Butcher Block Finishes: Varnique Semi-Gloss vs. Natural Oil
If you intend to cut on your block, choose a 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. 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. Simply sand the stained area lightly then re-oil the board.
Choose a Varnique finish if you want a fine-furniture look and less maintenance
Varnique is a branded, varnish-like product developed by John Boos & Co. It provides a virtually maintenance-free semi-gloss finish that seals and protects wood. Varnique is the finish of choice among bakers in particular, since it provides a hard, smooth, non-stick surface on which to roll dough. 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. Although not impermeable, a surface finished with Varnique is more resistant to spotting and staining.