Butcher Block Table - What Type of Finish for the Top?

LaurieJanuary 27, 2013

We recently sanded the top of our butcher block table. Then, rubbed in several coats of Old English Lemon Oil. The oil soaked in fast and soon the table top was very dry. There are several blotchy areas where drink glasses, etc. leave marks (even though we wipe up the moisture quickly).

Is there a specific type of durable finish that you can suggest we try to apply to the top?

We would prefer something not too shiny (more of a matte finish).

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Oil finishes, even drying oils like tung and linseed, offer little protection against moisture. Old English Lemon Oil is mostly mineral oil that is non-drying, but soaks into the wood. What you want is a film-forming finish. Waterlox satin would be an excellent choice. It's often used on high-end kitchen wood countertops.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 7:20PM
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bobsmyuncle - Thank you for your response. Is this the Waterlox Satin Finish product you are suggesting (see link below)?

On their web site under product details, one of the things they list is:
"Penetrates and waterproofs when used as a finishing system in conjunction with Waterlox Original Sealer/Finish".

Would I need to use their Sealer/Finish first (prior to using the Satin finish)?

Here is a link that might be useful: Waterlox Original Satin Finish

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 7:54PM
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Yes, that's it.

You do not need the Original Sealer/Finish (in my opinion).

The first coat of any finish is a sealer. Only in special circumstances such as oily tropical woods or wood contamination (e.g., Silicone or other oils), do you need a special sealer. Professionals use sealers, but for different reasons (usually time-related)




If I'm brushing on varnish, I usually thin the first couple of coats 50-50 and use that as my "self sealer." If you're wiping on, it's already thinned into that neighborhood.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 7:19PM
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bobsmyuncle - Thank you, again, for your response!
I appreciate all the detail info you have given and the links, too. I opened the first one and was amazed at the great info about applying varnish. There are a lot of helpful suggestions on that site. I'll be sure to read those other 2 links as well.

When finished with this project (hopefully, in a few weeks), I will do a follow-up post showing the results.

Thanks you!

    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 11:58PM
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Prior to finishing, I'd recommend you do another light sanding, then wash with mineral spirits to try to remove the bit of mineral oils that might remain.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 1:04PM
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OK, before finishing, I will make sure to lightly sand then wash with mineral spirits ... which I assume is the same (or similar) as paint thinner.
Thanks : )

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 3:11PM
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