Repairing Butcher Block

Repairing Butcher Block

As a natural product, butcher block may occasionally remind you of its wild roots by showing off a small crack, wind shake, or split. Your knowledge of repairing butcher block doesn’t need to be vast in order to take care of the most common issues.

In fact, repairing butcher block is pretty simple as long as you have the right information available. Lucky for you, we’ve got just what you need!

infographic. Splits and Cracks No Worries.

 

Not so bad, right? Repairing butcher block is often a much better alternative to replacing it, saving you time and money. And remember, we’re the experts in all things butcher block, so if you’ve got a problem, we’re here to help!

Butcher Block Finish: Natural Oil vs Varnique

Butcher Block Finish: Natural Oil vs Varnique

When ordering butcher block countertops you have the option to choose a Natural Oil Finish or a Varnique Semi-Gloss Finish. The most commonly asked question we get from consumers is “What is the difference between a natural oil and a Varnique finish?” This is a great question and an easy one to answer. All you have to do is think about how you intend to use your butcher block and how much maintenance you are willing to sign up for.

NATURAL OIL FINISH

Most butcher blocks come pre-treated with a food-safe, natural oil finish that moisturizes and protects the wood and makes it safe for food preparation, including cutting. All cutting boards and chopping blocks come with a natural oil finish. This finish must be renewed through the reapplication of butcher block oil or board cream about once a month. A stained or discolored natural-oil board can be restored fairly easily by simply sanding the stained area lightly then re-oiling the board.

A natural oil finish does require monthly maintenance.

  • Oil it every 3 to 4 weeks depending upon usage. When it looks dry or lighter in color it is time to oil.
  • Boos Block ® Mystery Oil and the Boos Block ® Board Cream are recommended to be used together.
  • First apply Mystery Oil. The oil and minerals penetrate through the wood surface to increase its longevity. Let dry.
  • Then wipe on Block Cream to seal the top coating of the wood to provide a thick surface protection.
  • Tip – use a plastic grocery bag instead of a cloth to spread the Mystery Oil over a large butcher block surface. This avoids oil absorbing into a cloth or getting on your hands.

VARNIQUE SEMI-GLOSS FINISH

Varnique is a branded, varnish-like product developed by John Boos & Co. Although Varnique provides a fine-furniture look and is perfect for general kitchen chores, it is not to be cut upon, since nicks in this hard-shell coating could leave unprotected the wood beneath. Varnique provides a virtually maintenance-free semi-gloss finish that seals and protects wood. It is the finish of choice among bakers in particular, since it provides a hard, smooth, non-stick surface on which to roll dough. Although not impermeable, a surface finished with Varnique is more resistant to spotting and staining.

Varnique finish is virtually maintenance-free. It is easily cleaned with mild soap and warm water, followed by a towel dry.

Which butcher block finish is best for you?  If you want to cut on your butcher block, you must choose a natural oil finish.

Oil vs Varnique white

Oil vs Varnique.xlsx

How Butcher Block Is Made

How Butcher Block Is Made

A few years ago, when I started working for ButcherBlockCo., I had the privilege of touring the John Boos & Co. butcher block manufacturing facility in Effingham, Illinois. Seeing the process of how butcher block is made from start to finish was enlightening.  It felt a lot like making furniture by hand in a workshop, but on a much larger scale.

The process seems to be a wonderful balance of technology and science with craftsmanship and artistry, all working together to make these beautiful pieces of butcher block furniture come to life.

Here is my summary of How Butcher Block Is Made:

Harvesting Wood
Before the wood ever arrives at the manufacturing plant, individual trees are selected for harvest, encouraging forests to renew and regenerate themselves naturally. At the lumber mill, trees are cut into lumber for purchase and distribution. John Boos only buys wood from suppliers who are members of the National Hardwood Lumber Association, guaranteeing they practice responsible reforestation.
Drying Wood
When lumber arrives at the John Boos facility it is staged in their lumber yard.  Lumber is sorted, piece by piece, to gauge its grade using a “grader’s stick” to approve each board for processing. After lumber is inspected and graded it “rests” in an outdoor staging area for a few weeks as part of the first steps in the drying process.  Step two of the drying process is to transfer the lumber to gigantic, wood-fired kilns where it is dried for 18 to 28 days. The enormous kilns used to dry the lumber are heated by a boiler, which is fueled by sawdust and wood scraps generated during the process of making butcher block. After nearly a month of drying in the kiln, the cured lumber enters the start of the production process.
Production Process
All the lumber coming into the manufacturing plant is first planed and sanded to get a very flat and smooth work surface. Then it is immediately run through a glue line rip saw cutting the wood into 1.75 inch rails. Each wood rail is inspected and marked for defects using fluorescent markers, which are read by a computer to eliminate defective sections. Final rails are then sorted by grade, separating the premium rails to be used for kitchen countertops and high quality butcher block surfaces from the lower grade rails to be used for industrial countertops.
To make blended-grain butcher blocks, rails of varying length are finger jointed together, then laminated and glued side by side, hiding all finger joints. To make edge-grain butcher blocks, rails of the same length are laminated and glued together side by side, forming what then looks like a solid piece of butcher block wood. End-grain butcher block is characterized by its checkerboard appearance. This block starts with laminated edge-grain boards, that are glued and stacked on top of each other, then placed in a gigantic vice called a screw press, squeezing the wood and glue together. After drying, the block is set on end and the “ends” of the rails become the butcher block cutting surface, hence the term “end-grain.”
Finishing
All butcher block, be it blended, edge or end-grain, is then sanded down with 200 grit to provide a silky smooth cutting surface. It is then made into Boos Blocks, cutting boards, butcher block table tops, standard and custom countertops, etc.  Finally, all butcher block is finished with a treatment of food-safe mineral oil or board cream before it is allowed to leave the plant. It is packaged with care and shipped to consumers, restaurants and retailers all across the US.
Having seen how butcher block is made makes me appreciate all of the effort that has gone into what appears to be a relatively simple piece of wood.  I know I take great pride in displaying and using my John Boos butcher block every day!
Caring for Your Butcher Block

Caring for Your Butcher Block

Although my family in the Midwest would beg to differ, according to the calendar, spring has sprung.  Given I like to stick to a schedule, it IS time to at least talk about spring cleaning tips. Maybe it will even help the weather get on board!

Whether you have a traditional end-grain butcher block, a butcher block countertop, or the more portable cutting board version, caring for your butcher block is critical. Because butcher block is used in food preparation, maintaining a clean and sanitized block will help to keep your family healthy.

Given the cost of butcher block can be significant, caring for your butcher block now will protect your investment for years to come.

EVERYDAY MAINTENANCE:

  • Scrape – Remove any remaining food particles with a scraper or spatula.
  • Wash – Wipe the surface clean with a washcloth dipped in hot water and mild soap (do not soak wood in water). Rinse washcloth and wipe again.
  • Dry – Using a paper towel or dish towel, dry surface thoroughly between uses. Store cutting boards on edge to dry completely and save counter space.

BEST PRACTICES:

  • Separate your food – To avoid cross-contamination, designate one cutting board to be used for fresh produce and a second board for raw meats.
  • Wipe up spills – Always wipe up liquid spills immediately to avoid penetrating board or leaving stains.
  • Remove odors – Sprinkle table salt on board, quarter a lemon and rub the lemon into the salt across the board, squeezing the juice out as you rub. Let stand for 2-3 minutes. Wipe clean with warm water.
  • Sanitize – As frequently as required, clean your butcher block using a 1:3 ratio of vinegar to water. Wipe clean and dry.
  • Oil – Once a month apply a food-safe mineral oil (never vegetable oil) like Boos Mystery Oil to penetrate and moisturize the wood. Then apply Boos Beeswax Board Cream to help seal in the moisture.

caring for butcher block with oil

caring for your butcher block with cream

Do you have any butcher block that has been neglected? All will be forgiven after a nice oily massage!

How to Remove Stains and Scratches from Butcher Block

How to Remove Stains and Scratches from Butcher Block

One of my favorite cutting boards is the John Boos Round Herb Cutting Board that came with a nifty mezzaluna rocker knife. Not only is this board superb for chopping herbs, I use it every day to hold an unruly fruit or vegetable. The concave bowl just seems perfect for hugging that last lemon, a spare onion, or a shiny apple just waiting to be eaten. Unfortunately, I did not notice my onion went bad one day and it left a really nasty stain on the board. I wiped it up, but it had penetrated pretty deeply. Then I procrastinated about 6 months before doing anything about it! Maybe this sounds familiar. But don’t fret; there is hope.
Unsightly stains and deep scratches can be removed from butcher block to help restore their appearance. Stains can result when liquid spills are allowed to dry on the block. If addressed soon after, they can be removed pretty easily by wiping with a damp, soapy sponge, drying with paper towel, then applying some Boos Bees Wax Board Cream.

Penetrating stains, older stains, and knife gouges in butcher block will require some “muscle” but they usually can be removed!

How to remove Stubborn Stains and Scratches:

Remove stains with salt

  1. The first step is to try and remove the stain by sprinkling kosher/table salt on the stained area and rubbing with a damp sponge for a few minutes. Always rub in the direction of the wood grain to avoid further scratch damage. If the stain is still present, continue to step 2; otherwise, wipe clean and move on to step 5 to finish up.
  2. Stubborn stains or deep scratches will require sanding. There is no set “grit” or coarseness of sandpaper to use.sand 300w You will want to experiment, starting with a finer grit and working to a coarser one, until you find the grit that works.I can’t say this enough – always rub in the direction of the wood grain (not against it). Trust me, you will be tempted to do so, but please don’t, or risk further scratching the board.Once you see the stain or scratch is being removed, stick with that sandpaper. Remember: the higher the number, the finer the grit.Given butcher block is a very hard wood, it makes sense that you will need to use a coarse grit in the range of 80 to 100Stains removed to correct the problem.
  3. I would start with 150 grit and if that does not work, move to the 100 grit or 80 grit.
  4. When the stain is removed, be sure to use a couple different grit papers to sand the area to a smooth finish again. Use the 150 grit first, then finish with a 220 grit paper to restore the smoothness.
  5. Wipe the butcher block with a damp, soapy wash cloth to remove sanding dust and dry thoroughly.
  6. You must treat the exposed surfaces with a food safe mineral oil to protect and moisturize the wood. The best cure is to apply Boos Mystery Oil to penetrate the cutting board and restore the moisture. Then follow with an application of  Boos Block Board Cream to put a protective seal on the block and reduce the chances of future spills  penetrating the wood.
  7. Remember, you should apply oil or cream to your butcher block once a month to keep your board healthy.
Given my Round Herb Board is Hard Rock Maple it took me a while to find the right grit to remove the stain. I was surprised that I had to go down to a 60 grit and sand for about 15 minutes. But it was worth it! Then I used the 100, 150 and finally 220 grit, respectively, which left it feeling silky smooth again.
My beloved Herb Board looks like new. Herb is happy too!
stains removed butcher block like new
Get Organized and Stay That Way!

Get Organized and Stay That Way!

Now that you’re used to the idea of it being 2014 (I’m just assuming you’re not still writing “2013” on everything like I am), it’s time to start making good on those resolutions!

Now is a great time to get your kitchen organized in a way that makes sense for your life.

While the aesthetic of an organized kitchen is highly desirable, don’t just focus on putting things away to make the space look nicer – the key to staying organized is to set up a system that is logical, one that will be easy to maintain and will help your kitchen be more functional. We’ve been keeping track of our top sellers and best storage solutions to help you get your kitchen in tip-top shape.
Our best-selling butcher block table of the year is the John Boos Classic Country Work Table. This customizable table ranges in sizes from 36”x24” up to 60”x36”, comes in a variety of colors, and offers optional drawers, baskets, and shelves to meet your needs. This is a beautiful solution to the everyday cook’s organizational dilemmas. No wonder it was our top seller!

classic-country-kitchen-island-white organized

So many options to cater to your tastes

If you love to bake as much as you love to cook, check out the Pro Chef Prep Station, which comes with a granite inset for rolling out dough. This unique work center comes with wire baskets for stowing produce or towels, a slatted shelf for your mixing bowls and canisters, and a side rack for spices and utensils. A stainless steel pan is placed under a cut-out in the butcher block surface to catch scraps, juices, and waste for easy clean-up. This versatile workstation also features a large utility drawer with built-in knife storage.

Organized Pro Chef Prep Station

Look at all that storage!

Are you always trying out new recipes and staying on the cutting edge of technology? Well, John Boos has created the perfect addition for your kitchen: the iBlock. Available in Maple, Walnut, and Cherry, this handy little guy doubles as a cutting board and tablet holder. The iBlock comes with protective sleeves so you don’t get your tablet messy while you whisk and watch cooking shows at the same time!

iblock-cutting-board-with-stand

Keep your tablet handy without worrying about the mess

If entertaining or wine-and-cheese nights are more your style, Catskill Craftsmen has created the ultimate kitchen helper for you – the Portable Wine Island. This lovely cart can store 15 bottles of the good stuff and has a stemware rack for glasses up to 8” tall. This hardwood island also features an enclosed cabinet with an adjustable shelf, ample storage in a utility drawer, and two towel bars. The best part may just be the locking casters, though. You can prep all your hors d’oeuvres in the kitchen then roll the whole cart out for service in the dining room or on the patio.

Organized Wine Island

Entertain with ease with the Portable Wine Island

Now that we’ve introduced you to some of our most popular and helpful products, it’s time to get into gear and get your kitchen ready for a new year full of cooking, baking, experimenting, and entertaining! What has been the best addition to your kitchen? Do you have plans to get organized for the new year?

Turkey Carving Tips from a Pro

Turkey Carving Tips from a Pro

chef jSo, you read last week’s blog and are all prepped to make a delicious Thanksgiving turkey, right? Now you just need to know how to get that bird from roasting pan to table! Chef J is back with some turkey carving tips to teach you how to do it the right way.

That lovely carving set you got as a wedding gift (you know, the one with the two-prong fork and thin knife), is pretty useless for turkey carving and will do more harm than good here. Sorry about that… You should have a very sharp carving or chef’s knife for this, along with a pair of tongs, and some good old fashioned fingers. Some vinyl food service gloves will help keep things clean and prevent your hands from getting too hot.

Turkey Carving:

  • Position your beautiful birdy on a carving board so that the ends of the drumsticks are pointing toward you, breast-side up.
  • Pull the leg up and out to expose the joint. Using the tip of your knife, cut through the joint and socket. Gently pull the drumstick away from the body while “following” with your knife; the leg should cleanly separate from the body with you doing minimal cutting. You know what a drumstick looks like! Now do that again on the other side. You can serve these whole to two lucky guests or slice them up to share the love. To carve the leg, simply hold the small end upright with the fat end on your board. Slice straight down through the meat and rotate, leaving behind the bone and connective tissue.
  • To get at the white meat, rotate the turkey, or your board, so that the wings and breasts are pointed toward you and the (now missing) legs are facing away. There is a ridge bone running down the center of the breast; start about half an inch to the side of center, slicing parallel to the ridge. Cut gently, letting the rib cage guide your knife as you slice all the way through toward your cutting board while pulling the meat away in one large piece. Repeat for the other side. You will have two breast pieces and a relatively clean rib cage (don’t worry if there is a bit of meat left behind). Now you can slice the breast meat against the grain into ¼ to ½ inch pieces.
  • Flip the turkey over, breast side down, and position it so that the leg-end is facing you. Pull the wings away from the body to expose the joint. Cut through the joint and socket just like you did with the leg.
  • Starting just below where the wing was, slice toward you, separating the thigh from the body. You will have a large piece, about half the size of the breast, with one bone running through the center. Place the thigh skin-side-down on your cutting board. Using the tip of your knife, cut parallel to the bone, separating it from the meat. You should be able to gently tear the bone out with your fingers without losing any meat. Flip it over so that it is skin-side up and cut against the grain (perpendicular to where the bone was) into ¼ to ½ inch slices.

You now have a fairly clean carcass. The remaining meat can be removed by hand, picking the good stuff out from in between the bones and hard to reach places. This makes great leftovers! To get all the goodness out of your turkey, use the carcass to make some delicious turkey stock.

Turkey carving doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

It seems we all have a turkey carving horror story – follow these steps and this year it won’t be about you!

Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to receive updates of new posts. Next week Chef J will be sharing some ideas for all that leftover turkey!

Cutting Boards: A Collection to Handle Any Occasion

Cutting Boards: A Collection to Handle Any Occasion

Okay, let’s talk cutting boards! Having a good collection of cutting boards is something I think is essential. There is a reason there are so many different styles available – each type accomplishes a different goal. Depending on your level/style of cooking and entertaining, here is a list of some of the most commonly used and needed cutting boards.

End-grain-round-cutting-board

The All-purpose Chopping Block:  A nice, hefty, End Grain countertop block is super handy,since it is ready when you need it, and will look beautiful in your kitchen.  Not only are these blocks incredibly durable, the End Grain style is easier on your knives than other cutting surfaces, so it just makes sense to do the bulk of your chopping on one. End Grain blocks are available in a variety of sizes/woods/prices, one of which is sure to fit into your kitchen. They are also incredibly beautiful, and make a great serving surface on a buffet.NSF-Approved-Cutting-Board

The Lightweight Reversible Board: Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to use your big chopping block, and you need a board you can pull out easily and that won’t take up much storage space.  Enter the reversible cutting board: a lightweight edge grain board that can be used on both sides, and easily cleaned and stowed away for next time. This is the board you are going to pull out when you just need to slice up an apple or chop some parsley or other highly pigmented food. The big chopping block is unnecessary for such a small job, and the cleanup on a smaller board is much simpler. While you don’t want to leave this board soaking, you do have the option to scrub it down well after you make all those nice green stains. Also, since this one isn’t going to be out on the counter all the time, who really cares if it has a green spot?Carving-board

The Carving Board: Carving boards come in a variety of sizes and styles, and the one you choose will depend on how you intend to use it and where you intend to keep it. If you are like me and only use a carving board twice a year, you can get away with a thin, relatively inexpensive, standard board with a juice groove, like this one. If you are a die-hard BBQ-er, you will benefit from a bit more heft in a board that can take a bit of a beating and is easily transported, like this board with handles and a juice groove. Now, if you’re really serious about this roasting and carving stuff, this cutting board with carving spikes and a groove tree is pretty much a no-brainer. The spikes hold the meat in place while you carve away, and the groove tree directs juices into a reservoir so you can easily whip up some gravy or au jus.  If you want something that is both functional and stunningly beautiful, check out these End Grain boards with stainless steel feet; they are sure to wow at your dinner table.server-boards

Serving Boards and Blocks: There are so many fun and unique serving boards available these days! From contemporary to whimsical, and everything in between, we’ve got you covered no matter the occasion! Whether you are hosting an elegant dinner party or a potluck lunch, wooden serving boards will bring warmth and function to your table.

With the holidays quickly approaching, now is a great time to add some interesting cutting boards to your collection. They make great gifts, too!

The Mini-Boos Block and cheese hatchet set is a perfect housewarming or hostess gift and looks fantastic on any table.Mini-Boos-Butcher-Block

What Exactly Is Butcher Block?

What Exactly Is Butcher Block?

Butcher Block is a specialized wood cutting surface, thick and rugged in design, built to sustain heavy blows from meat cleavers.  The name  “butcher’s block” was originally derived from its use by commercial meat cutters in butcher shops and meat processing plants over 125 years ago.  The first butcher blocks were made from Sycamore rounds, which were large sections of Sycamore tree trunks mounted on legs.  However, inherent in this round cut of wood was the problem of the wood splitting, creating unsanitary conditions.  This lead to the invention of the traditional end-grain butcher block, an assembled wood product made from strips of wood which are glued together to create a solid wedge.

traditional-butcher-block

Today, traditional butcher blocks can be found in millions of supermarkets, delis, restaurants and home kitchens around the world.

End-Grain-Butcher-Block

These end-grain boards are made by bonding together short pieces of wood standing side-by-side, creating the traditional “checkerboard” appearance. Their cut ends make an excellent surface for cutting and chopping.  The wood fibers that make up the cutting surface are less susceptible to nicks and gouges, and will absorb the impact of knives.

 

Edge-Grain-Butcher-BlockThese days, the term butcher block is commonly used to refer to edge-grain constructed blocks as well.  Edge-grain blocks are made from laminating wood rails side-by-side, with the edges of wood strips making up the surface of the butcher block.  Many butcher blocks for home use are edge-grain construction because they are perfectly suitable for home use and are more affordable.

 

Edge-grain butcher blocks typically are thinner, lighter and more portable, making them ideal for versatile tableshard-working carts, gorgeous countertops, and  functional cutting boards.

What is your favorite butcher block product?

butcher-block-products
Butcher Block Countertops – How to choose the right one for your kitchen.

Butcher Block Countertops – How to choose the right one for your kitchen.

Perhaps this summer you’re considering a kitchen remodel and upgrading your kitchen countertops or island top.  There are a number of different countertop materials to choose from, each with its own unique benefit. Butcher block countertops are timeless, having been around for generations and remaining extremely popular today.  Many people migrate to the natural wood grain of butcher block because it fits any kitchen décor style, be it traditional, contemporary, or eclectic.  Butcher block is often chosen for kitchen island tops because of its durability and versatility, doubling as both a chopping surface and serving table. Choosing  butcher block countertops can be daunting and involves a significant investment.  But here are some considerations to help make the process easy! 

Perfect butcher block countertops fit your kitchen décor, your space, and your budget. 

butcher-block-countertops-choose-a-wood-species

Think about how light/dark and cool/warm you want your kitchen to look.

  • Hard Rock Maple is very light in color and uniform in appearance.  It can help brighten a kitchen and make it feel light, airy and cool.
  • Red Oak is of medium tone, with a golden, red tint.  It falls in the middle of the wood species selection with regard to light/dark or warm/cool.
  • American Cherry has a warm, red tint and can add both color and warmth to a kitchen.
  • Black Walnut is naturally a chocolate brown color, and can help darken a kitchen or visually warm a kitchen with its rich tone.
You can match, or you can complement other wood grain in your kitchen.
  • Matching the color of an existing wood can be difficult since many woods darken with age.  But matching a species and a grain pattern is much easier.  If you have Maple cabinets now, you can consider Maple countertops as a nice match.
  • Often it is more interesting to mix and match woods.   Differences in textures and colors, in moderation, can work nicely together.  It is easy to complement woods, especially when they are separated, like a wood floor and wood countertop. Or kitchen cabinets and counter tops separated by a tile backsplash.  Just be mindful;  make it look well thought-out, not like an add-on.
butcher-block-countertops-choose-a-grain-style

Three grain-style choices for butcher block countertops: Blended Grain, Edge Grain and End Grain.

  • Blended Grain will give a wide variety of color and grain pattern.  Rails of varying lengths are finger-jointed together showing much visual texture.  Blended grain  can look “busy” so it is  awesome when paired with a simple kitchen design, regardless of your decorating style.  It is the most affordable grain style.
  • Edge Grain is the end result when full-length rails are bonded side by side giving the appearance of a solid tabletop.  There is some  color and grain variation, therefore it is well suited for matching with other woods or natural stone surfaces in your kitchen.  Edge grain is moderately priced.
  • End Grain countertops provide lots of color and texture variation within the checkerboard pattern.  It has a very upscale appearance and is pricier, but it is the traditional butcher block look that shouts professional gourmet chef!
Your final considerations are a bit easier and they include your DIMENSIONS and FINISHING TOUCHES.  Choose your butcher block countertops now!