Making Custom Wood Countertops & Butcher Block Tops since 2001

Designing A Custom Wood Countertop

There are many options to pick from when it comes to wood countertops. Wood species, thickness, construction styles, edge profiles, finish, textures, knife slots or no knife slots! They can overwhelm at first glance. We’re going to simplify this process of selection by breaking it down into five steps. Let’s get started!

Step 1: Pick A Wood Species

All of our wood countertops are custom made to order pieces. We work with many woods including:

  • Walnut (black walnut)
  • Rustic walnut (more color & character)
  • White oak
  • Quarter sawn white oak
  • Rustic white oak (more color & character)
  • Cherry
  • Sapele
  • Reclaimed woods
  • Hickory
  • Rustic hickory (more color & character)
  • Ash
  • Poplar (stain grade)

Step 2: Pick A Construction Style

Because there are no boards in the world wide enough to make a wood countertop out of just one board we use several boards glued together to make up the width. There are two ways we do it, each with its own look. We consider “wood countertops” to be made up of wide plank boards. This is a construction style called plank style construction.

The second category is referred to as butcher block countertops. This surface is made up of boards turned up on their edge and laminated together to create the required width. Quite obviously we call this edge grain construction

Step 3: Choose A Thickness

For this it depends on the construction style.

Plank style tops for the most part max out at 1-5/8″ thick but there are a few species that can be found thicker. Walnut, hard maple and sapele can be sourced up to 2-1/4″ thick. For a thicker look we have to add a built up edge. This can make them look as thick as you wish. 

Edge grain tops can all be made up to 5-1/2″ thick. 

Step 4: Choose An Edge Profile

All countertops have visible edges and we offer several choices for you, the designer, to pick from. Square and simple, large and ornate or just something to add a little detail. 

Step 5: Choose A Finish

We offer two sealer options and one food grade oil finish. They are all a bit different in look and performance so take a good look at them before making a decision. If it help we love the Rubio Monocoat finish for all countertops. For tabletops, bar tops etc. it’s a toss up between the Monocoat and our varnish. 

That’s it for the main building blocks. There are more fun features to pick from so if you’re up to it head on over to our Design Options page and check them all out. You can also download our Design Guide PDF to help you along the way. 


How Big Can I Get A Wood Countertop Without A Joint?

We’ve made tops as big as 144″ by 144″. Huge tops as big as some smaller kitchens. A couple of things to consider are:

Will it fit through the door. Yes, we’ve had one or two that wouldn’t so we had to do the final assembly, sanding and finishing on top of the cabinets in the home.
Will it make the turns needed. We’ve done tops 16′ and over but you have to make sure there are no sharp corners that need to be navigated.

What Is The Lead Time?

As with anything of this nature they are longer than a standard product. Typically we run between 2-3 weeks for fully finished countertops, 1-2 weeks for DIY wood countertops countertops, and 3-5 days for our countertop slabs. This can change if the project is large or if the wood being used is not available currently.

Rush Orders

We can rush an order for a 10% rush fee. We’re not trying to take advantage of your situation but rush projects put a strain on us and usually require overtime for the fabricators.

How much do wood countertops cost?

In this time of constricted budgets we find that many homeowners and trade professionals alike want to know how much a wood countertop or butcher block costs when compared to stone or other material. The simple answer is, it can vary.

That’s a very frustrating answer to a straightforward question, we know. For example if you asked your mechanic how much to fix my car with no other information it would be difficult to estimate because there are so many variables to consider. The best way to find out is to call us at 866-583-4200 or go to our Get A Quote page and fill out the short form. We’re usually very quick to turn your quote around and then you’ll know exactly where you stand.

Ways to save money when ordering a wood countertop.

We offer three types of wood countertops and butcher blocks. To save some money the DIY and blank slab options are going to be the way to go.
Fully finished – Most expensive. This, like the name implies, is fully finished and ready to be installed.
Do It Yourself – Mid range. This is a fully cut out countertop with all holes and shapes cut but you’ll need to do some finish sanding and sealing work.
Blank Slabs – Least expensive. These are blank slabs that need to be cut to size, finish sanded, then sealed. Great for a cabinet shop or handy husband.

Do wood countertops & butcher block vary in color?

Wood, as you know, is a natural product. Unless requested we do not stain our countertops like most cabinet companies or furniture manufactures. This means that if you’re working from one of our samples the actual product you get can vary in color. Color consistency within a top is important to us and we sort lumber and hand select each board that goes into any given top.

How durable are wood countertops?

Many people ask us how durable are wood countertops are? To answer this completely we need to include scratch resistance, impact resistance, stain resistance and water resistance. When you think about it, a kitchen countertop has to deal with a lot in an average day. Having a sink in the top adds to the potential issues.

Lets break this down and deal with the elements of the question individually.

Scratch Resistance Of Wood Countertops

Scratch resistance of a wood countertop is determined by a couple of things. If the wood is sealed with a sealer like the Monocoat, it’s only as scratch resistant as the wood itself. Because Monocoat is an oil finish that is absorbed by the wood it doesn’t have a “shell” that protects against scratching. It can, however, easily be re-oiled occasionally to maintain its water barrier.

If a topical sealer like conversion varnish or polyurethane is used the scratch resistance goes up significantly. Still not as resistant as stone, but if you do get a scratch it’s easy to repair with products like Howard Restor A Finish.

Impact Resistance Of Wood Countertops

Impact resistance is much the same as scratch resistance, in that a top sealed with a penetrating oil will only be as hard as the wood. You can find ratings on woods’ hardness here. Topical sealers will greatly improve this rating by penetrating the woods fibers, hardening and thus reinforcing the wood.

Stain & Water Resistance Of Wood Countertops

Stain and water resistance go hand in hand and are both dependent on the sealer used. The glue used also plays a role in water resistance.Topical sealers will always perform the best for this. Older topical sealers would occasionally peel, allow water rings to appear or, in some cases, completely smother the woods natural texture. New technology has solved those problems. At J. Aaron we use a high quality polyurethane that soaks deep into the wood’s fibers and literally becomes part of the wood. There is nothing that can make them peel, they will never be affected by water or any other common household liquid and do not smother the natural texture of the wood. There are some solvents you need to be careful of. Acetone which is present in fingernail polish remover, is one of these. Penetrating oils like tung-oil and Monocoat are great sealers as well, but don’t have quite the protective qualities as a good topical sealer. The Monocoat is superior to tung-oil. At J. Aaron we’re completely confident in it to provide a very good seal even on countertops with undermount sinks.


Wood is not as hard as granite or quartz countertops. That’s part of its character. If you want your kitchen or bathroom countertop to look the same 5-10 years from now you do not want wood, or marble or stainless steel for that matter. Wood is unique in that blemishes form a patina. Like a leather chair, wood countertops gain character as they grow older. Time and use adds rather than subtracts from their overall appearance. Enjoy the process and don’t worry about small nicks and scratches.

Can I have an undermount sink?

Yes. Our countertops are sealed to protect them against water damage. Check out our blog post on the subject here.

Should a wood countertop be next to a range?

Yes, it’s perfectly fine for a wood countertop to be next to a range. Just follow the installation instructions for your range and everything will be perfectly fine. Read our blog post about it here.

Do wood countertops or butcher block tops harbor bacteria?

No. There is no good evidence that wood harbors more bacteria than plastic. There is evidence that many woods actually kill bacteria. Have you visited a real butcher shop of late? Do you see the butcher cutting the choice pieces of meat on granite or stone? No, the butcher uses what his profession has used for centuries – wood – butcher block. And his health inspection certificate behind his counter verifies the ease of clean up and disinfecting.

Do wood countertops warp?

They can warp at times due to changes in the humidity levels. This is not a problem if you follow recommended installation directions.

Do wood countertops crack?

They can developed small cracks or checks. These are not considered defects as solid wood will do this naturally. They rarely become structural problems and if desired can easily be repaired by the home owner.

Do butcher block counters ever move or change shape?

Yes. During different times of the year they will move or change dimension. This is a natural fact of solid wood. Remember that we are not talking about plywood, which makes up virtually all wood furniture. Plywood has a much reduced reactivity to climate change.

Can I cut on the surface of my wood or butcher block counter?

You may if your surface is sealed with mineral oil. Chopping and cutting food directly on a wood counter with other sealers isn’t recommended.

Can I set a hot pan on my counter surface?

No. We recommend using a trivet instead. You can damage the finish and/or the wood if the pan is too hot.

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Contact us today about your project. We’ll walk you through the process and make sure you get exactly what you’re hoping for.

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