Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Restoring an Old Maple Butcher Block

We had the fortune of inheriting an old butcher block that previously belonged to my grandparents. This 200 pound plus monstrosity had become a fixture in the garage for the past five years and we finally decided to clean it up so we could use it in the kitchen. While the block is structurally in great shape, it was in dire need of some intense clean up and restoration. The makeover process all started with a bucket of hot sudsy water with a tad of bleach. We gave the block a good wipe down from top to bottom. The block had numerous stains, blemishes and cobwebs stuck to it so this bucket cleaning was first in order. We even cleaned the wheels on the bottom of the legs.

The next process was to allow the block to dry in the sun for a few hours before we prepared the finish sander. We used the orbital sanders and began the process with an 80 grit sheet which is pretty abrasive but capable of removing years of debris, old oils, and nicks. After we sanded down the surface to our satisfaction, we finished sanding the surface with a finer grit (240) grit paper for smooth block. Since the sides were relatively smooth, we simply hit them with a light sanding of a very fine (400 grit) paper. The block was wiped down with a rag soaked in hot water and allowed to dry again.

The next stage involved applying food grade mineral oil to the surface as several applications were required as this newly sanded block soaked up the oil quickly. Once the porous block no longer took any more oil; the excess oil was wiped clean with a dry towel. It is at this stage I would recommend (though I didn’t do it), applying a coating of beeswax that will serve as surface protector to the butcher block. Some mineral oils are sold with beeswax included, though I could not find it at the store I was shopping at. Beeswax serves the purpose of acting as a natural surface protector to the butcher block as well as giving the fixture a more finished appearance.

Our final step involved giving the block a little charm by painting the four legs to match the kitchen d├ęcor. The block required two of us to lift and roll into the kitchen. It is now a happy addition to our kitchen and will prove useful when it comes to food preparation and much needed counter space as the holiday season approaches

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