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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I don’t know if anyone will be able to identify what finish was used on a cutting board from the vague information that I have but I’m hoping someone will know what I’m talking about since I don’t.

Yesterday I went to an arts and crafts fair in New Hope, PA. I was surprised at the number of woodworkers that were exhibiting there. I was particularly interested in cutting boards. Four of the vendors were heavy into cutting boards. They all really do beautiful work. One booth really got my attention. All of his boards were end grain and I noticed that the wood seemed to be lighter in color than most other boards I’d seen. I picked up one board that was a simple checkerboard pattern of maple and walnut and was surprised at how the surface felt. Rather than a slight oily or waxy feel, it almost felt like some kind of film finish. I doubt that it was since that wouldn’t hold up very long under a knife edge. On the other hand, it had a bit of a gritty feel like you get if saw dust gets into a poly finish while its drying. Anyway I mentioned that I was surprised that it didn’t feel oily and the maker told me that he doesn’t like oil because it darkens the wood and doesn’t let the natural beauty of the wood show through. He said he uses a food safe gel finish. I said wax? He said no, a food safe gel. That was all he would say.

With that vague information, does anyone have any idea what this finish could be?
 

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EZ-DO Polyurethane Gel says that it is non-toxic and food safe. It's been discussed on forums for cutting boards... but with mixed opinions.

Yes the finish is not darkened. The MSDS is a little scary to read, when you consider that mineral spirits is a hazardous material, but classified as "exempt."

What does bother me is that one a cutting board, you want a finish that is not just at the outside edge /surface of the board. Eventually, especially with an end grain cutting board, you can expect to cut through a thin polyurethane surface, then where are you at?

I'm a mineral oil and wax person. Soaks in and easy to maintain.
 

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Hi Barry,

There is a product called "Emmet's H2372 1-Quintol Good Stuff Wood Finish for Maple Tops" which is a gelled poly that is made for butcher block surfaces. Google it
 

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Rockler has a general finish for salad bowls that I use when turning bowls that would work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks guys. It was probably what Aaron or Mike mentioned. J C, I looked up the salad bowl finish and, from Rockler's web site "For actively used butcher blocks that are used for chopping and cutting, only use Butcher Block Oil." I also hate to put anything on a surface used for food if I can't pronounce some of the ingredients.

I make my own "board butter" with mineral oil and bees wax. For a counter top I can see using the other products but not on a cutting board due to the knife edge cutting into the surface. A film finish would eventually show knife marks. If it's hard enough not to, I wouldn't think it would be knife friendly.

To me, oiling a board brings out the figure in many woods but it can take away from some too. The idea of a finish that didn't darken the wood was appealing but I think I'll just stick to the mineral oil and bees wax.

Thanks again for your replies.
 

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EZ-DO Polyurethane Gel says that it is non-toxic and food safe. It's been discussed on forums for cutting boards... but with mixed opinions.

Yes the finish is not darkened. The MSDS is a little scary to read, when you consider that mineral spirits is a hazardous material, but classified as "exempt."

What does bother me is that one a cutting board, you want a finish that is not just at the outside edge /surface of the board. Eventually, especially with an end grain cutting board, you can expect to cut through a thin polyurethane surface, then where are you at?

I'm a mineral oil and wax person. Soaks in and easy to maintain.
The mineral spirits will all evaporate off, but I'd be skeptical of a film finish on a cutting board. I guess I'm too old school. Personally I use turpentine to thin down pure tung oil for my 1st couple of coats. I give those a couple of days to cure out, then go to pure tung sanding it in with wet-r-dry paper. When I'm done they almost feel as if it's a film finish, wet sanding with pure tung will make it that smooth and they'll bead water like poly finish too. I'm doubtful that anyone selling boards would do this because of the time factor. I think that's why everyone uses MO. The time is too long to make any money.
 

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I've been selling cutting boards at craft fairs for a couple of years now ... two observations:

1. I will share ALL information about what I do and what my process is. I've had woodworkers ask me where to buy lumber, what glue I use ... I'm an open book. Woodworkers appreciate the information, and consumers like the stories I tell about how it all works. After all, if they're buying an heirloom quality cutting board or wooden serving piece, they want to know what they're buying. And since my boards are sometimes described by other people as pieces of art ... purchasers will want to know the artist behind the art. No. Secrets.

2. My wife sells small batch lotion products, and is constantly being asked about her ingredients, how natural the products are, etc. For a maker of cutting boards, keeping information secret about what products are used to prepare a food safe area is INSANE. Is it FDA approved? Avoiding such a question will cause sales to evaporate from any concerned consumer. Ignorant people may buy, of course, but smart people will not and ultimately, people are smart. That's how I treat every consumer. Don't you think?

I know some people use salad bowl finish on cutting boards, but I categorically reject any film-generating product, as that film will find its way into your food. Mineral oil and locally-harvested beeswax are all I put on my boards, and all that my purchasers are instructed to use.

After all, I expect their boards to last decades with proper care. Therefore, they need to know how to care for them in 50 years and beyond. Keeping a key component of routine maintenance secret? Laughable.
 

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here we go again..
not enough good adjectives to compliment with...
that is some mighty fine work you have done...
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Henry, once again, thanks for your input. I couldn't agree with you more. Personally, I'll talk to anyone about what I'm working on or what they're working on. Three weeks ago, i went to a craft fair at our local high school. There were only two woodworkers there. One of them had a small table and was selling small cutting boards among other things. They were nice little boards but they were mostly unfinished. I got into a discussion and he turned out to be a retired guy, about 10 years retired, and he got into woodworking and enjoyed it so he's starting to sell some of his stuff. I mentioned that i'd done a few cutting boards and that I finished them with MO and Bees wax using an 8 to 1 proportion by weight. He was most appreciative. He hadn't seen the other vendor who sold band saw boxes. He said that he hadn't done much with his band saw and I suggested the Alex Snodgrass Youtube video. Again he was grateful for the information. I also recommended that he check out this forum. As I walked away he was still writing notes.

Although I didn't learn very much from that fair i walked out feeling very good since I was able to share a little bit of knowledge, which is about all i have, with another woodworker. As much as I appreciate the beautiful work these craftsmen do, I like to talk shop even more.
 
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Thanks, guys, I truly appreciate the compliments. I am having fun....

Just returned from a fairly bad weekend event: San Dimas Western Days. Sold 8 boards. The headline, though, is that I sold my most expensive board yet: a walnut end grain, 16x20x1-1/2 with juice groove. $300.

So, it's back to the shop to make two more Walnut boards. Can't let the inventory shrink at this time of the year!
 

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The Michaelangelo of Cutting Boards

Aye caramba!!!
You keep doing that, Henry, and I'm gonna have to find another hobby...
:crying:
 

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beautiful....
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Absolutely beautiful.
 
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