Cutting board finish problems

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Forum topic by saminmn posted 10-05-2012 08:51 PM 1522 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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19 posts in 2236 days

10-05-2012 08:51 PM

Hi all,

I am a newbie to WW and to LJ. Last winter I made a maple cutting board. I got some Watco Butcher Block Oil & Finish. I was never able to get anything close to a good finish and after sanding down to wood 3 or 4 times and starting over, I decided to wait for warmer temps. I got back to it at the end of the summer with no better luck. Now I am ready to sand of most or all of the finish and start over with a new finishing material, probably mineral oil. But as I read postings of others here today, I see that the product is used successfully. So I would like to grow from my experiences before moving on. My efforts to date have all been applied straight from the can as is, no thinner. I do not think it has ever flowed out as it should have – but I am a newbie and have no frame of reference to really understand what I am doing.

I tried wiping on, as directed. Tried wiping on and wiping off after doing some reading. Tried using a foam brush and wiping off. All efforts were with multiple coats showing no improvement after 2nd coat. Used 400 grit paper between coats. It has been a long time since I started the cutting board, but I think I used 220 grit between 1st and 2nd coats last winter.

I am thinking maybe material had been on shelf too long and it has probably been open too long now to be reliable. I am looking for ideas on why I was fighting this and for how to have a better experience moving forward.

-- Sam -- Northfield, MN

7 replies so far

View AandCstyle's profile


3170 posts in 2431 days

#1 posted 10-06-2012 12:58 AM

Sam, you may be able to get some guidance from this article.

-- Art

View waho6o9's profile


8481 posts in 2751 days

#2 posted 10-06-2012 02:59 AM

Welcome to LumberJocks Sam!

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3224 days

#3 posted 10-06-2012 07:06 AM


There is no point adding oil after the second coat as the surface is sealed and will absorb no more. Also, if the cutting board is intended to be used instead of displayed, the LAST thing you want on it would be a film finish—unless you want to eat bits of finish. The best finishes for cutting boards are mineral oil or beeswax. Both give a good look, don’t cause problems mixing with food and are easily renewed.

If you have to have a high shine and still be used ( for a little while ) use shellac. You can eat that stuff. In fact. You do if you take a capsule. Welcome to Lumber Jocks. Work safely and have fun.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View Wildwood's profile


2448 posts in 2308 days

#4 posted 10-06-2012 11:43 AM

I read MSDS for this product not sure this stuff is worth the money. Whatever sheen (wet look) going to get fades as product dries because of dryers added.

It is true for food grade mineral oil (laxative) too. Wet look disappears as oil absorbed into wood. Because a petroleum base and never really dries will eventually get a build up making clean-up easier after several re-applications. Do not use baby oil or industrial grade mineral oil on food utensils, bowls or food prep surfaces.

Quick read and alternative ideas:

-- Bill

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3654 days

#5 posted 10-06-2012 02:16 PM

I always recommend Howard Butcher Block Conditioner. Its a blend of mineral oil, carnauba wax, beeswax, and vitamin E (not sure what the vitamin E does.) Its always worked great. I go over the board a few times a year to keep it conditioned. You can purchase it at Rockler.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View CharlieM1958's profile


16278 posts in 4392 days

#6 posted 10-06-2012 02:25 PM

Without a photo, it’s hard to say if there is a problem or not. I don’t really know how you expected the finish to look.

As others have said, you’re not going to get (nor do you want) a glossy finish by putting oil on a cutting board. I’ve used both mineral oil and walnut oil, and both behave and look about the same. Wipe on, wipe off, repeat once, done.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View saminmn's profile


19 posts in 2236 days

#7 posted 10-07-2012 10:32 PM

Thanks for replies. For now I will work with mineral oi for 2 or 3 coats and then maybe try mixing in bees wax. First l need to get it back down to bare wood. This may end up being the thinnest cutting board ever (8-])

-- Sam -- Northfield, MN

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