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Restoring cracked and burned butcher block

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Forum topic by JohnMcClure posted 09-01-2016 04:07 PM 743 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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JohnMcClure

15 posts in 100 days


09-01-2016 04:07 PM

Topic tags/keywords: butcher block restoration question

I have a butcher-block topped cabinet. There are two cracks on glue lines, an awful burn-ring-looking-thing, and general surface damage. Plus if you look closely at the end grain, maybe some water damage? I don’t even know!

Anyway I was thinking I’d take the top off, and either use pipe clamps and glue to put it back together, or use pocket holes on the bottom side and screw it together (as well as glue).
What do you guys think? Am I likely to have other problems when I do this?

One of the glue-line cracks goes the length of the top, the other is only cracked at the end. Should I try to split the half-crack apart and re-glue, or just squeeze some glue into the crack and clamp the end?

As far as the surface goes, is it a mistake to just go to town with my belt sander? I have a block plane – should I try that? I don’t know how deep the damage goes.

For once that’s done: I read that walnut oil is a good finish for wooden kitchen surfaces. I’ve never used oil before – can it be used over an oil-based stain?

This is a lot of questions but I haven’t done butcher block, or much restoration, before.
Thanks all!


10 replies so far

View Stan3rd's profile

Stan3rd

2 posts in 136 days


#1 posted 09-01-2016 04:44 PM

I did a similar repair to a large butcher block cutting board recently. I used my thinest blade (1/8”) and cut the length of the board on the table saw on the two joints that were cracked. I was then able to glue them back together and while there was some loss of width on those rows it wasn’t enough to look really off. Then I planed it down a little more than a 1/8” to get it back to flat and remove some huge gouges. I sanded the sides and bottom to remove the rest of the finish and re-finished it with Generals salad bowl finish. I think walnut oil would work great also, I just happened to have some of that around from some bowl projects.

It looks like new and my Mom and Dad are happy to have their favorite cutting board back in action.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

13711 posts in 2078 days


#2 posted 09-01-2016 05:19 PM

Saw the split, as Stan suggested. Joint the edges (square and true), re-glue. Pocket screws not neccessary, as a proper glue joint is plenty strong.

Block plane is like bringing a knife to a gunfight. Need a jack or fore plane at minimum to push across that piece. So maybe several grits on the sander if that’s what you’ve got.

Can’t hurt it, right?

Just try to keep removals even. Use a straight edge across the top to check for flat as you go.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View ScottM's profile

ScottM

346 posts in 1606 days


#3 posted 09-02-2016 11:53 AM

Ditto on the “saw it down the glue lines”. Then once you have it split you can get it through a planer to clean up the burns, or maybe just flip it over. Then glue it back together. How does the current underside of the block look?

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JohnMcClure

15 posts in 100 days


#4 posted 09-02-2016 12:55 PM

Thank you all, I’ll try sawing it lengthwise. I don’t have a jointer or planer, so I guess I have to just make sure my TS is tuned for a nice true cut, and hope for the best, eh?
The underside looks fine Scott, except for the 4 screw-holes that were used to attach it to the cabinet. (I assume the split is due to this – not allowing for expansion/contraction).

View Cooler's profile

Cooler

270 posts in 303 days


#5 posted 09-02-2016 01:46 PM


Saw the split, as Stan suggested. Joint the edges (square and true), re-glue. Pocket screws not neccessary, as a proper glue joint is plenty strong.

Block plane is like bringing a knife to a gunfight. Need a jack or fore plane at minimum to push across that piece. So maybe several grits on the sander if that s what you ve got.

Can t hurt it, right?

Just try to keep removals even. Use a straight edge across the top to check for flat as you go.

- Smitty_Cabinetshop

I agree with the saw part. But if he is using a good rip blade no planing should be required. Indeed an old standby for a jointer was to fasten two boards together at either end and run a rip blade along the surfaces. You are guaranteed that the pieces will fit together perfectly. And if you use a good rip blade you are assured of a smooth surface to glue up.

I would throw a few biscuits in to keep things level.

As far as keeping the surface flat on a cutting board: Not necessary. Just sand. The out of flatness and scratches are “patina” and show use. (The burn mark and splitting are showing abuse and should be addressed, however. My butcher block counter split and functions just as a shelf with a microwave on it. So while it can look like abuse it might be just a poor glueup.)

Look here: http://house.ewoodys.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Antique-Butcher-Block-Table.jpg

-- This post is a hand-crafted natural product. Slight variations in spelling and grammar should not be viewed as flaws or defects, but rather as an integral characteristic of the creative process.

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Nubsnstubs

825 posts in 1189 days


#6 posted 09-02-2016 02:14 PM


Look here: http://house.ewoodys.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Antique-Butcher-Block-Table.jpg

- Cooler

Wow, those corner straps are obnoxious. Otherwise, the whole unit is pristine, imho.

John, cut and glue. Remove glue bubbles from top with tool of your choice, and you’re good to go for another lifetime. ...........Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

13711 posts in 2078 days


#7 posted 09-02-2016 02:21 PM

Yeah, I’d have to agree on those corner straps.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View Cooler's profile

Cooler

270 posts in 303 days


#8 posted 09-02-2016 02:22 PM


Look here: http://house.ewoodys.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Antique-Butcher-Block-Table.jpg

- Cooler

Wow, those corner straps are obnoxious. Otherwise, the whole unit is pristine, imho.

- Nubsnstubs

I suspect that the straps were not added by the original craftsman. It was probably added 50 years after being built by a blacksmith. I would not want that in my house with those brackets. If the brackets were hammer forged and black or made from thick pieces of copper or brass I might be OK with it.

I guess it was falling apart and it was easier to patch than it was to take it apart and re-assemble it (which is the right way to restore the piece). But I like the overall worn look for the top.

Frequent re-oiling of the top should prevent splitting on a well-made top.

My new top has 4 coats of oil based poly and I use it as a counter top and not a cutting board. I am careful about hot pans though.

-- This post is a hand-crafted natural product. Slight variations in spelling and grammar should not be viewed as flaws or defects, but rather as an integral characteristic of the creative process.

View ChefHDAN's profile

ChefHDAN

805 posts in 2309 days


#9 posted 09-02-2016 05:59 PM

Mantra for butcher block after you sand down the surface is
Once a day for a week,
Once a week for a month
Once a month thereafter

Some genius thought it be great to mount heat lamps to wooden cutting boards for carving stations for catered events and the like,, Cracked every board ever used within 30 to 60 days, I kept an extra half dozen on hand and fixed the cracked ones as I was able, just as said above, saw it, glue it, sand it smooth…

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

View dalepage's profile

dalepage

130 posts in 300 days


#10 posted 09-03-2016 12:25 AM

I’ve done what Stan3rd did.

Saw the pieces apart. If you use a quality blade like a Forrest, you will get a glue-line edge. Don’t try bandsawing to save wood. You want to rip it and glue it without any jointing to take away material.

Don’t try to glue back the split joint. There’s dried glue in there which will keep the wood from absorbing your new glue in the repair.

Stan’s way is the best way. I’ve done it at least three times.

I would use a router sled to do the final leveling. Watch out using a belt sander and making peaks and valleys in the surface. I’ve also used a sanding sled on a butcher block top, to good results.

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