what finish to put on butcher block counter top

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Forum topic by shelly_b posted 04-13-2014 05:42 PM 2444 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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850 posts in 2113 days

04-13-2014 05:42 PM

I am making a red oak counter top for a costumer. I have never made one and was wondering what kind of finish you guys think is best. I have done alot of research but have found every site says something different. Thanks!

13 replies so far

View pintodeluxe's profile


5654 posts in 2809 days

#1 posted 04-13-2014 05:57 PM

I like Howard’s Butcher block conditioner. It is a mixture of beeswax and mineral oil, and dries to a nice satin finish. I would avoid straight mineral oil, as it never seems to dry. The Howard’s is really nice stuff, and available at Home Depot.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

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721 posts in 1561 days

#2 posted 04-13-2014 06:02 PM

I also use the Howard’s with the beeswax mixture. Leaves a great finish and protection.


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4723 posts in 2347 days

#3 posted 04-13-2014 06:16 PM

I like General Finishes, Salad bowl finish.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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1062 posts in 2845 days

#4 posted 04-13-2014 06:44 PM

The finish really depends on the use, the salad bowl finishes are good for vessels or surfaces that will not be cut on, if it is going to be used regularly as a cutting board surface,

I like the Boo’s Block Mystery Oil,

The adage for oil is, Once a day for a week, once a week for a month, and then as needed, usually once a month around my operations, where we’ve got 7 or 8 BB tables.

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

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986 posts in 1517 days

#5 posted 04-13-2014 06:47 PM

shelly, you didn’t say if the butcher block is made with the end grain as the surface. There’s a special problem with red oad in that the end grain is porous all the way through. I would think you’d need to use a finish that would tend to clog the pores, such as a wax. I would be concerned about juices finding open pores and spoiling. Fortunately the pores are quite small. I’ve never seen this brought up as an issue so maybe it’s a not an issue.

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7736 posts in 2003 days

#6 posted 04-13-2014 08:04 PM

Here’s another vote for the Howards stuff

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

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8189 posts in 2573 days

#7 posted 04-13-2014 08:19 PM

I like using Emmet’s Good stuff

View shelly_b's profile


850 posts in 2113 days

#8 posted 04-13-2014 09:33 PM

It is going to be edge grain, not end grain. I don’t think it will be used as a cutting board…maybe to roll out dough though. From what I’ve read, if it is going to be used for “food preperation” it needs oil, if not it can be any type of film finish…but I’m not sure what they mean by food prep. Does that just mean cutting food? Or is that any food touching the surface period…Also, why are most BB counter tops such thin peices of wood? Is this to reduce movement, to save material, or for looks? I would like to see more of the grain. Sorry so many questions! I want to sound like I know what I’m talking about if she has any questions. Thanks!!

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850 posts in 2113 days

#9 posted 04-13-2014 09:45 PM

thanks for everyones input! When I don’t know what website to believe I always come here:)

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2899 posts in 2244 days

#10 posted 04-13-2014 09:58 PM

Food safety is not in question (or shouldn’t be here). Every finish you can buy is food safe when cured. The problem is that a finish isn’t going to take abuse well in that environment. You have to treat it as sacrificial and as such, needing to be refinished often.

The problem is if you have ever tried to refinish a piece with poly (“salad bowl oil” is simply 3/4 solvent, 1/4 ploy) or other film building finishes, you know it’s a major project that no one really wants to undertake. To make things easier on your customer, use your own mineral oil/beeswax mix or get the Howards. Give them a bottle of it too.

All they need to do is squeeze a little out and rub it with a paper towel once a quarter (or more if it gets used/washed a lot). No prep, no sanding, no gloves, no fumes, no waiting 7 to 10 days for thinned polyurethane to cure before you can use it again


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2657 posts in 2273 days

#11 posted 04-13-2014 10:18 PM

shelly_b.....Yet another vote for Howard’s Butcher Block Conditioner. Lumberjoe makes an excellent point about making things easier for your customer. Applying Howard’s is as easy as it gets

-- Measure "at least" twice and cut once

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4040 posts in 1889 days

#12 posted 04-14-2014 06:17 PM

Just another thought here, but a pour on epoxy works great and has a really nice thick finish if that is something that you are looking for. I am also a huge fan of tung oil to really bring out the grain in the wood, but add a few coats of spar poly on it. Looks awesome, maintance free and last a REALLY long time. Hope this helps

-- The Old Rednek Workshop

View shelly_b's profile


850 posts in 2113 days

#13 posted 04-15-2014 07:42 PM

Thanks guys! I think I will give her a finished sample of each, give her the pros and cons(now that I can), and let her choose.

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