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Dec 30, 2013 09:37 AM

Butcher block purchase -- Need some reassurance

I was about ready to pull the trigger on this MMB butcher block, size 30" x 36" x 16"D:

My husband commented that it would look silly in our house because the butcher block cannot be placed right next to the kitchen sink or the cooktop. He also thinks that since it won't be in a convenient location, I probably won't use it often to justify the purchase.

I am thinking that since we will do a kitchen remodel in 5 years or so, we can temporarily place the butcher block near our dining table, and use it as a serving table and also as an (occasional) work surface for making noodles, dumplings, etc.

What do you think? I attached the layout of our kitchen/ dining area. I plan to put the butcher block in the nook (in the top left corner of the layout), near our 42" round dining table.

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  1. I have a Boos butcher my old house I had it in my nook like you are planning to do. I iddn't have great counter layouts in my kitchen and it worked really well in that space. I used it as a prep space. I used my stand mixer there when I needed it. Rolled dough. extra prep space when I had people helping me in the kitchen. It was a spot to set up drinks and apps when we were entertaining. I really liked being able to do that.

    My new house is a great room concept and I no longer have that nook space(only one dining space now, no formal dining). I actually don't like the whole great room thing and won't do it again...but anyhow I don't have anywhere in my kitchen now for the Boos table so it's living at my sister's for as long as I'm in this house. She uses it the same way I the nook and with the same purposes.

    Anyway, long story short...I think it will work fine!

    2 Replies
    1. re: ziggylu

      It's great to hear some positive story!

      May I ask how you access water when you need to? Did you just keep a bowl of water next to the block or something?

      1. re: CookieCookies

        In my old kitchen there was only a few feet between where the butcher block table was and the sink so it wasn't really a factor. I bought my table specifically because I was short on good prep space in my kitchen and didn't need a table in my kitchen nook as we always ate in the dining rom. Mine is a 5" thick block on wheels with a metal shelf under it so a bit different han what you are planning" Cucina D`Amico&nsf=False&nsfc=False&csa=False

        I can't use it in my current house. I don't want to sell it as when we downsize in the future I know I'll want to use it again so that's why it's on loan to my sister right now. If you have plenty of counter space already it may not be worth the expense to purchase something like this. It was an aesthetically pleasing solution to a space issue I had. I would definitely think about getting one with wheels was convenient to be able to easily unlock the brakes to move it and clean up any mess or mop the floors.

    2. Have you planned your new kitchen?
      Do you know if you'll even need this?

      2 Replies
      1. re: monavano

        This is a way scary purchase. So here are a few things to ask yourself.

        Can I check one out before I buy?

        Who is going to move that weighty thing during renovation?

        Will the maple clash with my present cabinets? Future cabinets?

        Will it fit in with the new layout?

        Will it be a piece of art, or a work place for breaking down poultry, beef, and other pieces of flesh?

        I tried to make one way back when from reused hard maple from a renovating bowling alley. Would gladly have bought one then. However, my ultimate kitchen upon remodel would not have had a space for it. I put in a thick marble counter section for pastry and bread.

        1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

          Lots of food for thought. Thank you.

          I have answers to some of the questions -- We will hire a local furniture mover to move it during remodel. The maple should be fine as the cabinets will stay white-ish. The wall between the nook and the kitchen can possibly be removed so the butcher block will no longer be disconnected from the kitchen after the remodel. I cannot find this particular block in local stores but did see some 4" John Boos ones and husband says he prefers the look of the MMB ones.

      2. Boos have great cutting boards for $80-$150. I would just buy a regular table and put that on it and save $900.

        3 Replies
        1. re: acssss

          My husband also said I should just get a huge cutting board instead.

          1. re: CookieCookies

            You have a smart husband.
            You can buy two or three boards and either:
            stack them one on top of the other - giving you a thick layer of wood if you like that style; lay them side by side (giving you a huge working space - like a table) or move them around the kitchen - giving you cutting space all over the kitchen.

            1. re: acssss

              Thank you for the ideas! I never thought of stacking boards.

        2. I think a butcher block can be a beautiful addition to your home. It can be very useful if you plan it right. However, it also can be a waste of space, if it is not planned correctly. For most home cooks, a large end grain cutting board is just as good as a butcher block -- practically speaking.

          I am looking at your kitchen layout. Is that a wall between the "nook" and the rest of your kitchen? Can I ask you what do you plan to use your butcher block for? Are you planning to use it to really butcher or are you planning to use it as a nice large cutting board. If you want to use it as a nice large cutting board, then you definitely want put it in the kitchen. You won't get much use if you put it so far away -- even for making noodle or dumplings.

          By the way, why can't you put it next to kitchen sink or cooktop? Are you worrying about the water from the sink and the heat from the cooktop? Put some mineral oil and beeswax if you are so worry about the water. Butchers use them to cut meat with blood and juice....etc. I think a little water from the sink won't kill your block.

          Of course, it really depends what you want your butcher block to do. If you want to simply use it, then I really would not worry about the water from the sink. It is a different matter if you want to keep it looking new and nice.

          <I am thinking that since we will do a kitchen remodel in 5 years or so,>

          Yeah, but if that is the argument, then why not buy it 5-years from now. Meanwhile, you can get a nice cutting board.

          One more thing. Have you considered butcher blocks on cart/on wheel?

          3 Replies
          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            Yes, that's a full-height structural wall between the "nook" and the rest of the kitchen. We haven't planned the new layout, but I think it's possible to remove that wall during the future remodel.

            I plan to use the butcher block for everything but meat prep. I don't cook meat often; when I do, I cut raw meat on a regular-sized wood cutting board and wash the board thoroughly afterwards. So the butcher block will basically be used as a large cutting board, but at a work height of 34", rather than 37" (it would be 37" if I were to use a 2" thick end-grain cutting board on my 35" countertop).

            The current kitchen layout doesn't have enough room for a butcher block near the sink or the cooktop. While the kitchen is somewhat large (17' x 22'), it has quite a bit of wasted space -- unfortunately, the wasted space is no where near the work triangle. I am certain the layout can be greatly improved during the remodel, and I hope the butcher block can be nicely incorporated into the new layout.

            I did consider replacing the island table (30"D x 48"L x 28"H) with the 30" x 36" x 34"H butcher block, but my husband is not quite ready to get rid of a nice-looking marble table (or change the kitchen at all), as we just moved into this house.

            I considered adding wheels to the MMB butcher block, and was told by MMB that they don't recommend doing it because the block is too heavy. I know John Boos has a few on wheels, but my husband and I am not terribly in love with those.

            1. re: CookieCookies

              I see. The butcher block you are looking at is a full blown butcher block. This is really great for heavy duty chopping, like chopping bones...etc. This isn't required for vegetable preparation. Of course, you may like the 16" because of its look.

              <The current kitchen layout doesn't have enough room for a butcher block near the sink or the cooktop.>

              I see. This makes perfect sense. Is it possible sticking it in that corners between the Cookb(ook) and 28" H Island Table? Either the upper left corner (outer corner) or the lower right corner (inner corner). At last this will bring it much closer to your cooking area.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                I indeed really like the look of the 16". :)

                I am going to re-measure the lower right corner tonight. It might fit there, but it will probably also block the traffic to the sunroom, which is to the right side of the cooktop.

                I attached a full kitchen layout below. I also have it attached in my response to janniecooks, with an alternative butcher block placement, between the island and the desk.

          2. Two key points to consider: 1) the first word that jumped out at me from the product description is "massive" - these things are heavy, though there is no weight mentioned on the product specifications. I have a boos block, and I don't wish to move it once in place. 2) If your butcher block is not in the kitchen where you do food prep, you will not likely use it. I note there is a wall between your kitchen and the nook where you propose placing the block. Even if it is a half wall, you have to walk out of your kitchen, and around the wall to get to the block. How many times do you think you will take your ingredients and knife from the kitchen to the block (not to mention what will you use to transport), do the prep work, then gather the now chopped ingredients from the block and carry them back into the kitchen? Placing it In the nook is just not convenient. Could it be incorporated into or near to the island?

            14 Replies
            1. re: janniecooks

              There is some "wasted" space between the island and the desk area in the kitchen (please see the attached full layout of my kitchen).

              I assume that wasted space is for pass-through traffic, but it feels unnecessarily large. I think the butcher block could potentially go between the island table and the desk without blocking traffic too much.

              Do you think this placement will be much better than in the nook? Thank you!

              1. re: CookieCookies

                The "wasted" space looks like a traffic flow space, the way people will move from the kitchen entry, or the den, or the sun room, through the kitchen and into the dining room. It seems like the block would be in the way placed in the middle of that space. Could you not back it up against the island table, at the end? That is, push the block up against the table. Not ideal, but preferable to placing it where it definitely will be an obstacle to flow. Could you make a paper template the actual size of the block and experiment with placement that way?

                I love my boos block, and having strongly urged my spouse to get it for me, I understand the impetus to make the block work in the kitchen. But three houses later, the block has now become an albatross that I wish we didn't have. I rarely (that means never) use it for its intended purpose, it's not where I do I my prep work, and it doesn't fit where it needs to be so it's convenient to use. So it has become my new stand-up desk!

                1. re: janniecooks

                  Yes, I can butt the block against the island table (please see the attached).

                  I know my husband won't be fond of this placement, because he thinks the marble table looks much prettier than the butcher block!

                  Regardless, I am going to try putting my mockup block there tonight. :)

                  1. re: CookieCookies

                    I took a closer look. I agree with janniecooks. I think it is better to put the chopping block right next to the island table. I have attached three potential positions that "I" would like, mostly because they are all close to the cooktop area.

                    I don't know which side you cook, but if you cook between sink and the cooktop area, then I much prefer position 3. Wash the food in the sink, then prep it in position 3, and then cook on the cooktop.

                    Just to be absolutely clear. These are 3 potential positions for one butcher block. I am not suggesting you to buy 3 butcher blocks. :D

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      I agree with the suggestion on placement 1, it's the only one that leaves adequate space for passage. With placement 2 there is only one foot or one and a half feet of space between the island and the corner of the wall around the den, and placement two leaves only about two feet from the corners of the block to the nearby walls. Assuming the diagram is drawn to scale, and it appears that it is. For good flow really 42" to 48" is preferred; leaving only 24" to 30" is cutting it close. But then it is a somewhat moveable object.

                      1. re: janniecooks

                        I cook between the sink and the cooktop. I re-measured everything last night, and had to move some walls closer to the island in my layout (please see the updated layout below). So placement 2 is probably out because there won't be enough space left to walk around.

                        Placement 1 will provide sufficient clearance for passage, while placement 3 will be more functional and probably aesthetically more pleasing too, as the butcher block has almost the same height as the cooktop island.

                        For placement 3, it will be a tight squeeze to get into the sunroom from the kitchen. The narrowest point is about 19". I will also need to shorten the island overhang (see the attached picture) by 8" for the butcher block to fit nicely, but I assume that shouldn't be difficult to do.

                        1. re: CookieCookies

                          I agree Janniecooks and you.

                          Position 1 will give you the best walk passage, but it may be too far to be practical. To test, you can put your current cutting board on the Island Table (see attached figure), and try to cook for a week. Force yourself to walk back and forth just to see if this will work. It may be too much.

                          Position 3 keeps everything close, but may be very tight for walking clearance. Beside the suggestion you mentioned above, there is always a choice of sacrificing one of the walk paths. In other words, just "close" down one of the pathways (see the other attached figure)

                          1. re: CookieCookies

                            I think you will rue the day you narrow those passage spaces to 19 inches and 24 inches. What kind of fridge are you putting in? Even my small french door fridge swings open 18", and the freezer opens out 22" when fully opened, which would leave little space between the open door(s) and the edge of the block.

                            1. re: janniecooks

                              The fridge we got is 35.5" wide, with french doors and a bottom freezer. Here is a link to it:


                              I like Chemicalkinetics' idea about sacrificing one of the pathways. I thought about that before, but was not brave enough to mention it to anyone. There would be more room for the fridge to open, plus having one wide path is probably better than two narrow paths.

                              1. re: CookieCookies

                                I know the title of your post is "looking for reassurances" but I can't help but offer one last contrary point: when you open the freezer, where do you stand? Freezers are designed to be opened from the front, not the side. I want to be able to stand in front of my freezer to pull it open and when it is opened, not be forced to stand to the side, which is what will happen if the block is placed next to the cooktop. Fully opened freezer = 22", plus space for human to stand in front of it and rummage around = 18" to 20" (at a minimum) for a total space requirement of about 40", which far exceeds the space that would be allowed with the block at the end of the cook top island (30").

                                1. re: janniecooks

                                  I agree there wouldn't be enough room left to comfortably open and close the fridge and freezer, unless the butcher block is pushed towards the wall of the den (and thus blocks the path), which my husband is not crazy about.

                                  I guess I have two choices: put the butcher block in position 1 (next to the island table), or put a 6" thick cutting board (or stack three 2" thick boards) on the 28"H island table. Neither sounds like a great option though. I will think about this a little more, and will probably hold off the butcher block purchase.

                2. re: janniecooks

                  Jannie is right about the weight. We inherited one of these; my great grandfather had a grocery with a meat market. There's no room in our kitchen for it and it took 3 grown, groaning men to get it to our basement. Be certain your floor can support it. Someday I hope to incorporate it into my kitchen.

                  1. re: Cam14

                    Yeah, for the size I want to get, it weighs about 500 pounds. I got this number from John Boos' website -- they have a similar butcher block in similar size.

                    The 2-car garage that's right under the kitchen has two metal columns as center support. My husband says the butcher block weighs much less than his fish tank that used to be in the kitchen. So I guess it will be fine.