Despite my craving for a Boos block I've been a lifetime buyer of IKEA butcher blocks (so far), which need even more love and care to keep them from looking really dry, dirty and grey after a few years. The first big trick with butcher blocks is to oil them immediately to seal and protect the wood, but often nothing happens after that. I recently took a palm sander to our home butcher block and wanted to share how easy it was to resurface and make look like new. The two big payoffs of this little project are getting rid of errant pen marks and grey water spots and then watching your shiny, new golden surface make water bead up when you happen to spill something.
What You Need
• Palm Sander (I bought a little Bosch which was really nice for $50 — a great investment)
• Sandpaper in rough, medium and fine
• Butcher block beeswax oil
1. After cleaning off the table, use the rough paper in the palm sander to take down the top and top sides in two passes. Give extra attention to stains and pen marks! The sander will take these right out. Very satisfying.
2. Switch in a medium paper and do two more passes.
3. Switch to fine paper and do one more pass. Again, you're sanding the top and the sides of the top, which also need TLC.
4. Liberally rub entire top with Bees Oil, which is a nice pasty mix of beeswax and mineral oil. Let sit for 15 minutes and then rub away excess. Repeat the waxing each day for a few days (2-3) so that you get a maximum penetration initially and then add more as often as necessary. The oil/wax finish will really protect and nourish your the wood. Water will bead up and food and other things won't stain the wood as long as it's well protected.
Having done this once, you should be able to give your table or block a quicker sanding every six months or so. In between times just keep waxing! The beeswax not only protects the wood, it smells really nice and it is a great moisturizer for your hands.
Images: Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan