Hi everyone! This is the sixth installment in this series of posts focusing on how to take care of your vintage and antiques. The first five covered Old Bottles, Dirty Novelty Candles, Rusty Metal, Scorched Linens, and Dry Wood. Today we’ll be taking a look at how to treat wooden cutting boards (and other wooden kitchen items, for that matter). We’ll look at cleaning, sanding, and seasoning.
The last time I mentioned [in a vintage finds post] that I had purchased an old cutting board, several readers expressed interest in knowing how I clean my boards. I’ve learned that a good scrubbing with lemon juice and salt can take care a lot of the dirt and grime that build up on old boards.
You can see some discoloration and dirt on this board that I discovered in the garage at an estate sale. Typically, I don’t buy garage sale cutting boards for personal use. I have a couple of boards that I bought new years ago that continue to serve me well. I buy them to sell or decorate with, so I can’t guarantee that lemon juice and salt will eliminate every last germ, but I think they do a pretty good job. [You can see this board in the first photo above after cleaning and seasoning.]
Sometimes old boards are so deeply knife-scarred, even mangled in spots, that only a light sanding offers hope for restoration.
I use this small palm sander for tasks like that.
Even just a little sanding produces quite a bit of sawdust.
But the results are pretty dramatic. You could sand further, but light cutting marks such as these don’t bother me. Clean with lemon juice/salt and season (see instructions below), and the board is ready for chopping onions or placing on display.
I bought this mahogany board at a garage sale for the sole purpose of learning whether sanding could remove the burn and knife marks.
Sanding did a fairly decent job of removing both the burn mark and knife marks.
After cleaning and/or sanding your boards, you will want to season them. These means applying mineral oil to the surface and allowing it to soak into the board. Seasoning prevents your board from becoming dry and brittle. When that happens, you increase the chances of your board cracking or even splitting. You can tell if a board needs oiling by sprinkling a few drops of water on its surface. If the board absorbs it, it’s dry and in need of seasoning. If it pools on the surface (repels the water), you’re in good shape.
You can pick up mineral oil at any drug or grocery store, and it is food safe–perfect for use on kitchen wares.
Pour a small puddle of oil onto your board and spread it evenly from corner to corner and down along the sides. Leave it for an hour or two (or overnight). If in that time, the oil has been entirely absorbed, apply another layer. Continue this process until the board no longer absorbs the oil. Wipe off any excess and then flip it over and treat the other side. The typical cutting board may require seasoning 2 or 3 times per year.
The newer board in the front is the one you saw me seasoning above.
I seasoned this larger, vintage board at the same time. I purchased it earlier in the year in pretty poor condition, but the seasoning has given it new life.
I decided while I had the oil out to go ahead and season this vintage rolling pin as well.
Think of seasoning as a facelift for your cutting boards–
It brings out the color and grain of the wood, leaving it with a healthy glow.
May all of your cutting boards be clean, smooth, and well-seasoned!
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Thanks for the feature, Sarah!
Bye for now,
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