How to Hide Seams in Butcher Block Countertops

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Last updated: March 22, 2023

Classic butcher block countertops have now become a favorite alternative to dated laminate. What I love the most about butcher blocks is that, unlike solid surfaces or stone, you can quickly fabricate them in your garage or basement workshop, which makes this the ideal DIY project that can give your kitchen a whole new transformation even if you’re on a budget.  

But one of the main concerns I often hear from other DIYers is how to hide seams in butcher block countertops. While pants and shirts are expected to have seams, what happens if your counters have them, too?  

Learn how to hide seams in butcher block countertops

Unlike garments and clothing, seams in your countertops are permanent. Since they will be there for a lifetime, you don’t want them in the wrong location, which can blatantly ruin your counter’s appearance and continuity.  

More often than not, seams are almost inevitable. But once done correctly and meticulously, there won’t be any issues with their presence. I should mention that some countertop materials, such as butcher blocks, will always have them.  

If you are worried about seams in your butcher block counters, let me share a few helpful details.  

How do you join two pieces of butcher block

There are several methods of joining two pieces of butcher block together, and these include the following: 

Join the ends of butcher block pieces

One important thing to remember is that wood doesn’t like being glued end to end, and all the glue will be soaked up in the end grain without enough left to hold the boards. Joining butcher block pieces end to end won’t be necessary if you can find them in sizes that are large enough.  

You can create surfaces on the ends of the butcher block pieces that can be glued together using a finger joint router bit. But this might not be necessary if the countertop will go between two walls.  

If your countertop is between walls, I suggest screwing a piece of 1×3 into the bottom to align and hold the end-to-end pieces together, ensuring that the two pieces will stick together even if the glue doesn’t work. It will also be hidden from view within the cabinet. 

Although this trick won’t ensure that the seam will be completely invisible, it would still make it less noticeable.  

close up view of a new modern kitchen with solid wood butcher block oak counter with built in granite rectangular sink

Join butcher block pieces in the corner

If your countertop has an L from a peninsula, the butcher block pieces should be joined together in a corner. The two pieces should be joined at an angle in a corner, usually a 45-degree angle. You can align these two pieces with wood biscuits and secure them with plenty of glue, clamping them until the glue has dried.  

Join the edges of butcher block pieces

The easiest step for joining two pieces of butcher block together is joining them edge to edge. The edges, technically the butcher block countertop’s face grain, are straightforward to glue together.  

Since my countertop has somewhat round edges, I cut them off before joining the two pieces. But if this is impossible in your case, I recommend using wood filler to fill the tiny gap. This filler should match your specific wood species, and this filled line will be visible between all the lines on top of your butcher block.   

I combined the two pieces with a biscuit joiner and used plenty of wood glue. I clamped the two pieces together and waited for the adhesive to dry completely.  

What kind of wood filler should you use on butcher block countertops

I discovered that some wood filler options could fill the cracks on butcher block countertops.  

The first one is wood putty, a type of ready-to-use pre-mixed filler meant to fill cracks in the wood. Since it comes in various colors, I was able to choose one that perfectly matches the color of my butcher block countertop.  

Another option I also tried is the combination of sawdust and wood glue. Although this method is almost the same as using wood putty, this one is more eco-friendly and natural.  

These two options are both compelling to be used on butcher block counters. But of course, at the end of the day, it is all up to you which one you’d want to use.  

bamboo kitchen cabinets cost - Vintage metal cabinets were brightened by the addition of bamboo flooring, butcher block countertops and new door hardware.
“Kitchen” by designbuildinhabit is marked with CC BY-ND 2.0.

Do you finish both sides of the butcher block

One common discussion among woodworkers is that applying finish to both sides of the butcher block is essential to prevent warping. This practice sounds sensible. For one, moisture exchange is the culprit behind warping, and applying a finish can help slow down moisture exchange.  

Assuming that the wood was already kiln-dried adequately from the beginning, warping should be prevented if the moisture that enters or leaves from both sides of the wood due to fluctuating conditions and temperatures is equalized.  

However, this is not the case. Evidence shows an opposite scenario, showing that it doesn’t make any difference if you finish both sides of the butcher block. It will or won’t warp completely independent of how you finish it. The finish will slow down moisture, not stop it. The two sides of the butcher block will reasonably adjust fast regardless if they’re finished or not.  

But here’s the thing: it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t finish both sides of your butcher block, and this is even more so if the inside or underside will be touched or visible. Finished butcher block surfaces will always look much nicer than unfinished ones.  

How do you get a smooth finish on a butcher block

Several options are available to help you get a smooth finish on a butcher block. But before anything else, make sure that you prepare your counter for being finished. You can sand it down to remove existing finishes and achieve a smooth surface, and you also need to ensure it is completely dry and clean. 

Your first option is to use mineral oil. All you have to do for this is rub a generous amount over the wood surface. Cover the entire surface and rub it in with a clean cloth. Let the oil stand for several minutes before wiping off excess oil. Allow it to soak in and dry off thoroughly. You can apply another coat once dry. You can use mineral oil as often as possible until you achieve your desired finish.  

You can also try sealing the surface with lacquer, varnish, or polyurethane. I prefer this one because it creates a firmer coating. All you have to do is paint over the wood surface with a paintbrush, roller, or foam brush. Let the layer dry and repeat the process. You might achieve the best results after three or four coats.  

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