How To Refinish a Butcher Block

How To Refinish a Butcher Block

Amber Byfield
Feb 16, 2010

Last week, Trent showed us how to care for wood countertops. Here's another tried-and-true way to maintain your butcher block, which was passed along to my dad (who built my butcher block island) by a craftsman from Michigan. The all-natural foodsafe finish helps to bring out the natural grain of the wood and protect it at the same time.

What You Need

Mineral oil (found in the pharmacy section at most grocery stores)
Paraffin wax (Gulf Wax is a very common household brand, found at well-stocked grocers, canning suppliers, or home hardware stores)

Equipment [OR] Tools
Soft towel or foam paintbrush
Small saucepan
Sandpaper (fine grain) if needed


1. Determine whether you want to sand your surface area or not. Our butcher block just needed a pick-me-up, so we decided not to sand. If yours looks a little rough, you may sand it down with fine-grain sand paper to obtain a more even surface. If it has been finished in the past, you may be sanding off a layer of wax and finish; that's fine.

2. Mix your ingredients. You will need 1 part paraffin wax to 9 parts mineral oil. In a small saucepan, add the wax and oil. (We used 1 ounce of wax and 9 ounces/18 tablespoons of mineral oil; it was double the amount we needed for our four-foot wide butcher block island.) For smaller areas, use about 1/2 ounce of wax and 4 1/2 ounces of oil.

3. Heat the ingredients on medium-low heat until the wax melts (this will only take a couple of minutes).

4. Clean the surface of the block with a damp, soft towel.

5. Using the foam brush (or a soft towel), paint on the oil and wax mixture, trying to keep the coating very even.

6. Allow the finish to dry overnight. Voila! Refinished butcher block. Now it will really shine! (Can you see the sheen in that last photo?)

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(Images: Amber Byfield for Re-Nest)

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