Cleaning a Butcher Block Top

Last Edited By Krjb Donovan
Last Updated: Feb 28, 2014 06:09 PM GMT

I have a kitchen island with a butcher block which is 36 X 24. I purchased it at a Second Use materials site. The butcher block portion is gooey and needs heavy cleaning. If I try to sand the surface I will just clog the sandpaper. Is there something I can use which will cut through the goo yet not damage the surface? I didn't see any questions/answers that dealt with this particular cleaning issue.

Answer

The only way to do this to a sticky block is to hand scrape it with a sharp cabinet scraper. Some blocks are extremely 'gooey', and there can be a variety of reasons.Usually, it's mineral oil and food buildup...and some people are pretty heavy handed with the oils, which will definitely 'goo' up a block. In some cases,it's a better bet to turn over the block and refinish the other side.....a cabinet scraper is a piece of tool steel, (usually a rectangle about 3"x5"), that is burnished, filed, and burnished again perpendicular to the edge, to cause a wire edge to be created on the steel...this makes a very good cutting tool, and when sharpened properly, is the perfect tool for this type of resurfacing. Be warned that the tool will heat up as one scrapes, and hot enough to give you blisters, especially when scraping Rock Maple blocks...it's a skill to be able to properly sharpen and use one of these, and to know what it feels like when the edge is properly cutting, and when to stop and resharpen it. I would start with a scrub with hot soapy water and a scrub brush, rinse a few times and hand dry with a towel...let that dry overnight and then take a scraper to it. You can see one in action here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKZWqdPFul8&feature=related and they can be found at WoodCraft and online many other places. Notice the way it cuts, not really scraping at all....when done properly you're creating a very sharp and useful edge. There's some controversy as to how to sharpen them, and if you view a few other videos on the site you'll notice that...but essentially when done right...it's either sharp or it's not....and it's clear when it's cutting properly.As with many things, there are several ways to 'skin the cat' as it were...

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