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How to re-treat a cutting board ??

I purchased a nice "OLD" 2 1/4 inch thick butcher block cutting board and would like to sand the surface down and re-treat it, since it was such a great steal at $2.00. How would you suggest I go about doing so?

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  1. I would sand it down, and then rub in a coat or too of some cooking oil that is light on scent, or m aybe some linseed oil. (Just not sure if the embedded oil could go rancid or not.) Since I would be preparing food that I am going to eat on the board, I would NOT want to put anything that comes from a chemical or petroleum based wood finishes factory on it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ChinoWayne

      Cutting boards should always be rubbed down with mineral oil that is available at drug stores or cookware outlets.

    2. Sand it and then sand it again and make it like jfood's 8th grade wood shop called it "smooth as a baby's tush."

      The jfood would finish with "Boos Mystery Oil" from Boos, the company that makes very high end butcher blocks, etc. Here's the link and look all the way at the bottom for the oil.


      1 Reply
      1. re: jfood

        Great link jfood, thanks alot !!

        Looks like I got about a $100 board for $2.00 at a flea market, needs a little TLC but will last forever. Its basically one of those non-reversable types but is well crafted.

      2. Mineral oil won't go rancid or change the flavor of foods. It is cheap & works great.

        1 Reply
        1. re: meatn3

          I'm with you on the mineral oil. Use it all the time. Cheap and does the job. I have the Boos top on my island, and love it!

        2. Yes mineral oil is good.

          Once a day for a week, then once a week for a month, then once a month forever. At least that is how I remember the butcher block treatments from 30 years ago.

          Of course if I could see my butcher block counter tops I do it once every couple of months! However I never cut right on them, but over the years they have become the storage area except for one corner on the island.

          Time to unclutter!

          1. If you are going to sand, I'd recommend the blocking technique to maintain an even surface. Similar to what is done on car bodies to get a perfectly straight surface, attach your sand paper to a long block (the longer the better). Keep your pressure even and your strokes complete end to end. Otherwise you could sand in issues by creating uneven spots on the board.

            1. Get a couple of sheets each of 80, 110, and 220 grit sandpaper. Borrow a
              1/4-sheet electric sander if you don't already have one. Hit it real good with
              the 80 grit until you've sanded out all the old knife cuts and cleaned off whatever
              old finish and gunk is on it. Don't worry about sanding away too much. This should
              take 10-15 minutes at least and generate a lot of dust. Now change to 110 grit and
              sand out all the scratch marks the 80 grit left. Again, this will take a while. Repeat with
              the 220 grit. At this point, it should be pretty smooth and looking real nice. Take a wet
              towel and give the surface a light wipe. That will raise the last little fuzzies. Let it dry
              and give it a final quick sanding. Run your hands over it and say "ooooooh".

              Get some mineral oil from the drug store. It's often found in the laxative section;
              don't worry about that. It's exactly the same as, and about 1/4 the price of, "butcher
              block oil" from the hardware store. Slop on a whole bunch, let it soak in a couple
              of hours then wipe off the excess. Repeat the next day and the day after that. Then
              you're done.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                Chuckles is right, right, right!! I have 2 runs of 4-ft each of butcher block as counters in my kitchen, and I cut everything on them. They have lasted 15 years so far. My carpenter gave me the same process as Chuckles. The only modification for me is that when I do the 80, then I run a damp sponge over it to raise the nap, then go again with the 80... then to 100, and then the sponge, then 100 again... then 200, then the sponge, then 200 again. it will get smooth, and hard, as glass. then the multiple applications of mineral oil.

                in the future, a quick hit with wet steel wool or Brillo, rinsed clean, and more mineral oil will do for a touch up.

              2. I have a friend how turns his own bowls from trees in his woods. He actually rubs the bowls with walnut oil and man are they beautiful. He tells me the walnut oil won't go rancid either and is a little safer and better for the wood.

                1. How bad is this cutting board? Does it really need sanding or just a darned good cleaning? If you sand the surface down, it will look new and you'll lose all the patina. Now, that may be the look you want but then maybe not...
                  You could try giving it a good scrubbing with a solution of bleach and water, using moderately fine steel wool to get any crud off and to sanitize it. You may have to get it pretty wet to dislodge the years of ick so be patient. If there's any really yucky stuff, a putty knife should scrape that off. Get it as clean as you can before you take that sander to it. It may clean up very nicely, have a lovely patina and surprise you.
                  A final good sanitizing with a bleach solution and then some oiling and you could be perfectly happy with a beautiful old butcher block.

                  3 Replies
                    1. re: MakingSense

                      Another way of giving it a good cleaning that doesn't impact any flavor issues is to get some (about 1/2 cup per sq. ft. of surface) kosher salt and spread on the board. then cut a lemon in half and use the cut side to scrub the saalt into the top of the board. Let it sit for about 1/2 hour, then take a flat edged steel scraper( same as a dough knife) and run it back and forth across the board, like you would pushing fruit through a drum sieve. Scrape the salt/lemon juice off with the scraper firmly and rinse. and blot dry with a paper towel, then pour a thick coat of mineral oil and spread evenly. let it sit for 1/2 hour and wipe off. repeat the next day (the oil part) and your board will be fresh as new.

                      1. re: chazzerking

                        that's my standard method for daily/weekly cleanup. the salt (sea salt) is coarse enough to gently abrase the wood, the lemon, good-tasting acid that it is, completes the cleaning process. i just rub things down with moist paper towels after all this. stay away from water and you won't need much in the way of mineral oil.

                    2. I have a beautiful handicrafed cutting board. The instructions I received with it were to use a good quality canola or vegetable oil but not to use olive oil. I've been using canola oil with good success. If I get stains on it, I like to use a half lemon and kosher salt and give it a good scrub. I think this also good for getting out any pungent odours as well.