Sunday, May 24, 2020

Refinishing Wooden Chopping Boards

My collection of olivewood chopping boards have been showing enough scars to detract from the beauty of the wood. I've been fond of olive wood chopping boards ever since I laid my fresh young eyes on them during my college stay in central Italy.  I did not have the money to buy any back then but have more then compensated.

decade of salami service
Board #2 out of 10 needing rehab

Having one too many boards, I used a random orbital sander because gotta save them hands for gaming!  Fortuitously for me, this sander was unceremoniously discarded by AI researchers trying to automate sanding with a robotic arm after the project was abandoned.  They used just wooden test boards but they really should have tested chopping boards which could have made some spousal cooks happy.

I had about 10 boards to power through and the knife grooves run deep so manual sanding would have been a day long affair. I could have gone to my husband's machine shop and use the belt sander but I wanted to learn how to do this entirely by myself at home.  I used 120 grit and finished off with 80 grit mainly because theys were the only sandpaper left behind by the researchers and they worked well enough.

120 grit, then 80
There is a conundrum on how far you sand down. You can be a perfectionist and erase the deepest cut but the board will get another deeper cut right away after the first week of use. The thickness of the board is a consumable.  I chose moderate refacing over perfection as these boards are about 10 to 20 years old and hopefully they can go another two decades.

Batch sanding in a cardboard box
I ruined my neighbor's quiet Sunday afternoon but for no more than an hour.  Still I stopped at 6 boards. I washed them in soapy water, and was waiting for them to dry. I normally apply mineral oil but I decided to notch things up and make a home made mineral oil beeswax mix which I explain in another post.  Covid times forcing me to learn a few new tricks.
I'm doing a 3 day application to seal these good enough for Covid times.

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