"Soaking" a Cutting board

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Forum topic by Tooch posted 04-13-2013 01:28 PM 1974 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Tooch's profile


1707 posts in 1844 days

04-13-2013 01:28 PM

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


3599 posts in 2455 days

#1 posted 04-13-2013 01:39 PM

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


16274 posts in 4186 days

#2 posted 04-13-2013 01:41 PM

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


1041 posts in 3111 days

#3 posted 04-13-2013 01:50 PM

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


2649 posts in 2245 days

#4 posted 04-13-2013 02:07 PM

+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


298 posts in 2385 days

#5 posted 04-13-2013 02:10 PM

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 a world where a duck can cross the road and no one asks why.

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2254 days

#6 posted 04-13-2013 02:18 PM

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


117063 posts in 3545 days

#7 posted 04-13-2013 02:45 PM

Here’s another post about this subject

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View jap's profile


1251 posts in 2022 days

#8 posted 04-13-2013 03:02 PM

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


1707 posts in 1844 days

#9 posted 04-13-2013 03:32 PM

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 1835 days

#10 posted 04-16-2013 04:38 AM

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

176 posts in 1880 days

#11 posted 04-16-2013 04:51 AM

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


1707 posts in 1844 days

#12 posted 04-16-2013 09:25 AM

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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