So you have just purchased a brand new, beautiful cutting board and/or butcher block. If you are like me, you would like to keep things as new and beautiful as possible especially things you have paid a considerable amount of money for. There are many preventive measure you can take to ensure that your block is kept in good condition.
When it comes to cutting boards and butcher blocks there are absolute facts you have to accept;
1) Your block will get scratches and cut marks… it’s a cutting board.
2) Stains might become a part of you cutting boards look as time goes on
Although these facts are apart of your new blocks life, they can be changed. One of the ways too keep it looks looking new is by refinishing it. and it’s a lot easier than it sounds. The first thing you want to do is get your hands on some good ol’ sandpaper. You are going to need 80 grit, 180 grit, and, if you feel up too it, 240 grit. Using the sandpaper in that order too. The 80grit is a more corse texture to take care of the heavy work and deeper scratches. The next two grits are much lighter and will eliminate finer scratches and also provide a smooth finish. Start by taking the 80grit and start to sand the area that needs to be refinished.
Using the sandpaper go with the grain of the wood, if you happen to have a top grain cutting board use a circular patter for sanding. If you have deeper goudges or scratches don’t directly sand on the one effected spot. Try and sand all around the scratch to avoid leaving hills and valleys in the surface of your cutting board or butcher block. . Grind away until all those scratches that you find unsightly fade away.
Next move to the 180 grit. This finer grit will remove smaller scratches and sanding marks left by the 80 grit. 180 grit is a nice smooth surface and many people like that texture and feel of this grit.
At this point you will also want to use a vacuum or brush to remove the dust that has been accumulating over the process of sanding. Once you have cleaned up the dust. Feel what you have sanded, if you like the texture that has been created from 180 grit you can skip to the last part of the article. If you would like a smoother finish then using the 240 is the next step in this process of maintenance.
The next step is to reapply the oil to the bloc. The type of oil that you want to use is mineral oil. Mineral oil is odorless and colorless. Its also non-vegetable based so there is not chance of it going bad. Wipe mineral oil on the surface of your cutting board and let it soak in. Do not pour the oil directly onto the cutting board, the wood will soak in the oil very quickly this way and it will leave spot where the wood absorbed more oil than the rest. When the wood won’t take any more oil, wipe off the excess with a clean dry cloth. Don’t worry about applying too much oil. Apply oil with a soft cloth, in the direction of the grain, allowing the oil to soak in between each of the four or five coats required for the initial seasoning. After each treatment, wait about four to six hours and wipe off oil that did not soak into the wood (oxidation or hardening of the oil will take approximately 6 hours). Re-oil the butcher block monthly or as often as needed.
Beeswax Top Coat – A beeswax top coat is an optional addition to the re-finishing process, but is well worth the time. The beeswax sits on the surface of the wood in contrast to the oil that soaks into the wood. As a result the beeswax fills in pores and gaps that thin oil can’t bridge. This will help to keep out moisture, bacteria, and other contaminants from getting into the wood surface. Apply the finish, simply wipe it on with a clean cloth. The beeswax is a soft paste that has a similar consistency to that of a shoe polish. Excess finish can be easily buffed off with the cloth. Once the finish has had some time to dry it can be buffed to an amazing shine.