How to Refinish Cutting Boards

A wooden cutting board in your kitchen is not only useful but used often. Over time, it can get scared, scratched and stained. Deep cuts and even lighter scratches can harbor dirt and bacteria, no matter how well you clean the wooden cutting board. If this describes your wooden cutting board, it may be time to refinish it and make it look like new!

Things You'll Need

  • Sandpaper, both for dry and wet sanding
  • Wood plane-optional
  • Mineral oil, food grade that can be found in grocery stores or pharmacies
  • Clean cloths
  • Bees wax
  • Protective breathing mask-optional

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Clean thoroughly, front, back and sides of the wooden cutting board with soapy water and rinse with warm water. Make sure the cutting board is completely dry before starting the next step.

Use first the dry sandpaper and begin sanding the wooden cutting board. Make sure you are sanding with the grain of the wood, and sanding with long strokes, otherwise you may end up with an uneven surface. Continue with the dry sandpaper until the deepest cuts in the board are just about gone. Then switch to the wet sandpaper for a smoother finish on the surface. An optional method, for very deep cuts, is begin with lightly planing the cutting board surface with a wood plane, followed by sanding. This is not a necessary step, and should only be undertaken if you have experience with wood planes. When you have sanded the cuts, scratches and stains from the cutting board to your satisfaction, rinse the board thoroughly to remove any wood dust from it, then let it dry. If wood dust is left on the board, it may dull knives used on the board later.

Wipe the mineral oil on the surface of the wooden cutting board with a clean cloth, going with the grain of the wood. You may wish to slightly heat the oil before applying it on the board. Watch the mineral oil soak into the board. When it has soaked in and allowed to harden a bit (about an hour or two between each application), apply more mineral oil. Repeat this four to six times until there appears to be an excess of oil on the surface. Then wipe off any excess oil. Allow the oil to completely harden, which takes around six hours, before beginning the next step.

Wipe bees wax with a soft clean cloth on the cutting board surface. Bees wax has the consistency of shoe polish and will seal the surface and make it more water resistant. Bees wax helps to keep moisture, bacteria and other contaminants from getting into the wood surface. Any excess bees wax can be buffed off with the cloth. Once the wooden cutting board has time to completely dry, it can be further buffed to a shine and look like new.

Tips & Warnings

  • After refinishing your wooden cutting board, it is advised that you apply a coat of mineral oil once a month, or as needed.
  • Never use a wooden cutting board to cut any type of meat because, no matter how well the board is cleaned, harmful bacteria can remain in the wood. Never clean a wooden cutting board by putting it in the dishwasher. It will dry it out too much and may cause cracking. Always hand clean a wooden cutting board using warm sudsy water and clean rinse water.
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