Hard Maple has the highest density and is a closed-grain hardwood which makes it the overall surface of choice more affordable than its closed-grain counterparts, cherry and walnut, which also make great countertops. Oak – an open-grain wood, oak isn’t ideal for direct food preparation. When lacquered or varnished, the material is just fine for general purposes.
Edge grain (in which the boards are laid parallel with their “edges” showing), end grain (in which small square pieces are lined up vertically with the “ends” showing), and blended (in which different lengths are joined with no particular pattern).
Homeowners think about the way they see themselves using their butcher-block countertops. For food prep areas, you’ll want to apply (and periodically reapply) an oil finish. But if it’s just a general or dining surface, choose a lacquer finish, since an oil finish could come off on clothing or paper.