Reconditioning old cutting boards

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Forum topic by stefang posted 06-01-2009 05:10 PM 5584 views 1 time favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View stefang's profile


16209 posts in 3569 days

06-01-2009 05:10 PM

A friend asked me if I could recondition his cutting board. Does anybody know if there is safe liquid I could clean a cutting board with prior to sanding? I’m talking about a board that is saturated very deep in animal fats from hot meats. The cutting board is an end-grain butcher block kind. It is pretty gross and I wouldn’t even think of belt sanding it without getting it clean first. I don’t know what kind of glue is in it, but I assume its waterproof or at least I’m willing to take that chance. I also don’t dare trying it in my planer which is somewhat underpowered and only has two cutters.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

13 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16281 posts in 4453 days

#1 posted 06-01-2009 05:31 PM

I would try either Simple Green or a solution of Dawn dishwashing liquid and water. I’d wipe it one liberally with a sponge, let it soak a few minutes, then scrape with a wide-blade putty knife. Repeat as necessary until it looks good enough to sand.

Disclaimer: I have no experience here…. this is just what I would try.

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

View ghazard's profile


382 posts in 3745 days

#2 posted 06-01-2009 06:25 PM

Depending on how much thickness it can stand to lose you could build up some temporary “rails” on either side of the cutting board, mount your router on a stiff board and resurface it that way. That would remove the gross wood but I think I’d still clean the new surface really well before final sanding. I hear vinegar does a good job of cleaning wood boards. ??

-- "Hey, you dang woodchucks! Quit chuckin' my wood!"

View Elaine's profile


113 posts in 3858 days

#3 posted 06-01-2009 06:52 PM

I’ve sometimes used lemon juice or white vinegar and 0000 steel wool to cut grease -anything food safe really would work. I’ve also used one of those green scrubby kitchen things (can’t remember what they’re called) with mineral oil and bees wax mixture. Bees wax is a natural anti bacterial product or so I’ve read. Call someone raising bees and you can get it pretty inexpensive. You do have to filter it to get the bee crud out. Have you thought of just using a scraper or a piece of glass? I know the fats have penetrated deeply but it may be just enough to bring it back.

View saw4fun's profile


176 posts in 3574 days

#4 posted 06-01-2009 07:03 PM

Green scrubby thing = Brillo Pad I drew the same word blank yesterday! :) As for the cutting board,, boiling water?

View stefang's profile


16209 posts in 3569 days

#5 posted 06-01-2009 07:31 PM

I think I will try the vinegar soak first and then go with Charlies detergent idea. I also liked ghazard’s routing idea. Getting a fresh level surface would be nice and I don’t have a suitable plane (or the energy) for this work. I liked the boiling idea, but am worried I might destroy the glue.Thank to you all for your helpful replies.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View blackcherry's profile


3338 posts in 4058 days

#6 posted 06-01-2009 11:42 PM

I recently spoke with a Chief about this very same question. His school of training says to make a brine of salt and water to a paste consistency then rub this solution into the cutting board. The salt solution will draw up any residue that have penetrated in the wood grain, also it will eliminated any odors from herbs and garlic smells. After the salt solution has set for a short time just wipe with a freshly rise towel a few times and allow the board to dry on end. You should never soak a board in standing water. This method has my seal of approval good luck on your trail….Blkcherry

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18423 posts in 3911 days

#7 posted 06-02-2009 03:28 AM

I think I’d try to cut 1/4” off with a handsaw first if you can afford to loose that much..

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Adon's profile


9 posts in 3549 days

#8 posted 06-02-2009 06:16 AM

steam might clean it well. ?


View stefang's profile


16209 posts in 3569 days

#9 posted 06-02-2009 10:54 PM

Blackcherry, your chef’s routine sounds interesting. If anyone knows how to clean a cutting board I would think a chef would. Might try it. Thanks for the i tip.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Vjeko's profile


135 posts in 3649 days

#10 posted 06-04-2009 02:25 PM

I usually take a hand plane to it and when it gets too thin, I make another one ;)

-- Vjeko Balas - Croatia

View grenger's profile


199 posts in 3602 days

#11 posted 01-24-2013 08:39 PM

did a cutting board with maple and purple-heart… i finished it with beeswax and mineral oi…

strawberries were cut on it and there is now red stained. I saw on the net that i could use lemon juice and soda to remove it. It did remove it but now the board his now a lot darker (black), especially the maple. What can i do to restore the colors

OOPS….. VINEGAR not lemon juice and soda

-- Gerry (the beginner), Gatineau, QC, Canada

View stefang's profile


16209 posts in 3569 days

#12 posted 01-24-2013 09:11 PM

You might try the salt solution suggested above by black cherry.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View pmayer's profile


1032 posts in 3300 days

#13 posted 01-24-2013 09:32 PM

I wouldn’t do it. No telling what nastiness is lurking below the surface of that thing. I would burn it and build a new one.

-- PaulMayer,

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