Kitchen Problem


DeanJackson

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A friend of mine had a contractor install wooden countertops in his

new kitchen. He had two scrap pieces, and those became cutting

blocks. One of the cutting blocks got wet and split, and then he

asked me - the rank amateur woodworker - what kind of finish he should

have/should put on the counters to prevent disaster.

Near as I can tell, the contractor put a oil/wax butcher block blend

on the counters; it's not completely sealed, and one end of the counter

is on the stove; the other is on the sink, and that really had me concerned.

I'm thinking of natural-colored Watco and some sandpaper to help as

much as I can, but not sure what will work here. Thinned poly? Epoxy?

Mineral spirits to strip out the wax? Watco and a prayer, and Watco

every two years?

My current bet is to put the same finish from the counters onto one of the

scrap pieces, then try Watco and see what happens. Thoughts?

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Do you know if the countertops are being used as a cutting surface? If not, you can protect the wood like any other table top. Varnishes and epoxies will certainly work and be very durable. But these aren't the kind of surfaces you want to cut on. So it really depends on the usage. If its a cutting surface, I think the oil and wax is a good choice.

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Do you know if the countertops are being used as a cutting surface? If not, you can protect the wood like any other table top. Varnishes and epoxies will certainly work and be very durable. But these aren't the kind of surfaces you want to cut on. So it really depends on the usage. If its a cutting surface, I think the oil and wax is a good choice.

Not going to cut on it, I don't think, but it's going to get wet. I'm just worried that something like Watco won't stick now that it's already been lightly treated with oil and wax.

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Just my $.02, but I did 8/4 walnut tops on my island with a built-in bar top. I originally planned to use them as butcher block, but learned about common walnut allergies, so I chose to seal them. I used Behlen's Rock Hard Table Top varnish. I wiped it on (many coats) to prevent that "plastic" look, and its working great. If I need to cut something, I break out the cutting boards. Note that I don't have a sink or water source next to this wood.

Behlen's might be worth a look. Many other's have recommended Waterlox as well.

Good luck,

Josh

P.S. Great site Marc!

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When people generically refer to "watco", I find that they are usually just talking about their Danish Oil. I think that's what Dean is talking about.

OK so the oil/wax mixture could very well be an issue, especially if its relatively new. You might consider hitting it with a little mineral spirits and an abrasive pad. Try to get some of that wax off the surface. After it dries, give it a light sanding and see what you have. If the oil is still fresh in the wood, you'll have clumps when you sand. Since mineral oil doesn't really dry, its always a tough call deciding what to do for a surface like this. If you are really looking to build a protective film, it might be worthwhile to use a coat or two of dewaxed shellac to try to seal off the oil. Then topcoat with whatever you like. But if you don't do that, and you still have some oil in the wood, oil-based finishes might have trouble curing. So the shellac will help with that. And once the shellac is on there, the surface will be sealed (at least mostly), and a Danish oil might not be a good choice due to the oil content. If the oil can't absorb, it won't cure properly. So a pure varnish might be a better choice, and you'll get more protection to boot. That's where jsf252's recommendations would be good (RockHard is a great choice).

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The Danish Oil - varnish/oil/thinner blend - seems to outsell everything else they make about 100:1; I've never heard of anyone using anything they make besides the danish oil. :-)

When people generically refer to "watco", I find that they are usually just talking about their Danish Oil. I think that's what Dean is talking about.

OK so the oil/wax mixture could very well be an issue, especially if its relatively new. You might consider hitting it with a little mineral spirits and an abrasive pad. Try to get some of that wax off the surface. After it dries, give it a light sanding and see what you have. If the oil is still fresh in the wood, you'll have clumps when you sand. Since mineral oil doesn't really dry, its always a tough call deciding what to do for a surface like this. If you are really looking to build a protective film, it might be worthwhile to use a coat or two of dewaxed shellac to try to seal off the oil. Then topcoat with whatever you like. But if you don't do that, and you still have some oil in the wood, oil-based finishes might have trouble curing. So the shellac will help with that. And once the shellac is on there, the surface will be sealed (at least mostly), and a Danish oil might not be a good choice due to the oil content. If the oil can't absorb, it won't cure properly. So a pure varnish might be a better choice, and you'll get more protection to boot. That's where jsf252's recommendations would be good (RockHard is a great choice).

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Looks like the guy used maybe half a pint of the oil/wax/thinner mixture, so there's nothing to wipe off; it's not a gloss finish, it still feels like rough wood, I can just see the color has darkened slightly from the untreated side of the countertop.

The plan, I think, is to take the piece of scrap countertop that was left, treat it just about the same way with some of the finish that's left there, let that dry for a few days, and then try either Behlen's Rock Hard or Watco's natural danish oil.

For the Behlen's, it sounds like a coat or two thinned 50/50 with their solvent, then a coat or two of nearly full strength, then a week or so to dry, then rub it out with pumice, maybe. The watco would be a few coats wetsanded in.

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Looks like the guy used maybe half a pint of the oil/wax/thinner mixture, so there's nothing to wipe off; it's not a gloss finish, it still feels like rough wood, I can just see the color has darkened slightly from the untreated side of the countertop.

The plan, I think, is to take the piece of scrap countertop that was left, treat it just about the same way with some of the finish that's left there, let that dry for a few days, and then try either Behlen's Rock Hard or Watco's natural danish oil.

For the Behlen's, it sounds like a coat or two thinned 50/50 with their solvent, then a coat or two of nearly full strength, then a week or so to dry, then rub it out with pumice, maybe. The watco would be a few coats wetsanded in.

Dean,

Your method will probably work fine to seal the wood. I used the Behlen's on my bar top and work surface. I tried the brush-on method, but found that the behlen's builds pretty quickly and gave a high gloss finish that resembled a pour-on epoxy coating (thick clear coating). This was using the method you describe. After talking with some other guys around the web I, learned that you can thin the varnish and wipe it on to get better results. If you thin the varnish 50/50 you can wipe a thin coat on every 30 minutes (3 applications per day) for the equivalent of one brush-on coat. I would recommend two of these three-coat sets to seal the wood. It looks noticeably different when wiped, and I would recommend it for counter tops. I'm very happy with the results, more importantly the wife is...

Good luck,

Josh

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