Kitchen island fit for a butcher

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Q: We plan to create a large butcher-block top (4 feet by 6 feet) on an island in the middle of our remodeled kitchen. In the interface between a sink and the wood, what barriers need to be in place to keep the wood from staining or showing water damage? We intend to use the surface for cutting, chopping and preparing food for serving and cooking. Also, would an aluminum sink be better, or should we use tile and an undermounted sink of any material – cast iron, stainless steel, etc.? – Tom (Petaluma, Calif.) A: Although undeniably beautiful, wood is our least favorite choice for kitchen countertops. No matter how carefully maintained, it will stain. It will show knife marks. Hot pots or pans will burn it. And, because of bacteria, cooks must be especially diligent about cleanup after preparing certain foods, especially poultry. We're a little unclear here. Is the entire island surface to be a butcher block or just part of it? Are you thinking about cutting a s...