"Tung oil" finish (varnish) applied to butcher block- can I remove safely? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 15 Old 01-20-2012, 10:22 AM Thread Starter
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"Tung oil" finish (varnish) applied to butcher block- can I remove safely?

Hi- I'm sure this question has been asked before, so forgive me if I'm repeating others.

Purchased a nice Ikea kitchen workspace (w/ unfinished butcher block top). In my absence I told my wife to get a tung oil/linseed oil combo and apply a few coats every other day to get the oil base started (with the intention of converting to just mineral oil down the road).

My wife purchased and applied 2 or 3 coats of Formby's Tung Oil Finish (the varnish, no oil in there) and when I got back in town I discovered the fine plastic-like varnish seal over the wood.

I really wanted to keep this surface oiled only so we could prep food and block stains from leeching in, but now it has the Formby's "tung oil" varnish on there. Now I'm worried about cutting/gouging the finish and having stains seep under and into the wood.

At this point (w/ 3 coats of the Formby's varnish on it), is there a way to easily remove the existing coats and start fresh w/ mineral oil without making the butcher block look like crap, or should I just stick with what I have on there and reapply as needed?

Alternately I was wondering if in a few months time if I could go ahead w/ mineral oil on top of the (slightly worn) Formby's finish...

Any help/guidance is much appreciated.

-Chris
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post #2 of 15 Old 01-20-2012, 10:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by repoman View Post
Hi- I'm sure this question has been asked before, so forgive me if I'm repeating others.

Purchased a nice Ikea kitchen workspace (w/ unfinished butcher block top). In my absence I told my wife to get a tung oil/linseed oil combo and apply a few coats every other day to get the oil base started (with the intention of converting to just mineral oil down the road).

My wife purchased and applied 2 or 3 coats of Formby's Tung Oil Finish (the varnish, no oil in there) and when I got back in town I discovered the fine plastic-like varnish seal over the wood.

I really wanted to keep this surface oiled only so we could prep food and block stains from leeching in, but now it has the Formby's "tung oil" varnish on there. Now I'm worried about cutting/gouging the finish and having stains seep under and into the wood.

At this point (w/ 3 coats of the Formby's varnish on it), is there a way to easily remove the existing coats and start fresh w/ mineral oil without making the butcher block look like crap, or should I just stick with what I have on there and reapply as needed?

Alternately I was wondering if in a few months time if I could go ahead w/ mineral oil on top of the (slightly worn) Formby's finish...

Any help/guidance is much appreciated.

-Chris
"easily remove", that depends on your interpretation of "easy"

some may suggest stripping it, i think for me i would just sand it all off and start from scratch. Therefore not contaminating the wood with anything.

Food grade mineral oil is definitely the way to go.
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post #3 of 15 Old 01-20-2012, 10:54 AM
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What you have now is a sealed surface. Adding mineral oil to that will do nothing. You could use a chemical stripper to remove the finish. You could start with a waterbased stripper called CitriStrip. It can be used indoors. If that doesn't remove (after a few applications), try an MC based stripper (methylene chloride) It's very toxic, so follow directions for use.

When dry, clean up and it may only take a light sanding to get to the wood. Using a solvent like lacquer thinner may dilute what's left into the pores. I would refrain from its use.






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post #4 of 15 Old 01-20-2012, 11:32 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks. Let me ask, in your professional opinions, is the existing varnish okay for the butcher block, or will I be cursing myself in a few months if/when I see stains leeching under the finish?

If it's only a matter of putting a few more top coats of the "tung oil" varnish and then reapplying every few months, I'll go that way. But if you strongly advise that I strip the existing coats and start again w/ mineral oil, I'll do that.
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post #5 of 15 Old 01-20-2012, 11:47 AM
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Thanks. Let me ask, in your professional opinions, is the existing varnish okay for the butcher block, or will I be cursing myself in a few months if/when I see stains leeching under the finish?

If it's only a matter of putting a few more top coats of the "tung oil" varnish and then reapplying every few months, I'll go that way. But if you strongly advise that I strip the existing coats and start again w/ mineral oil, I'll do that.
If you will be using it for food preparation, I suggest removing the finish and using only mineral oil.






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post #6 of 15 Old 01-20-2012, 11:58 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone!
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post #7 of 15 Old 01-20-2012, 05:06 PM
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The problem you have is that Formby's is a highly thinned varnish. This means it will have been absorbed deeply into the wood. Sanding may not get it out. That said, I would not recommend using any type of paint stripper. Even the so called "safe" strippers are not something you would want to have food in contact with. Best, I think, is to find a cabinet shop with a wide belt sander and use an aggressive grit to get as much of the finish off as you can.

If the Formby's was applied to both sides, sand both sides to minimize the chance of warping.

An excellent treatment for wooden food preparation surfaces like cutting boards and butcher blocks is a mixture of mineral oil and either paraffin or beeswax. This is the treatment used on many commercial wood surfaces. It will last longer and be more protective than just mineral oil. Mineral oil can be found in most supermarkets in the pharmacy section or in a true pharmacy. Paraffin is found in the canning section of the store or in a hardware store.

Heat the oil in a double boiler and shave in some wax. The exact proportions are not critical--a 5-6 parts of oil to one part of wax will work fine. Stir the mixture until all the wax is liquefied. Apply the mixture heavily and let it set 10-12 hours or overnight. Next day do it again and continue until the wood will no longer absorb the finish. Let it set for 10-12 hours and then lightly scrape off any excess. Then buff it with a rag.

Reapply whenever the wood begins to look dry.

Never put a wood board in the dishwasher and don't soak it in dishwater for long periods.

Howie..........
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post #8 of 15 Old 01-20-2012, 06:20 PM
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There may be no availability to get the top sanded, and the OP may not be equipped or skilled to do that. I don't agree that any stripper is so called "safe". But, once done, and the top is cleaned, neutralized, and sanded, it would be a candidate for mineral oil. After repeated applications, I would consider the block food safe. Others may not.JMO.

I wouldn't want any paraffin substance, or beeswax on surfaces that come in contact with food. Again, JMO.






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post #9 of 15 Old 01-21-2012, 01:24 AM
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Hmmm..... I'm wondering if this is an "end-grain" top or not?? Or just a normal laminated flat grain? This would make a difference as to how to go about it.
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post #10 of 15 Old 01-21-2012, 09:40 PM
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>>>> I wouldn't want any paraffin substance, or beeswax on surfaces that come in contact with food.

Why not? Paraffin is a solid form of mineral spirits and is used in lots of food areas. It's been used for over 100 years for home canning of fruit and vegetables. Here is some additional info: http://homecooking.about.com/od/cook...aqparaffin.htm

Beeswax is used in lip balms, coatings on candies and many other areas related to food.

Some info from Wiki about beeswax.

* Purified and bleached beeswax is used in the production of food, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals:
* As a coating for cheese, to protect the food as it ages. As a food additive, it is known as E901 (glazing agent)
* As a skin care product,

Both paraffin and beeswax are used in the treatment of commercial butcher blocks and cutting boards.

Personally, I don't think there is any reason not to use either. Neither one has any negatives when using in conjunction with food.

Howie..........
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post #11 of 15 Old 01-21-2012, 10:36 PM
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>>>> I wouldn't want any paraffin substance, or beeswax on surfaces that come in contact with food.

Why not? Paraffin is a solid form of mineral spirits and is used in lots of food areas. It's been used for over 100 years for home canning of fruit and vegetables. Here is some additional info: http://homecooking.about.com/od/cook...aqparaffin.htm
From the site you linked: "However, some paraffin is not intended to be ingested".... Some paraffins and waxes may be present in certain products, but that doesn't mean they are good for you.

"It's been used for over 100 years for home canning of fruit and vegetables". Hmmm...makes me wonder if it's contributory to our rising cancer rate. There may be some commercially made BB's using paraffin, but the several manufacturers I buy from recommend only using mineral oil.

For DIY'ers maintaining butcher blocks, a simple maintenance of mineral oil is all that's necessary.






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post #12 of 15 Old 01-21-2012, 11:19 PM
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Hmmm..... I'm wondering if this is an "end-grain" top or not?? Or just a normal laminated flat grain? This would make a difference as to how to go about it.
The Ikea "butcher block" countertops are not real butcher block with end-grain sticking up, it's nouveau butcher-block - regular laminated strips of wood running the length of the top in random sizes to mimic the look of a wooden floor on your countertop. If that's what the OP is talking about, then good news is that the finish didn't suck down 30 feet into the pores and it should be possible to remove without taking half the wood with it.
If you're not into better living through chemistry then the only thing that comes to my mind is scraping. Lots of scraping. But that's because I hate changing the belt on the Performax and I think running the wood through a drum sander would gum up the drum.

Insert witty signature line here.
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post #13 of 15 Old 01-21-2012, 11:58 PM
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hmmm.....

Last edited by chemmy; 01-22-2012 at 02:29 AM.
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post #14 of 15 Old 01-22-2012, 12:08 AM
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Originally Posted by joesbucketorust View Post
The Ikea "butcher block" countertops are not real butcher block with end-grain sticking up, it's nouveau butcher-block - regular laminated strips of wood running the length of the top in random sizes to mimic the look of a wooden floor on your countertop. If that's what the OP is talking about, then good news is that the finish didn't suck down 30 feet into the pores and it should be possible to remove without taking half the wood with it.
If you're not into better living through chemistry then the only thing that comes to my mind is scraping. Lots of scraping. But that's because I hate changing the belt on the Performax and I think running the wood through a drum sander would gum up the drum.
Thanks Joe, lol, here i was thinking only 20 or so feet of sucking

I've done a lot of scraping in my time and your right, it would go pretty fast and if the surface is not real long, it would save on sanding belts or paper for sure. 3 coats of thin poly should not take that long to remove with a course burred scraper. since only the first coat of varnish would have really soaked in, i think also that the penetration into flat surfaced wood would be negligible to. so after scraping and smooth sanding, it should take up the oil just about as good as an unfinished surface would. Lets hope for his sake it's not real end-grain, lol.
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post #15 of 15 Old 01-22-2012, 03:04 PM
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>>>> "However, some paraffin is not intended to be ingested"

That sentence went on as "such as that sold for candlemaking", I'll be happy to warn folks not to chew on candles unless they are the ones used on birthday cakes. Lord knows I've had a lot of them.

They are not referring to the paraffin sold in supermarkets for canning.

Howie..........
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