The Interesting Origin Story of Butcher Blocks

The term “butcher block” has become one of the most popular buzzwords in the kitchen and wood top business over the last couple of years.


Modern White Oak and Zebrawood End Grain Butcher Block Countertop
Modern White Oak and Zebrawood End Grain Countertop

What is a “butcher block” and how is it different from your regular wood countertop?


Butcher blocks originated in China several centuries ago and expanded through Europe and around the world. They were traditionally used by butchers to cut meat and were typically made of laminated hardwood, like maple. A butcher block in a butcher shop will usually be more than 5 inches thick, and true to the name, looks more like a square block than a cutting board or countertop you may see today.


Traditional Antique Wood Butcher Block Cutting Board
Traditional Antique Butcher's Block

Today, however, the term "butcher block" is used more loosely and may refer to a thick wood cutting board, island, or top. When many think of a butcher block, they may think of a thick end grain cutting board or a large wood island.


Sapele End Grain Butcher Block Cutting Board
Sapele End Grain Cutting Board

End grain is a great grain type to go with for a butcher block if you’re looking for a surface to cut on frequently. The end grain is cut with the direction of the tree growth, resulting in an extremely durable surface. The complexity of the grain in an end grain top can also make for an interesting focal piece in any kitchen.