I had so far gathered that for a block to be called a "butcher block," the grain must be perpendicular to the surface.

I guessed that this orientation of the grain is meant for beauty. A table made with the grain in this direction would be weak in both direction.

butcher block

Can you correct the terminology and/or my understanding?

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    Facing the end grain like that allows knife edges to pass between the wood fibers, rather than scoring them. For actual butchering it prevents chopping the fibers with a cleaver, in cutting boards it's prized for reducing drag. Most meat is prepped on easier to clean synthetic surfaces now, so you'll mainly find it used for vegetables. For decorative uses like counter and bar tops the other orientation is arguably better, because the edge grain is less absorbent and thus harder to stain. – Matthew Gauthier Apr 3 at 11:56
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    ...yet it turns out that wood is much less hospitable to bacteria than "easier to clean" plastic, actually. nytimes.com/1993/02/10/health/… – Ecnerwal Apr 3 at 12:30

"I had so far gathered that for a block to be called a "butcher block," the grain must be perpendicular to the surface".

It refers to both end grain and edge grain.

The ones for butchering or chopping typically are end grain and are more forgiving or self-healing, they will not show blade marks as readily or be as damaged by the knife/cleaver blade.

Butcher Block Wikipedia

"Butcher blocks have been used in butcher shops for centuries, and still are in many European countries. Increasingly, though, butcher block is being used in domestic kitchens as an alternative to stone and laminate countertops. This has created a new industry in the kitchen design arena and many furniture manufacturers and hardwood flooring companies are getting into the production of butcher blocks and butcher block countertops, in part because the countertops can be constructed from left-over wood that would otherwise be discarded."

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  • tagging to had that my understanding is that a butcher block is generally just a table sized, more durable (longer lasting) and stable (won't move or slide) version of a cutting board. Or alternately, a cutting board is just a portable and store-able version of a butcher block. – Ack Apr 2 at 22:38

Beauty has nothing to do with it.

It's all about function.

That example is very thin for a real Butcher Block (so it's not, IMHO), which often approximate a cube, and are intended to take some serious use in the process of meatcutting. They may be 12-18 inches thick. They are massive.

enter image description here That thin slab could be made somewhat functional by putting it on a plywood substrate.

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    Yes, real butcher blocks for use by real butchers get serious wear. But our hard maple butcher block inset into our kitchen worktop is over twenty years old, is used to prepare at least one meal every day, and shows no wear at all. – emrys57 Apr 3 at 8:08
  • @emrys57 but a butcher would prepare enough meat per day for 100’s of meals, each day for 20 years ... a use factor much higher than yours. – Solar Mike Apr 3 at 8:49
  • @SolarMike Totally true, but that is really the difference between "professional grade" and "home use", which is also going to be true of the respective knives. You also come across Butcher Block "style" worktops, which have relatively short lengths of timber, laid longitudinally. – Mike Brockington Apr 3 at 10:03

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