Someone I know recently commisioned a cutting board from me - as described in my earlier instructable how to make an end grain cutting board. But instead of making a normal size cutting board, they wanted a full-on butcher block, and I decided that instead of just being a solid block, it needed some feet. I'm going to show you how I made a set of individually adjustable feet for this butcher block.
The feet aren't just aesthetic, in this case they were necessary. Unfortunately I chose to make this butcher block during a period of rapid weather change in San Francisco. In just one week the weather changed from cold, dry and wintery weather to warm, somewhat humid, spring weather - with several days of heavy rain thrown in for good measure.
I can only assume all these atmospheric hijinks wreaked havoc with this project. I started out with what seemed like very straight lumber, but after it was cut and glued, to my dismay the entire butcher block curled up like a potato chip (okay, slight exaggeration - but that's how it felt). The opposite corners on both sides of the board were twisted between 1/16" - 1/8" high, making the board rock from side to side.
With some serious hand-planing and sanding, I was able to get the board mostly flat, but I was worried it might not stay that way forever - especially since the customer will be taking it home to a very different climate. By adding some adjustable feet, I hope to future-proof this butcher block, allowing each foot to be adjusted to compensate for any future (hopefully small) warping.
Step 1: Why make feet for a butcher block?Many people prefer to leave cutting boards reversible, allowing them to use both sides. But there are several good reasons to add feet in certain situations.
There are purpose-built leveling feet available, used for furniture, appliances and other househole objects. However I couldn't find any such hardware at my local hardware store, so I just browsed the aisles and looked for parts I could hack together. For anyone else making similar feet, there are good parts available online - look for leveling feet or anti-skid furniture legs. And while I decided to keep my legs simple, I'm sure there are lots of interesting designs out there.
Step 2: Materials and tools
Step 3: Make the adjustable feet
I started by assembling the adjustable feet.
First, I chose the height for my feet. I wanted the rubber part to be mostly covered by wood, with just a little bit peeking out, allowing the feet to be twisted for adjustment. I also needed the bolt from the furniture glides to stick out far enough to get a good grip in the wood. In the end, I made the feet 1 1/4" high with ~1/4" of the rubber sticking out.
To make this work, I put the furniture glides about halfway down inside the rubber feet. But I couldn't stop here, because when pressure was applied to the glides, they slipped even further down inside of the feet - I had to fill the space beneath with something So, before inserting the furniture glides, I squirted in some epoxy into each of the rubber feet. The epoxy fills the space beneath the furniture glides, ensuring they don't slip down further, and once dried locks the glides firmly in place.
Make sure that the glides are totally straight before the epoxy dries - if they are sticking into the rubber foot at an angle, it will be difficult or impossible to screw them into the butcher block later.
After ~30 minutes, the feet were all rock solid, so I moved onto the next phase - making legs to hide the rubber feet.
Step 4: Make & mount legs
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I experimented with several different woods from my scrap bin to make the legs. But I ended up using an off-cut piece of walnut from the same lumber used to make the butcher block. This was perfect for me, because the color and grain matched nicely.
To attach the legs I needed more than just glue, because gluing end-grain to end-grain can be problematic. End grain may look like a solid surface, but it's not. Think of the wood fibers (third picture), on the microscopic level, as a stack of drinking straws standing vertically - think of how hard it would be to glue the tips of the straws together - very little glue would hold them, and most of the glue would get sucked up inside the straws. This is exactly what happens with end grain - leading to much weaker joints than gluing face grain or edge grain.
To overcome this, I mounted the legs with wooden dowels plus wood glue, greatly increasing the strength of the joints.
Make the legs
Mounting the legs
Step 5: Install feet & adjust height
Once all the legs are installed, slowly thread the bolt on the feet into the hole inside the legs. The 7/32" hole is just smaller than the bolts used for the feet - which allows the bolts to cut into the wood and make their own threads. Start by screwing all four feet as far as you can into the legs, then set the board down on a flat surface to test them out. If any of the corners are high, you can adjust the feet by twisting them in or out. Adjust the legs until the block is level.
After making the feet, finish them using the same method as the rest of the butcher block. In my case, I had sanded the butcher block to 220 grit sandpaper, and planned to use plain mineral oil for finish. I followed this treatment with both the legs and body
After making the legs, finish them off using whatever method was used to finish the rest of the butcher block. In my case, I hand sanded the butcher block and legs up to 220 grit sandpaper and oiled the entire block with mineral oil.