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May 6, 2008 11:36 AM

Butcher Block Restoration

I recently acquired a 60 year old solid Michigan Maple Butcher block.
It weighs 300+lbs.

I am currently restoring it by sanding off the layers of accumulated dirt and cleaning it up as much as possible without loosing too much of its charm.

I was instructed to use a mineral oil on the top to condition and give the cutting surface a nice shine. I was also told I can use the same oil on the sides and the legs which will act like a lacquer.

I was curious if the mineral oil will do the trick for the sides and legs and if it will be greasy to the touch after... (say if someone rubs up against the block) I found it impossible to find food grade lacquers (which was my original plan for the sides and legs of the block)...

Any suggestions/ tips regarding the restoration would be appreciated...

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  1. Franco,

    Yes on the mineral oil for the top and sides (as I assume you will be using this for food). But no, it's not going to give the block a "shine." More of a matte lustre, perhaps. Wipe on the oil and let sit, reapplying until the wood has absorbed what it can, then wipe down. You should not have to worry about a greasiness.

    For the legs? Still not going to get a shine with mineral oil, unless you DON'T wipe it down - and then it IS greasy! But since you're not actually prepping food on the leg surfaces, why not use another finish for shine, if that's what you're after, aesthetically?

    I am a little envious of your find!


    1. I use a mineral oil that contains a bit of beeswax on an old wooden table that I use for everything in an old farmhouse. The top wears like a dream even though we eat crabs on it and it's my main work surface for chopping. The beeswax gives it a slight sheen and I use it on the apron and legs of the table. It dries well and isn't sticky. I've started using the same stuff on a lot of antique furniture too.
      The stuff is available from butcher block companies. More expensive than drug store mineral oil but a little lasts a long, long time.

      1 Reply
      1. re: MakingSense

        Good kitchenware stores carry the mineral oil+ bee's wax combo too.

      2. Wow, I'm jealous. Instead of all that hard work sanding and cleaning why not just
        go buy some newfangled bamboo cutting board and pack up and send that nasty
        old butcher block to me. ;)

        But if you insist on keeping it ... This subject seems to pop up with clockwork
        regularity here. This thread from a few months ago covers most of the issues.
        MakingSense and I even go at it for a bit there. While we have some disagreements,
        one place where we definitely agree is mineral oil + beeswax. There's a suggestion
        toward the end of that thread about melting some beeswax into mineral oil which works
        great. Mineral oil on its own stays oily, but adding the wax gives it a little staying
        power. And a very nice smell.

        For the legs, it shouldn't matter at all what you use. Old ones I've seen always
        seem to be painted white.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Chuckles the Clone

          Hey All that replied.
          I thank you for the advice. I ended up using Mineral Oil only. I will give it a few more coats and later seal the legs and the apron with a bees wax.
          Here are some pics of the finished Butcher Block!