Refurbishing a Wooden Kitchen Cutting Board

I am cleaning through my draft posts here on WordPress, and discovered a post I wrote last March, yes, nearly a year ago, that I hadn’t gotten around to adding photos to, or finalizing for posting.  I think others may find it useful!

I found a couple sites online that would help me refurbish a wood cutting board I’ve had for around twenty some years, with the last few years seeing me not remembering to take proper care of it.

The board was made by the father of my then-housemate, who exhibited some great skills in carpentry and home improvements.  It measures roughly 2 feet by 2.5 feet, and I do not recall what species of wood was used.  It is at least an inch thick.

Unfortunately, over time my pathetically-small and poorly-arranged kitchen exploded with cooking and food gear, and all but a little corner was covered with other stuff, and hence mostly unusable.  Recently, an onion even got lost on it and, well, returned partially to carbon – not a nice touch for sure.

cutting board refurbishing

The cutting board was in severe need of help. I also decided to do the wood tile holder seen here at the same time.

Since I am moving, I decided refurbishing it before I took it north was a good idea.  When I am there, the only things that will ever be on it are whatever I’m prepping up at the moment.  As with before, meats and seafoods will NOT be prepped on this board, but rather on plastic or bamboo.

At the same time, I am refurbishing a paper towel holder and two knife blocks.

Refurbishing a Wooden Cutting Board

Refurbishing steps as I followed them:

  1. Clean off board (of physical objects, and then wash down board with water and mild soap, both sides, and wash down counter underneath).  Stand on edge to dry, keeping the cat away!
  2. Sprinkle coarse salt over the board, especially on the worst areas.
  3. Squeeze lemon juice over on one side, reserve lemon slices.
  4. Let stand 10-20 minutes.
  5. Use squeezed lemon slices to help scrub down the board, focusing on the browner spots.

    Refurbishing cutting board

    Salt and lemon treatment

  6. Wash off with water.
  7. Allow to dry.

    refurbishing kitchen cutting board

    Dried. Doesn’t look all that different, yet.

  8. Sand with 50 or 60 grit sand paper.   The instructions I followed said “50”, but I could only find 60.  This works anyway, a good coarse grit.
  9. Wipe off with lint-free towel.

    Refurbishing kitchen cutting board

    Lint free towel is largely covering the sandpaper.

  10. Sand again with 100 grit sand paper.  Also do the edges; these did not seem to need the salt/lemon/60-grit paper.
  11. Wipe off with lint free towel.

    Refurbishing kitchen cutting board

    The next step is using a finer-grit sandpaper. We’re beginning to shape up.

  12. Flip board over and repeat steps 2 through 11.
  13. Wash board again with warm soapy water, both sides, and be sure your countertop is cleaned (of the sawdust and such) too.  Follow with plain warm water, making sure the soap is gone.  If possible, let the board air dry on its edge, and allow it to dry THOROUGHLY before applying the mineral oil/beeswax material described in the next step.
  14. Combine 4 ounces food grade mineral oil with 2 ounces  food grade beeswax (in other words, 2 parts mineral oil to one part beeswax) in a heat-resistant container,  You can find both ingredients on Amazon.  I chose to use beeswax pellets.   I used a glass canning jar.  Set it in a sauce pan containing water, and place this on your range.  Heat on low to medium low, watching, until the beeswax melts and combines with the mineral oil, which will be at well below the water’s boiling point.  Use whatever implement to mix thoroughly.

    Refurbishing kitchen cutting board

    Beeswax melted into mineral oil

  15. Remove from heat, and allow the mixture to cool.   It will be a soft oily paste.

    Refurbishing kitchen cutting board

    The mineral oil / beeswax combo is like a thick mayo… or maybe like a thick skin lotion.

  16. Rub over the cutting board, including the edges.  Use a lint free cloth to help the mixture coat the board evenly, and buff off excess.  I’d wait until the next day (after the rest of the mixture is absorbed into the wood) to flip the board and do the other side.

    kitchen cutting board refurbishing

    Quite the sheen!

Refurbishing kitchen cutting board

Done. A vast improvement, and over the next week or so the remaining knife cuts became less obvious as the mineral oil and beeswax worked their way through the grain.

Extra notes:  For general use, wash down after each use – warm soapy water followed by water.  (I was doing this in the exposed and used areas already.)  Once every few months or two, treat again one time with food-grade mineral oil.  Beeswax optional.  Four times a year, flip the board.   You have seen this board in a lot of my recent posts here.

Various posts explaining this process:

Comments:  I think the salt and lemon treatment will work better if the ingrained problems with my board had been addressed sooner.  Sanding was very useful.   Sanding also helps deal with cuts on your board from knives.  The board becomes nicely smooth to the touch.  It is worth keeping up and after one’s cutting board more frequently than I had!!!

Oh, the paper towel holder — it improved with this procedure, as well.  I’d been considering throwing it out prior to my move, but decided it looked good enough to keep.

Shared at Fiesta Friday:  Right here!

Farmhouse Friday:  Right here!

And at the Homestead Blog Hop linkup:  Right here!

Homestead Blog Hop


About goatsandgreens

The foodie me: Low/no gluten, low sugars, lots of ethnic variety of foods. Seafood, offal, veggies. Farmers' markets. Cooking from scratch, and largely local. The "future" me: I've now moved to my new home in rural western Massachusetts. I am raising chickens (for meat and for eggs) and planning for guinea fowl, Shetland sheep, and probably goats and/or alpaca. Possibly feeder pigs. Raising veggies and going solar.
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12 Responses to Refurbishing a Wooden Kitchen Cutting Board

  1. Thanks for digging this out and posting, very informative and useful.

  2. A great post – only last week my husband sanded all of our boards but if only he’d known all of your extra tips!

  3. Great post and tips. My entire kitchen island is made of reclaimed wood and I am constantly looking for ideas to keep it clean and maintained.

  4. Sandhya says:

    Very informative post! Love reclaimed wood.

    • Thanks! And this is something I will be repeating (in part, mainly the mineral oil, this next week. It can be helpful to make up a large mixture of both the beeswax and the mineral oil, and store it, say under the sink. It is unlikely to go bad.

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  8. Cindy says:

    Great tutorial! I love vintage cutting boards and the craftsmanship they represent. Thanks for sharing your tips!

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