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HELP: Attaching stainless steel legs to a wooden baker's benchtop & food-safe finish

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Forum topic by MedBaker posted 10-01-2015 04:31 PM 5769 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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MedBaker

4 posts in 432 days


10-01-2015 04:31 PM

Topic tags/keywords: bench steel legs install wooden bench finish food safe

Hi,
Hopefully, I am in the right place :)... I am having a baker’s bench built for myself here in Cyprus. Very simple… a 4-inch thick beech wooden top (80 cm by 200 cm) to be prepared by a carpenter, and a stainless steel leg frame to be prepared by an industrial kitchen shop. Since it is not common at all here to have kitchen work benches with wooden tops and nobody sells this kind of stuff, I am having to have the pieces built separately and put them together. I have two questions:

1- What is the best way to attach the steel frame that will be built (see photo) to the wooden bench top? I was thinking of simply having some holes made in the frame maybe 4 or 6 of them, and screw the frame into the bench directly. Would that be OK for the integrity of the wood? Would it be sturdy/stable enough? Would you be able to refer me to some details that I can show to the guys that will be building the steel frame?

2- The carpenter I am working with is not aware of any food-safe finishes. I mentioned some that is typically used in the US, but he didn’t know. He mentioned teak oil, but I don’t think that’s food safe. So, I am asking him to have no finish on it, and was planning on applying something natural myself. Any suggestions? Beeswax? My wife is in the US right now and will be coming back in a week or so. I was thinking maybe I could ask her to grab a food-safe finish for me and bring it out here (as long as it is of course plane-friendly…).

Thank you much in advance for your time,
Hazim


11 replies so far

View daddywoofdawg's profile

daddywoofdawg

1010 posts in 1038 days


#1 posted 10-01-2015 04:47 PM

mineral oil,BLO,are two off the top of my head,anything that would go on a butcher block cutting board will work.
If there is a lip all the way around to hold the top, think L frame then the weight should hold it in without fasteners.

View mahdee's profile

mahdee

3551 posts in 1230 days


#2 posted 10-01-2015 07:13 PM

I agree with daddywoofdawg. Just drop it in there. It will make it easy to get out and clean when necessary. I would use mineral oil on both sides. Put as much as it takes so it won’t soak it in any more. Then get some beeswax or food grade wax, heat it up to melt and mix 1/2 as much mineral oil to it for periodic use as needed. If you don’t mind eating some dried polyurethane or other chemicals here and there, have her buy some salad bowl finish from Home Depot.

-- earthartandfoods.com

View Richard's profile

Richard

1898 posts in 2153 days


#3 posted 10-01-2015 07:27 PM



I agree with daddywoofdawg. Just drop it in there. It will make it easy to get out and clean when necessary. I would use mineral oil on both sides. Put as much as it takes so it won t soak it in any more. Then get some beeswax or food grade wax, heat it up to melt and mix 1/2 as much mineral oil to it for periodic use as needed. If you don t mind eating some dried polyurethane or other chemicals here and there, have her buy some salad bowl finish from Home Depot.

- mrjinx007


+1 for just making the top the right size to just drop into the metal frame and the weight of the top will hold it in place with no screws needed. And mineral oil for the finish , it is cheap and you should be able to find it where you are , just don’t use Vegetable oil as it can and will go rancid .

View jerryminer's profile

jerryminer

528 posts in 904 days


#4 posted 10-02-2015 06:23 AM

I wouldn’t drop that top into a fixed steel frame. I would want to allow for some seasonal wood movement. (It would be OK, I guess, if the frame is sized for the maximum size/highest moisture content the top will ever achieve).

I would feel safer with the top angles running under the wood top, with some slotted holes to allow movement (and attach with some screws driven up from underneath):

View MedBaker's profile

MedBaker

4 posts in 432 days


#5 posted 10-02-2015 08:39 AM


I wouldn t drop that top into a fixed steel frame. I would want to allow for some seasonal wood movement. (It would be OK, I guess, if the frame is sized for the maximum size/highest moisture content the top will ever achieve).

I would feel safer with the top angles running under the wood top, with some slotted holes to allow movement (and attach with some screws driven up from underneath):

- jerryminer

Jerryminer- that’s kind of what I was thinking as the frame is not designed to drop the woodtop in, but rather have it sit on top like you show in your diagram. The key then is to have the slotted holes to allow for any expansion/contraction with the wood. Thank you much!

Hazim

View ChefHDAN's profile

ChefHDAN

808 posts in 2312 days


#6 posted 10-02-2015 03:46 PM

DO NOT USE BLO! Boiled Linseed Oil BLO has poisonous dryers in it and IT IS NOT SAFE

In my kitchens we use a lot of John Boos blocks and tables, it’s beautiful work & he’s cheaper than trying to do it myself. Their Mystery Oil on amazon is actually cheaper than when I try to get it from local suppliers

I think you’re top is long grain in which case these three bottles would last you at least a year. If the top is end grain the first application could take an entire bottle

Definitely use some sort of attachment from under mount, a lip around the frame will just catch food debris and become an un-cleanable food contact area from the perspective of US health department inspectors.

I’d also suggest that you have the corners of the top rounded to minimize abuse to the top from rolling carts catching the corner as well as the abuse to your team hip checking the corners

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View MedBaker's profile

MedBaker

4 posts in 432 days


#7 posted 12-29-2015 09:04 PM

Hi Everyone!
Thanks for all the input. I have my table finally :)... Made of beechwood attached on a stainless steel frame as jerryminer pointed out with the diagram above. The table looks good and strong. As I had said, the benchtop came unfinished. As I was waiting for some beeswax, I applied 3 – 4 rounds of mineral oil, hoping that it would get the top ready for some dough work. Well, as soon as I had some wetness on the wood, it started “swelling” maybe, if that’s the right terminology, especially at the seams (where two pieces have been glued together). See photo please… Also, certain areas feel kind of rough (I didn’t feel that when I first inspected the benchtop), especially when wet, and I can see those areas are catching flour which is hard to scrape off with my bench scraper. I also noticed tiny pieces of lint caught on those areas when I look up close, after using a piece of cloth to apply mineral oil. I am guessing if that’s the case, trying to clean off wet dough scraps from that kind of surface will be very hard.

As I never had such a piece made from scratch (and highly likely, the well-intended carpenter never prepared a food-safe benchtop like the one I had asked for before), and I only worked with benches that were already made for this purpose, I don’t really know the nuances of the wood that should be there to make this benchtop work for my purpose, other than the fact that I need it to be smooth. Does it need more sanding? Is there something wrong with the glue work? Or maybe the direction of the grain in certain areas is not OK? Or maybe it is just a matter of a proper finish (maybe now that I have some beeswax as well)?

I’d appreciate any feedback you may have so that I can actually use this benchtop for baking.

Thank you!
Hazim

View jerryminer's profile

jerryminer

528 posts in 904 days


#8 posted 12-30-2015 07:50 AM

Most likely the grain has lifted due to contact with moisture (either liquid or vapor). Also possible that the wood was not completely dry when glued/sanded, and/or sanded with dull paper.

I think the fix is to wet the surface (in order to raise the grain), let it dry, and then sand with fresh, sharp sandpaper (180-220). I like to sand on an oblique angle. The goal is to cut off the standing fibers without just pressing them back down onto the surface where they could lift again. You may want to do this a couple of times. Change the paper often so you have sharp cutting edges on the grit.

Remember that mineral oil is not a film finish and does not “lock in” the fibers like a varnish or lacquer would—but it is food safe, does not chip or flake, and is easily replenished.

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

2406 posts in 1772 days


#9 posted 12-30-2015 08:44 AM

You can use virtually any wood finishes that’s suitable for the type of work you going to do on it (including BLO). Once cured wood finishes are food safe. (what are you going to do on this table).

Here’s a article that should help for those who are confused about what’s food safe.

http://www.woodcentral.com/articles/finishing/articles_497a.shtml

This article is on another woodworking forum. If you can’t get to it without joining or givening up your email address let me know and I’ll copy it over here.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View MedBaker's profile

MedBaker

4 posts in 432 days


#10 posted 01-16-2016 09:38 PM

Thanks guys! I sanded the bench a few more rounds and the roughness feels gone. Then, I tried applying a mixture of 1/3 beeswax with mineral oil for the finish. It was a cool day when I did it, so I could feel the stain was kind of solidifying before it could be absorbed. I went ahead anyway and tried to rub it in and shine it off. Then, I tried using the bench next day with flour dusting on it, no water yet though… When it was time to clean up, the flour dust was kind of stuck to the finish. I tried rubbing it off with my hands or a cloth, and the waxy finish was coming off… So, it looks like I am not done with getting this bench fully ready for use. What should I do next so that the finish is clean and easily cleaned without coming off the surface? Maybe a warm application or two with a good wipe?

Thank you again!
Hazim

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

2324 posts in 1759 days


#11 posted 01-16-2016 10:10 PM

Warm your finish up in a double boiler before you apply it. I would have skipped the wax, mineral oil is good enough.

We have a small butcher block and it has 4 holes drilled into the bottom with a forstner bit about an inch deep. It basically sits on top of the four round legs and can’t move. Of course that means I can never turn it over but it’s not like I butcher anything on it.

You’ve already gotten a ton of advice, but if the top sits flat I would just put a screw into each end in the middle board. If it expands widthwise no problem.

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