How To Care For Your Butcher Block Cutting BoardHow To Care For Your Butcher Block Cart/Island/Workcenter
Your cutting board/chopping block is made from solid Domestic Hardwood. It has been treated with pure 100% drug store grade Mineral Oil. It is laminated with a non-toxic, water-resistant glue. All boards continue to expand and contract and surfaces will dry out if not treated. There are three different types of board construction: 1) Flat-grain: Boards that are glued with the grain side-by-side as the grain on your dining room table or other furniture. These boards expand side to side, wider in the Summer as they pick up moisture, and less wide in the winter when artificial heat dries out the surface areas. 2) Edge-grain: Boards that are face-glued, so that the surface all have boards exactly the same width. These boards expand up and down like the construction of gym flooring, wooden truckbeds and most butcher block countertops. 3) End-grain: Boards that start off as flat grain panels which are then ripped across the wide grain whose thickness is determined by the desired thickness of the board and then the faces are glued together, thereby exposing the ends of the boards, giving it a checkerboard look. This is a great cutting surface as the knife blade cuts into the end fibers, minimizing cut marks and splintering and does not dull the knife blade.
Whatever the construction, all need care. The most important care tips are: 1) Keep the board clean. This is accomplished by washing the board surface with a quality dish detergent, rinsing, & drying all surfaces immediately. Do not soak in the sink or put the board in the dishwasher. 2) Keep the board well oiled with Catskill's Original Butcher Block Oil or drug store Mineral Oil found in the drug section. Mineral Oil is clear, odorless, tasteless and is FDA approved for food contact. Do not use olive oil, fruit oils, vegetable oils, oils derived from animal fats or the like, as over time these oils tend to get rancid. End-grain boards require double the amount of oil as flat-grain and edge-grain boards as the oil goes deeper into the end-grain fibers. How often should the board be oiled? A rule-of-thumb is: once a week for three weeks and then once a month for three months, then whenever the surfaces appear lighter in color and are drying out. YOU CANNOT OVER-OIL YOUR BOARD!! 3) All surfaces will show scratch marks when a blade goes across the grain, but the hardwood won't splinter like soft woods such as pine. Should the surface of the board get rough it is usually from too much moisture which causes the grain to raise. You can use 220+ sandpaper, sanding with the grain, or use a single-edge razor blade gripped between your thumb and forefinger, and scrape back and forth with the grain. This will remove the raised grain, will not gouge the surface, and will leave the surface smooth. 4) To prolong the life of your board or to repair end checks caused by too much water or the end fibers drying out, simply take a small block of hard beeswax, rub the wax at an angle across end checks and then wax the ends of the boards and massage the wax into the board with your fingers. It's also a good idea to wax the gravy/juice groove if your board has one. This little trick essentially water-proofs your board by keeping some moisture/oil under the surface and by keeping excess moisture out of the board surfaces. Repeat this every six months or so , or whenever the board needs sealing. Since end-grain boards have all surfaces exposed, it's a good idea to oil the board several times, then apply the beeswax to all surfaces, again massaging the wax into the fibers.
Your Catskill unit is made of solid Northeastern Hardwood and hardwood veneered products and need care to prevent the unit from drying out. Before your unit left the factory, all parts were dipped in drug store quality mineral oil, a clear, odorless, tasteless, FDA approved product. Mineral oil help keep the wood parts from drying out and bring out the color/grain when applied.
You should oil your cart with Catskill's Original Butcher Block Oil or drug store mineral oil. Do not use olive oil, vegetable oils, animal fat oils or products like Murphy's Oil Soap. Treatment rule-of-thumb is once a week for three weeks, then once a month for three months, then as needed when the wood starts to pale and dry out.
If you use the top of the unit for food preparation, clean with a little soap and water, rinse and then dry immediately.
If you use too much water or the unit is in a very humid atmosphere, the top surface may become rough. To make the top smooth again, use a single-edge razor blade & scrape with the grain. This will remove the roughness and not gouge the surface, or you can sand with the grain, using 220+ sandpaper.
If you want to put a permanent coating on your unit, you must use an oil-based product. Danish Oil by Watco or a good quality tung oil can be used. Follow the directions on the container, usually apply several coats. If you put a permanent finish on the unit top, it is recommended that you wait a few weeks to let the oil become completely hardened before putting raw food on it.
One trick to prolong the life of the top if you don't put a permanent coating on it, is to take a small block of hard beeswax and wax the endgrain. Rub the wax into the ends of the boards and then massage the wax into the end fibers with your hand. The heat from your fingers will help the wax to penetrate the grain. This will essentially waterproof the top.
Consider purchasing Catskill's Butcher Block Care Kit which contains 2 bottles of mineral oil, a block of hard beeswax, a scraping blade and sandpaper.
Q – Should I use my table top for cutting and chopping?
A – Most of our customers do not since cuts and scratches somewhat mar the beauty of the top. Most people use a cutting board or chopping block placed on the top. However, the top is made for chopping and cutting, and minor scratches can be removed by sanding with high grit sandpaper or using a single edge razor blade for scraping.
Q – Can I prepare raw food on my unit top or cutting board, or should I use a plastic cutting board for food safety?
A– Recent studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Food Research Institute, prove that wood is safer for food preparation than poly or glass. Extensive tests show that all sorts of bacterium, including salmonella, disappear quickly on wood, whereas the same bacterium continue to live and thrive on plastic. These tests confirm that the idea of plastic being more hygienic than wood is a perception that is flat wrong and is due mostly to advertising. Nonetheless, always clean your wooden cutting board surface with soapy water, making sure to remove any food particles. Dry immediately!!
Do not soak or put cutting boards in the dishwasher!
Q – What kind of oil should I use on my table? How often?
A - We recommend Catskill's Original Butcher Block Oil. Drug store mineral oil can also be effective in sealing wood. You should oil all wooden / veneer parts, inside and outside, including the bottom of the cart top, but especially the cart top and edges, where use and cleaning dry the wood out the most.
Boiled Linseed Oil is not recommended, since it is not highly refined and often leaves a tacky surface.
Olive Oil/Vegetable Oil provides only nominal protection for your table and can get rancid.
Q – How do you remove a ding, dig or scratch from the top?
A – For small scratches or dings the easiest way is to take a little water and put it on the ding or scratch. Wait a few minutes, then take a metal cap such as a bottle cap and place it over the water. Take your iron, on cotton setting (high), and place the tip on the metal cap. This will boil the water in the wood and rise the grain. Remove cap, let dry, and lightly sand with fine grit paper with the grain to remove raised grain and scratches. For deep scratches you may have to repeat process. For deep dents drive a series of ¼ deep holes with a needle into dent to allow the water to penetrate deeper. You can also iron over a damp cloth. Deep holes or scratches, not on the top, may be filled with colored wax sticks available at any hardware or paint store. Deep holes in top can be patched with a resin or plastic colored stick which is melted into the hole, scraped flat with a single edge razor blade and sanded with the grain. Darker colored sticks blend in better then very light colors. These darker colors look like mineral streaks.
Q. – I have small end checks or slight separations of the joints along the edge of the top. How can I correct this?
A. – This is caused by excessive loss of moisture due to the dry atmosphere, etc. Use an equal mixture of mineral oil and melted paraffin on area, making sure paraffin fills the small cracks. Follow package instructions when melting paraffin – use a double boiler or microwave, as paraffin is flammable! You can also use beeswax.
Q. – How do I clean my butcher-block top? Remove dough? Wax? Stains? Cigarette burns? Ink spots?
A. – Most spills are easily wiped clean with damp sponge or cloth. Never soak or let water stand on your table for long periods of time as water effects the grain and even though the glue is water-resistant, it is not waterproof. Be sure to clean your top well with a mild detergent, rinsing it well with a damp sponge and toweling dry before applying new oil.
To remove dough, use a little salt on a sponge and rub with the grain or try using a plastic ice scrapper.
To remove wax and gum, make it brittle with an ice pack. When the deposit hardens, use your fingernail or ice scrapper to remove.
Your top shouldn't stain very easily, but to remove glass rings or white spots, use extra fine sand paper or No. 00 steel wool moistened with linseed oil and sand with the grain. Rings should come out when reoiled.
Burns should be sanded out if possible, again, sanding with the grain. Deep burns should be scrapped out with a sharp rounded edge blade, then feather sand and reoil.
Grease spots are removed using a little bit of mineral spirits – use sparingly! After application with a small brush, soak up excess with clean cloth, sand lightly or put salt over area treated to absorb any residue. Then take a little water, mild detergent and clean area.
WARNING – Whatever the stain, try sanding with (100+ grit, fine grit) the grain first since your top is tough and chances are the stain doesn't go very deep because of the close grain. If you must resort to cleaners, follow the directions on the container, be careful, use sparingly on the top and make sure all residue is sanded and washed clean before placing food on top!! Keep these cleaners out of the reach of children! DO NOT USE SOLVENTS, PAINT THINNERS, OR BLEACH!!
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