I am a first time poster but, I have been reading the posts for the
last couple of weeks. Several of you are very knowledgable about
woodworking and enjoy making sawdust as well as myself.
I am finishing an island cabinet that I built out of red oak and I
ordered a butcher block top made out of red oak. I used polyurethane
on the cabinet but, I want something on the top that is a little more
durable, will urethane provide a little more durability to the abuse
that an island top will have to take? Also, should I expect movement
with the top and make slots for the screws attaching the top to the
cabinet to allow for any movement?
On 6 Jan 2004 06:35:08 -0800, firstname.lastname@example.org (Woodster) wrote:
if this is going to be used as a cutting board you should do something
to seal the open pores of the red oak as a first step, and the finish
shoule be easily renewed and food safe. oak isn't a great choice for
cutting boards for this reason.
if it isn't going to be a cutting board, urethane should be fine.
Red oak isn't a good choice for a butcher block since the pores are open.
Food juices and water will seep down into the wood and eventually lead to a
funky smell. Hard maple is the traditional choice. No film finishes will
hold up under direct assults from a knife for very long however. Oil
finishes are prefered (they must be food safe!). Mineral oil or walnut oil
are usually used.
If you are planning on it just being decorative and not used, then red oak
is fine finished with urethane.
You will have to allow for seasonal movement for sure!
I agree 100% Frank;
I just want to add not as much movement will be expected if the top is made
from 1/4 sawn boards, well in other words flat sawn boards turned up on
I agree with the others, Poly would be fine, but I would not use it for a
Thanks for all the input on the top. I should of clarified that the
top will not be used for cutting on. I thought about using only a
food safe oil but, then I risk illness if the top isn't cleaned
throughly. So, the top will be used only for decoration. But, it
will get water spilled and food on it that is why I asked about
urethane. The wood shop that is making the top will sand it but, I
will have to finish sand it and stain to match the cabinet. Thanks
again for all of your help. Mitch
I bought a commercially made butcher block table, and when I refinished it a
few years back, I found a product called Behlen Salad Bowl Finish, certified
as food safe. I always put a plastic cutting board on the table for chopping
food, but very often, the chopped food ends up being dumped onto the table
while more gets chopped. Nothing has managed to stain this finish after
several years. As others have mentioned, NO finish will protect against the
mechanical savagery of knives, meat cleavers, etc.
Go to www.garrettwade.com, and search for the word "Behlen". It's twelve
bucks a pint, or twenty for a quart. Went on easily, turned out nice.
Greetings and Salutations.
On Tue, 06 Jan 2004 17:53:13 GMT, "Doug Kanter"
This is true. That is why real butcher's blocks are made so
thick. Every so often a guy with a plane comes in and skims off the
top 1/8" or so, leaving a nice, smooth surface again. One can do
that a fair number of times before the block is gone when it is a foot
or more thick.
As for food safety....once again, I want to remind us all
that wood is SAFER than plastic...
Yea, I have a quart of the stuff and use it on turnings.
It IS a pretty nice finish.
Interesting article, but it assumes you're getting a cutting board made out
of a certain kind of wood. Some are marked, but there's an awful lot of crap
coming here from China.
Anything I wash by hand is done in water so hot that it'll send you to the
hospital. Obviously, I wear thick gloves. Any time I handle raw meat or fish
on the plastic board, it's scrubbed with a brush and Comet powder. Plenty of
chlorine. That's followed up 2-3 times, until I don't smell chlorine on the
surface any more.
It's anal, but I've had food poisoning - the kind where you get your stomach
pumped. Never again. :-)
Greetings and Salutations.
On Tue, 06 Jan 2004 21:59:37 GMT, "Doug Kanter"
And, even more interestingly, it appears that the original
study link NOW claims that plastic is safer. I wish I could feel
that this was academic research and not the results of political
In any case, they make the very good point that all cutting
boards are "safe enough" if washed well with very hot water.
Yea...there is nothing fun about botulism. As my father, the
microbiologist, used to say: "there are three stages... #1-You are
afraid you are going to die. #2-You are afraid you AREN'T going to
die. #3-You get better.".
The fact of the matter is that a small amount of common sense
can keep the food prep surfaces safe enough. As you say...wash well,
with hot water (A strong bleach solution is as good or better than
scrubbing powder, as the cleanser CAN leave more scratches...)
You know theres such a thing as being too clean? I have a 2'x3'x1.5"
board and I'll be damned if I'm going to hoist that sucker into the sink.
It's been sealed with a bees wax and mineral oil concoction, gets wiped
down with a dish rag with dish soap then a rinse wipe. When it starts
looking dry it gets another sealer treatment. It's called maintenance.
Honestly, I think all the "safe handling" publicity is overkill, and it's
not aimed at sensible people who got a B grade or higher in biology. It's
aimed at the dummies who work with raw chicken right next to a drainer full
of clean dishes, splattering the drinking glasses with chicken juice and
leaving a pink puddle on the counter which they do nothing with afterward.
Or, maybe they wipe it up with the dishcloth and leave the cloth in a lump
on the counter, where a 4 yr old kid finds it and wipes her nose with it.
Those people are out there by the millions, and they're allowed to
reproduce, drive cars and vote.
From what I've read, if you put dish soap on a sponge, wipe down the counter
and see bubbles, you've used enough detergent to change the pH sufficiently
to kill germs. And, I think it was Consumer Reports that advised that Ivory
bar soap was harsh enough that unless you're working in the health care
field, you didn't need to waste your money buying germicidal hand soap.
What about a stainless steel butcher block covered, with a bank of UV lights
mounted above it? Let's get anal retentive! :-)
And I've heard the germicidal hand soap is actually unhealthy,
especially for youngsters, because it reduces exposure to low level
germs that tune up the immune system.
It seems people have lost common sense when it comes to cleaning. For
some reason they think something has to be sanitary to be safe. It seems
to be becoming a national obsession.
Listen to this: A woman I was seeing couldn't bring herself to move dirty
dishes to the dishwasher more than once a week. But, she used to rinse the
INSIDES of things like tomatoes, strawberries, cucumbers, melons, etc.,
after slicing them. Made for some very soupy food sometimes, and very moist
Already have an autoclave. I run the silverware through it after it's come
out of the dishwasher. Then, I seal each utensil with one of those
heat-sealing things for packaging frozen food. You have to put a little cube
of styrofoam on the tines of the forks first, but it only takes a few hours
Depends on what you mean by "germicidal". Hand soap is usually OK.
It's a gross over-application of a very simple biocide.
The risky aspect is when treatments like Microban become ubiquitous,
especially in places where they're entirely inappropriate like shower
cubicles and cat litter trays.
Chlorine is dirt cheap. I bought a plastic spray bottle and make up a
solution of chlorine and water.
I use different cutting boards for chichen, fish, raw meat, cooked meat,
vegetables, and give them a good soaking when I have finished chopping. As I
am the ONLY one who knows which board is for which I am the only one who can
do the food preparation.
I am very proud of my culinary knife collection and this cutting board
arrangement also ensures I am the ONLY one to use my knives. <g>
While it may be nice to know that you're the only one that will ever be
cooking a meal in your home, you may consider woodburning on an edge of the
boards which board is for which type of food preparation.
My 2 cents
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