Butcher Block Countertop Refinishing
Yesterday I refinished our butcher block countertops. It was totally necessary as Meredith created an interesting sculpture/installation that required some dying of canvas. Mer decided to do so at our place on our counters (pictures to follow) obviously Meredith doesn’t respect wood.
I’ve never refinished a coutertop before so I googled it and figured it’d be something I could get done in an afternoon. The process is actually pretty simple but you have to follow the steps, have the right tools (yes Craig, the orbital sander saved the day!) and most importantly get a good Butcher Block Oil. Turns out Craig and Cara have their own proprietary Butcher Block Oil down at Union Wood & Supply Co. which is located at 503 Railway Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada. The Google Streetview image is old so if you’re looking for it, it looks like this now. They have tons of awesome stuff inside like these cool filament bulbs.
So I picked up some of their butcher block oil, it’s basically a mix of mineral oil and beeswax oil. It’s food safe (obviously super important) and really brings out the beauty of the wood. Plus it’s an amazing looking bottle.
So here’s the mess we had to clean up, truthfully I had a fear that the dye had penetrated so deep that we’d be stuck with a stain for good - which is obviously a bummer.
Dye everywhere! And some rings from putting cast iron pans on the counter, I forgot that since we keep them well seasoned they’re basically just covered in oil.
Close up of one of the dyed areas, totally thought this wasn’t coming out.
The far end of our counter didn’t get damaged by the dye but there was still some watermarks, slices from knives/pizza cutters, and oil stains.
Craig mentioned it was going to be dusty and I had no idea exactly how dusty he meant, it’s insane! We had dust upstairs in our loft, no idea how it got there. So the first decision I had to make was do I go Crips or Bloods for my respiratory gear … obvs went with the Crips cuz of their walk.
So sanded first with an 80 grit sandpaper and was shocked that the stains sanded right off. There was no trace. It’s really important to sand with the grain and do every area evenly to avoid any wavy spots. I’m sure I had to do one or two extra passes because I was removing dye but overall it was really easy.
This is the whole area after the final sanding. I followed up the 80 grit with 120 grit and then 240 grit.
And this is the counter after one coat of the butcherblock oil. It was really fun to apply the 1st coat because the change is so drastic, you go from dry shitty looking wood to an oiled rich appearance that really starts to bring out the grain.
This was after the second coat, colour is getting deeper - the sun started going down so I lost a bit of light (which explains this odd picture).
And this is after the 3rd coat. I allowed 15 minutes of drying time in between the 1st and 2nd coat then I waited 30 minutes (don’t worry, I drank a beer on my deck - so I wasn’t bored) before applying the last coat.
As you can see it looks awesome! The counters are much smoother than they were before I refinished them and the colour is waaaaaaay better.
Here’s the entire finished area, looks great, bacteria free, food safe and ready to go. All in I think it took me about 3 hours. At the same time I refinished a small little Ikea butcher block cart thing we have as well as 2 cutting boards. I figured why not, since I already had the sander and oil out.
So when you finish your Union Wood Co. Butcher Block Oil should look well used like this. As you can see it goes a long way, I used just over 1/2 the bottle on an entire counter, a cart, and 2 cutting boards. It’s pretty awesome and with Christmas coming up would make a pretty cool gift. It’s actually super versatile, I used it on our liquor cabinet (which is actually the wooden suitcase my Oma fled Germany with when she just 16yrs old) and as you can see the before and after is like night and day:
Before (Open - I know, I know, I need to restock my scotch selection!)
After (Open - if you look close, there’s even less Talisker left - oops!)
So yeah, awesome stuff - it says on the bottle that it’d be good for leather too, which I could only imagine would have the same effect of giving the object new life. So all in all, the entire process took a while, was somewhat involved but by following all the steps and using a good product I couldn’t be happier with the final result. Now we just have to continue respecting the wood.