What products can I use to clean old butcher block?
If it's going to be used to prepare food on you will have to be careful of what cleaners you'd use. I'd use bleach (or bleach in water) to clean it, then give it a thin coating of mineral oil. (others may recommend olive oil, but mineral oil doesn't go rancid like vegetable oils do). (06/29/2009)
I don't like where or how mineral oil is made, or where it comes from. I'd try high oleic safflower oil. It tends to last longer and doesn't seem to rot like other oils. It's great for cooking, as high heat doesn't cause it to be turned into trans fatty acids, which are very bad. (06/30/2009)
I just recently purchased a very old butcher block cart for $5. It was in very good condition structurally speaking, but the top was in very poor condition loaded with stains and very soiled. I washed it with simple dish washing detergent and water and immediately dried it with a dry cloth. I then sanded it going with the grain until all of the stains were gone. I then took a new paint brush and painted olive oil on it. I let it dry and put a 2nd coat on and let it dry. I then buffed it with a cotton dry cloth. It came out beautiful and looks brand new. I sold it for $100. Good luck with yours. (07/01/2009)
Without knowing more about your newly acquired treasure its very difficult to guide you, but here goes. Butcher blocks are meant to be sanded lightly and not to be finished (the food factor). It's made of various woods to form one thick plank or just one type of wood made into a thick plank. What usually happens with bakers and butchers at the end of their day is a good dowsing of bleach, maybe leave it on for a second or 2, just to clean it and kill any bacteria, then rinse and wipe/rub with linseed oil and maybe again if its kinda dry.
If your treasure has been finished then its not for the baker or butcher and it's time to refinish. Your table is kinda old and might need other help ie., rickety, warped, etc. Time to make your treasure a treasureable heirloom. Repair, refinish, and restore.
Your local hardware store will help you with the stripper, again without knowing the type of wood or woods it's kinda hard to guide you, but anything that's thick and that you don't have to leave on for long 20 minutes max. Do another coat if you have to, but do not scrape. Do not use a putty knife, it can leave nicks slashes and gouges which you probably have plenty of (which will leave great old character in the wood) then rinse (with a hose if possible after you wipe of the waste and old finish). Don't do the legs unless really grody. It's very time consuming and can take away from the character and age of the table/wood.
Sand lightly to bring back wood color, then bleach. A little trick is to do the bleaching in the sun (don't leave wet too long, remember less is more) really brings out the color of the wood and rinse again, dry, then refinish either with a water soluble polycyclic or just linseed oil which may need many coats/rubs.
A warning; do not use metal of any type. Your wood is old and may be soft, especially after stripping and cleaning. Dry thoroughly, sawdust like job said is cool and should even fill in any unseen cracks, but no wire. Just use a fine sand paper (wet if possible) for your treasure.
Send us a before and after picture, "wood" love to see it as a treasured heirloom.
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