How to Restore a Butcher Block Table

Written by g.k. bayne
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A butcher block table is a beautiful addition to any kitchen, from rustic to modern. Restoring a used or damaged table to its former beauty is not a difficult task, but it does take time and attention to detail. Once the job is done, you will have a butcher block table that will rival any on the market in beauty and in function. Because of the work involved in restoring one of these tables, they can often be found used at thrift shops and flea markets.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Electric hand sander
  • 120, 240 and 300 grit sandpaper
  • Clean, lint-free rags
  • White spirit
  • Bowl or bucket
  • Mineral or Tung oil

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Load the electric hand sander with 120 grit sandpaper.

  2. 2

    Sand the surface of the tabletop and all areas where the sander will fit. This will remove any existing finish and smooth out any dings or scratches in the wood. The goal is to sand the table back to a bare wood state.

  3. 3

    Fold a sheet of 120 grit sandpaper in half and hand sand down any areas that the electric sander missed or could not reach. Again, sand the area down to bare wood.

  4. 4

    Dampen a lint-free rag in white spirit and wipe down all surfaces of the table. This will remove any dust left behind by the sanding.

  5. 5

    Repeat the sanding process, first using the 240 grit sandpaper and then again with the 300 grit, always wiping with white spirit in between sanding.

  6. 6

    Mix equal amounts of mineral or Tung oil and white spirit in a bowl or bucket. The white spirit will help to thin the oil for easier application.

  7. 7

    Work with the grain of the butcher block and apply the oil mixture to the table in smooth, even strokes using a soft, clean cloth.

  8. 8

    Allow the oil mixture to soak into the wood and dry. Apply a second coat, again allowing the mixture to dry. Continue to apply coats of the oil mixture until the table will no longer absorb the oil.

  9. 9

    Wipe up any excess oil remaining on the table at the end of the finishing process. Allow the table to fully dry, for 12 to 24 hours, before using.

Tips and warnings

  • The white spirit will evaporate as the table dries. Both mineral oil and Tung oil are considered food safe by the FDA after drying.
  • If you do not have access to an electric hand sander, you can use a palm sanding block or sandpaper wrapped around a block of wood, but this will be more time consuming and less likely to give the even, smooth surface desired.

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