It’s January, when everything feels new. Well, except for those scratched-up cutting boards that need help recovering from those holiday fêtes.
Once a year, I restore Mrs M’s cutting board to pristine condition. This year, I got 2 other boards from the family. The pictures below show the results, which, quite frankly, are easily attained. Here’s what I do:
- Clean the board to get as much oil & such off of it. That will make the sanding easier.
- Remove the non-skid rubber feet so you don’t have to sand around them.
- If the board has any cracks (as one of these boards did), then those have to be cut apart and re-glued before sanding begins. Cracks are not good on a cutting board; they will harbor bits of food and bacteria.
- Use a random orbital sander to sand each board through 5 grits (just as I do with new boards): 80, 120, 180, 220, 320. The oily, damaged wood that you’re removing will clog up the sanding disk rather quickly but that’s OK: you only need about 1 minute per grit per board.
- Saturate the smooth board with mineral oil. I typically apply about 3 or 4 coats; one every couple of hours. I always let it soak overnight, and then apply one more coat of mineral oil in the morning.
- After the oil has soaked in, apply a top coat of board butter, and then remove the excess.
- You’re done … in about 24 hours, start to finish.
Here’s a photo gallery that shows all of the boards, the damage that they came to the shop with, and the result of my restoration. Click on the photos to open them and read the photo captions, if you’re unable to see them automatically on your screen.
This is Velda’s board, which is now 4 years old. It was among the first cutting boards that I made.
It gets daily, furious use. I restore it once each year.
Daily, furious use.
The stain comes out easily with cleaning.
Daily use wreaks havoc on this board. At least she stopped using the electric knife on it….
5 disks to sand it smooth.
Sanded smooth. It really did take about 5 minutes.
Ready for oiling.
The surface is once again perfect. Smooth as glass.
This is MrsMowry’s board, which is also 4 years old. I believe this is the second time that I’ve restored this one, though.
Definite knife damage after 4 years.
The back shows the exotic wood colors with less UV exposure.
This board still has old-style rubber-only feet held on with regular phillips head screws. Corrosion was there … which is wny I now use different screws and feet.
How old is this board? It has an actual brand put on with my electric branding iron.
After oiling, the colors of these exotics really pop. Glass smooth, once again.
All knife damage removed, even after 4 years of use.
This is an heirloom board from Eric’s mother. It’s about 30 years old, and has never been restored.
There’s noticable knife damage, of course. That will be removed almost entirely.
There were a coupld of divets in the board, too deep to remove.
The edges of the board were cracked & the boards had a growing separation through the juice groove.
For some reason, the bread hook for this large board was made of red oak, but the work surface was maple. No clue why a different species was used … probably just what the craftsman had.
The worst crack. This corner had also been dropped & the wood had split for about 4″. I had to glue that up as best I could.
Pieces were carefully numbered before I cut the board apart. Each board was then sanded smooth prior to regluing.
Sanded, oiled & waxed. 30 years of use is still visible, but the board is now ready for another 30 years of work.
The bread hook was replaced with a maple board, but there was no way for me to match the 30-year old patina on the original maple boards.
Instead of attaching the bread hook with wood screws, I used dowel joinery … black walnut dowels and glue are all that hold the bread hook onto the board.
Cutting Boards: Restoration