"Soaking" a Cutting board

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Forum topic by Tooch posted 495 days ago 1043 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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592 posts in 501 days

495 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: question finishing

So I am trying to mass produce cutting blocks to sell as a fundraiser to buy a new SawStop for my school. I am getting to the finishing stage, and am looking for some advice.

After looking at a bunch of projects on here, I have read a lot of explanations that said they “soak” the boards in oil for a few days. I imagine a giant 55 gal barrel filled with mineral oil that people are dropping their cutting boards into, but I know that’s not the case. Does anyone have a suggestion on how I can efficiently finish 50+ cutting boards?

-- "Well, the world needs ditch-diggers too..." - Judge Smails

12 replies so far

View Dallas's profile


2865 posts in 1113 days

#1 posted 495 days ago

Hmm, I never thought of soaking them that way but it seems to me you could take a rubbermaid tub, fill with sufficient oil to cover the boards.
Place top on the tub, create a place to attach a vacuum connection, attach vacuum hose, turn on vacuum, wait until the board stops bubbling.

Personally, I seldom try for more than 1/4” to 3/8” penetration. If the new owners take care of the board correctly it will soak more in with each coating.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View CharlieM1958's profile


15684 posts in 2844 days

#2 posted 495 days ago

I’m pretty sure by “soak” they mean that they apply the oil liberally and do not wipe away the excess for several days.

I can see where it might be a little tedious to oil that many boards, but it shouldn’t really take all that long.

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

View nailbanger2's profile


958 posts in 1769 days

#3 posted 495 days ago

I agree with Charlie, and the pyramids let you do all sides at once. All you need is the space to dry them. I have a rolling scaffold that makes a nice drying rack. Good Luck!

-- Wish I were Norm's Nephew

View kdc68's profile (online now)


1956 posts in 902 days

#4 posted 495 days ago

+1 Charlie and nailbanger2.....55 gallons would be crazy expensive and would cut into your funds for a Sawstop. And you would a lot of mineral oil left over after 50 + boards are coated. I wouldn’t expect a board would absorb a great deal. In order not to have a lot of mineral oil left over, each board would have to absorb a gallon each….50+ boards/55 gallons

-- Measure "at least" twice and cut once

View MNgary's profile


235 posts in 1042 days

#5 posted 495 days ago

Contrary to some opinions, mineral oil dries/evaporates when exposed to air. For my initial MO application I apply very liberally then wrap with saran wrap. Takes longer before I can apply subsequent coats, but that’s because the breadboard has to absorb the MO, which is the goal.

That’s how I soak the breadboard.

-- I dream of the world where a duck can cross the road and no one asks why.

View Charlie's profile


1008 posts in 912 days

#6 posted 495 days ago

I’ve actually done this. Get a tarp (or 2) and cut it to fit what I’m about to describe..

Sawhorses with 2×4 laid across them (several). As long as you have room for. On the 2×4s, you run them though your table saw and rip one edge (the inch and a half dimension) with blade over at 45 degrees. You can take one big rip and end u with a “point” along an edge or you can run it through twice and take off less so you have the “point” running down the middle. When you set them on the uncut edge on the sawhorses, they’ll be unstable so I screwed some 1×3 firring strips to the bottom, perpendicular to the “rows” of 2×4s.

OIL the points of the 2×4s (keeps them from sucking oil from the boards and leaving a line). You can adjust the size of this to accommodate a lot of boards. I used 4 saw horses and 2 16 foot runs on each. Tarps under it all and…..


Use a wallpaper brush. It’s coarse and leaves a LOT of oil on the surface and doesn’t squeegie it off like a finer brush would. Almost like laying down blacktop sealer. Pour some oil on a board, spread it with the brush, next. You’ll get a feel for how much oil will cover without too much drippage, because unless you can recover the oil from the tarps, it will get wasted. We recovered oil from the section between the saw horses, but from the saw horses out to the end was left to waste. Apply, flip, apply. When most seem to have soaked it up, apply, flip, apply again.

The truth is, you can work like mad to get that initial oiling done, but fast oiling is not deep oiling unless you use a big vacuum system. So whatever you get from 1 day of actively keeping them pretty wet with oil is about the best you’re going to get. They’ll STILL need oiling regularly while they’re “young”.

I’ve said it before.. I cook. I USE cutting boards. I oil them for 3 months before they ever see a blade. :)

And NEVER use soapy water on a wood cutting board. SCrub it with Kosher salt and just about a table spoon of water. NEVER use soap. It removes the oil you’re working so hard to get into the wood.

View a1Jim's profile


112010 posts in 2202 days

#7 posted 495 days ago

Here’s another post about this subject

-- Custom furniture

View jap's profile


1225 posts in 679 days

#8 posted 495 days ago

i fill a tray with oil and dip the board in and pull it out and allow it to absorb the oil, if it appears dry i will dip it in again

-- Joel

View Tooch's profile


592 posts in 501 days

#9 posted 495 days ago

thanks guys, really good advice here. I plan on trying some of these things and will let you know what I find to work best

-- "Well, the world needs ditch-diggers too..." - Judge Smails

View reesbee's profile


6 posts in 492 days

#10 posted 492 days ago

I’d been told to use cooking oil on breadboards – as it’s food grade. Is this mineral oil you talk of here a food grade oil?

Here’s an idea – why not just print off a blurb to put with each chopping board that you sell, with instructions for the new owner to soak the board in oil before use. Let them have the problem of how much to put on and how?! ;-)

-- "Trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle." ~ Michelangelo

View Bill Swartzwelder's profile

Bill Swartzwelder

174 posts in 538 days

#11 posted 492 days ago

Mineral oil is a laxative, so it is food grade. Vegetable oil can turn rancid.

-- What if the Hokey Pokey really is what its all about?

View Tooch's profile


592 posts in 501 days

#12 posted 492 days ago

I went out to Rockler over the weekend and picked up a bottle of this:

it has a pre-mixed formula of mineral oil, beeswax, and carnauba wax and is supposed to be really good. I’m sure that I will still need to re-coat after a while, but hopefully the initial coating lasts a little longer than just mineral oil alone.

-- "Well, the world needs ditch-diggers too..." - Judge Smails

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