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  1. #1
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    Oct 2012
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    Default Butchers block restoration

    Hi There, I have just purchased an unused but old chopping block that has some mould on the surface and some cracking. It is still a very sound block that I think has plenty of life in it once it is restored and in use. It will eventually be used daily in a butcher shop but I would like to begin bringing it back to life prior to that.

    My question is what is the best way to go about getting some oils back into the timber?

    I've attached some photos for info. Thanks in advance.
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  3. #2
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    I would think that the first operation to "bring it back to life" would be to remove 3mm or so off the surface to get rid of the grime and nasties lurking there. You could use a router to perform this action. When the surface is refreshed then you could add oils to make it usable.
    Just do it!

    Kind regards Rod

  4. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by chambezio View Post
    I would think that the first operation to "bring it back to life" would be to remove 3mm or so off the surface to get rid of the grime and nasties lurking there. You could use a router to perform this action. When the surface is refreshed then you could add oils to make it usable.

    Absolutely chambezio, that will be my first move. Light sand, then belt sand then router if required. I suppose "what oil" to use is my main query.

  5. #4
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    Have a look at the U-Beaut web site for their recommendations. That site will also tell you how to apply it
    Just do it!

    Kind regards Rod

  6. #5
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    The dark soscalled mould is probably embedded rancid fat. Router or 30/40 grit belt sander should clear most of it.

  7. #6
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    The surface is all cracked and that's not great surely for its intended use. Maybe its been left in a hot shed or in direct sun. The wood has shrunk .
    It can me made good though .
    First Id scrape that gunk off with a cabinet scraper. Don't sand it yet . You don't want crap going down the cracks . (edit . Router is the go as well as said above .)
    Then a sharp hand plane across the top and sides. When its clean I'd then give it a wet sand . I do this with an air powered random orbital sander but if you dont have one then by hand will do. Sanding while wet will give you moisture to bring the timber back to size possibly and the dust will be rubbed in and fill the cracks . It might be best to start sanding with a 220 grit , not so coarse so you get fine dust. Add some white PVA to this as your doing it and your making the dust go hard as well . Not much though just a teaspoon over the whole wet top will do . Add more water and PVA as it gets dry and go down through the grades of paper until about 320 grit .
    your wanting a no crack top so re hydrating and filling with as natural as possible filler is the go . White PVA is non toxic. Then let the table sit a week in a situation that doesn't get extreme heat or sun .
    Give another dry sand after that and then Oil it with what ever Butchers Block tops are supposed to be oiled with. I would think Paraffin Oil would be the go but I'm not 100% sure on that. Its sold in chemists and people drink it. If you have only used the minimal PVA then the dust in those cracks will still soak in oil through that. The whole thing should become one again.

  8. #7
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    Legends. Thanks for the help. Definitely enough here to start with. I'll update with progress.

  9. #8
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    In our butcher shops the butchers blocks were worked fairly hard.

    Every year or so a guy would come in to true up the top.
    He used a chainsaw to get the top level then smoothed it with a belt sander.
    Nothing pretty, just get it into working order.

    As you could imagine there was a lot of lamb, beef and pork fat chopped into the block.
    Every day the blocks were scrubbed down with boiling water and a very coarse brush.
    All ready for work the next day.
    The constant use kept the timber hydrated so you never saw any cracks.

    I would clean the timber with a 40 grit belt sander until it was clean. Then #80 to make it a bit smooth.
    Feed the timber with mineral oil.
    In use just keep it clean as you would any food preparation surface in the kitchen.
    Scally
    __________________________________________
    The ark was built by an amateur
    the titanic was built by professionals

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scally View Post
    In our butcher shops the butchers blocks were worked fairly hard.

    Every year or so a guy would come in to true up the top.
    He used a chainsaw to get the top level then smoothed it with a belt sander.
    Nothing pretty, just get it into working order.

    As you could imagine there was a lot of lamb, beef and pork fat chopped into the block.
    Every day the blocks were scrubbed down with boiling water and a very coarse brush.
    All ready for work the next day.
    The constant use kept the timber hydrated so you never saw any cracks.

    I would clean the timber with a 40 grit belt sander until it was clean. Then #80 to make it a bit smooth.
    Feed the timber with mineral oil.
    In use just keep it clean as you would any food preparation surface in the kitchen.
    Hi scally, I was a butcher for many years and am about to get back into it opening my own shop. I only wish I had have bought the old blocks from the last shop I worked in...anyway.

    I'm very familiar with looking after seasoned blocks but I've never had to get one to that stage from the state this one is in. This one is too small to be a proper work area but will be perfect for preparing smaller cuts for window display....and I want it as a feature in the retail space of the shop.

    I've spent a couple of hours on it today (hand sand and belt sand) and it's looking like it'll come up all right.

    I'm looking at the product in the following link to get some moisture back in to it. FOODSAFE PLUS – U-Beaut Polishes (thanks chambezio for the website)FOODSAFE PLUS – U-Beaut Polishes I'll contact them for some further advice.

  11. #10
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    bilpin
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    Hot water will do what oil will do. Oil will prevent boiling water doing its job at the end of each week or a heavy session (which ever comes first. Block gets sprinkled with flour and scraped at the end of each day. Can you imagine the mess that would make with an oil saturated block? To restore an old block tip it upside down in a meat tray of hot water and leave it for a few days. You will be surprised how big the cracks can be that will close right up.
    Ah the good old days.

  12. #11
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    Oct 2012
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    Thanks rustynail. The top itself is about 1200 x 600 and 250mm thick, a two man lift at a pinch and just to shuffle it around. It could be done but it'd take some help. I like the sound of what you say, it makes sense.

    I've given it a good wire brush to get all the dry old timber off and hit it with a belt sander, it's looking good. Gave it a good wipe down with water and the timber just ate it up in no time.

  13. #12
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    It sounds like you are on the right track.

    Yours is in good condition.
    My brothers cut their butcher shop block in half after they sold the shops. I got one half after several years of neglect. Then neglected it for a few more years.

    Heavy sanding and a good scrub brought it back to life.

    The Ubeaut mineral oil will be better than you can buy anywhere else. I haven't been able to find any that doesn't have some scent or colouring added.
    Scally
    __________________________________________
    The ark was built by an amateur
    the titanic was built by professionals

  14. #13
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    Oz
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    So I've taken some advice from your comments, and some research I have also done, and this is the progress so far.

    I've gone with orange oil (recommended by my local woodwork studio), it seems to be the most common oil used for chopping boards/butchers blocks after some research.

    Once I wire brushed and sanded the top I gave it a light oil and left it over night, I then wire brushed it again and rubbed the crumb that came off back into the block which has filled the smaller gaps. I'll do this at least three more time I reckon. It's looking good so far. I'm sure I'll get plenty of life out of yet.

    What I have noticed since doing this is the block is actually in two parts, if you're able to open the pics and zoom in you will see a clear line across the centre of the block. Not really a concern but just something I hadn't noticed before.

    Thanks again for your help on this project.







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