the thing contracts? There needs to be a mechanism whereby there will never be a gap between the block and the frame.
Metal strapping of any kind is simply not an option because of the customer's vision of the trolley. My kind of customer - everything is wood!
I have seen a fantastic chopping block that had a simple straight frame, but it had big bolts going right through it all both ways. I think the idea was you could tighten it all up if necessary, but as I remember, much of the edges where the gap would be was filled with a load of unsavoury looking gloop! It may just have been wax, but it wasn't very sanitary!

About it getting wedged in... it doesn't ever need to be removed. It just needs the possibility of moving. The question is, will it rise and fall or split the mitres of the frame :?

Guess I'll let you know in a year or two!

Thanks again for your thoughts. I'll keep them in mind when I make my final decision.
 

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