Woodworking Project 4 - Sapele Butcher Block / by Jared Groneman

Project four started out by taking a jaunt out to a place called Local Wood in Berryville, Virginia. Unlike Lowes or Woodcraft, Local Wood stocks large slabs with live edges along with dimensional lumber of all sorts. I picked up some medium sized pieces of quarter sawn white oak, but I loved the look of this long piece of sapele. It had great looking grain and the surfaces were already milled for gluing.

1 ½” x 2 ⅛” x 96” Sapele

Miter Saw, Belt Sander, Router

I jotted down a quick long grain butcher block design based loosely on parquet flooring pattern. I cut all the pieces to length and dry fitted them to make sure the pattern would work. I glued the pieces together in sections and then assembled the whole board.

I had recently picked up a wood plane and decided to flatten the piece out a bit before sanding. This was a mistake. Not only was the grain going two different directions, but I wasn't very patient with it. I really have to watch a few more YouTube videos before getting the plane back in my hands. After much sanding the board was looking good. Heavy but good. I rounded all the edges with a roundover bit and sanded through 400 grit sandpaper.

I decided to use mineral oil to finish this project. I used Howard’s Butcher Block Oil and 4 applications later I had a finished product. I was very surprised that none of the glue joints expanded or moved and the grain didn’t raise up during the finishing process. The wood stayed stable throughout the whole project. Another thing that impressed me about sapele was its shimmer. Once oil was applied you could really see that beautiful shimmer in the grain as your eyes move across the surface. I learned many things during project 4, but my favorite is the correct pronunciation of sapele.