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Thread: Can someone educate me on Watco Buthcer Block Oil and Finish?

  1. #1

    Can someone educate me on Watco Buthcer Block Oil and Finish?

    So I'm deep into gifting end grain cutting board for the holidays this year, my way of saying, "Sorry, I'm not leaving the house because of Rona but here's this really nice cutting board!". Include with each is some instructions about taking care of the board, oiling it, use Google if you have any questions. Guess I was too vague. One "customer" proudly texted me a picture of the Watco BB oil they bought, in compliance with my instructions to "oil" the board. For starters, I'm already loading these things up with mineral oil, then the ubiquitous mineral oil and bees wax, and I expose them to a variety of drastic humidity and temperature changes over a few weeks to "see what happens", and (in the case of 3 out of 40 boards) rectify any "it happened". In order to educate myself about this magical product, I picked up a pint today, but the label and Watco are lacking any detail about this product other than how to use it out of the can. My questions are, and again, I'm wanting to educate myself so I can educate my customers (friends and family, I refuse to sell wood projects!) about how to care for their end grain boards:

    • Can this be applied to an end grain board that already has the mineral oil/bees wax treatment, say, a few months after said treatment?
    • Can this be applied to an end grain board that already has the mineral oil/bees wax treatment, say, a few years after said treatment?
    • If this is applied to a "naked" end grain board, what, if any, re-oiling maintenance needs to be done after, considering "Average" use and washing?

    I'm going to finish one of my rejects with this just to see what happens. Personally, I'm not a fan, prefer the mineral oil and bees wax myself, but like I said, I have a big family and few friends, they're going to buy the first thing that says "oil" in the BORG. I'll leave any discussion about if it's food safe or not to another thread/site/forum, the label says it is, who am I to argue with Watco's lawyers, because I will lose that argument with most of my "customers", again, citing "Well the label says it is" and that is where their research into the product safety will end. "I wouldn't use it" will fall on deaf ears, and if I tell folks that they shouldn't use it, I'll be referred to as "dumber than a box of hammers, can't you read the danged label?"

    Based on your answers and knowledge of my customers, I may end up finishing some of these with the Watco, knowing they're going to do it anyway.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Northern California
    Sorry, canít answer any of your questions. I stopped using Watco years ago when I discovered Tried & True. I never liked the end results of a Watco finish. I couldnít be more pleased with T & T.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Morocco IN
    I used Watco butcher block oil on the top of an island I made several years ago and could not be happier with it. We use it for everything from chopping veggies to kneading bread to cutting pizza, etc. The top gets used in all the cooking we do, one way or another, and water still beads up on it. I thought I would have to apply more coats but so far I haven't. And it gets washed with soap and water at the end of the day. I had to wash it after the pizza cutting tonite to take the pics.
    20201124_202919.jpg 20201124_202927.jpg

    The can says to use it on bare wood sanded to 220, so I'm thinking the mineral oil / beeswax will not be a good substrate. I have no complaints - think its a wonderful product.
    You know, the worst ain't so bad when it finally happens.
    Not half as bad as you figure it'll be before it's happened.
    - Bob Curtin

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Yorktown, VA
    I can't educate you, but will say I use Watco BBO on my end grain cutting boards. It's not a film forming finish, is very thin and soaks right in. Sometimes it will soak all the way through a board overnight if just applied to the top. I usually do two applications, several days apart and let it dry for a few weeks. My theory is that it soaks into the end grain and penetrates deeply into the wood where it dries, clogging up the pores and keeping food particles out. Before use I buff on an oil/wax top coat from a paste made by combining Mahoney's Utility Finish, or Doctors walnut oil and beeswax (four parts oil, one part beeswax). The oil/wax is used to renew when the time comes.

    If applied to a naked wood board with no other finish, you could probably reapply when needed as long as the surface was clean, but no experience with that.

    I don't think it would work well on a board that had already been oil/waxed.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Peoria, IL
    If you look at the MSDS, Watco BBO is less than 35% varnish and the rest is solvent, including xylene. Personally I wouldn't want to work with food on wood soaked with all that solvent.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Los Angeles, California
    I melt beeswax with mineral oil, and tend to use more wax than I probably should as it solidifies pretty quick after it cools. Mineral oil is given to babies and is food safe.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    South Coastal Massachusetts
    It's perfectly safe, but "flashes" off the solvent after the emulsion penetrates the surface. This should cure in a well ventilated space.

    The varnish will likely form a hard layer, but only at the driest (outermost) reach of the board.

    Pics, please!


    I'm with you - Beeswax and Mineral oil are simple and proven in a kitchen - easy to reapply.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Kansas City
    Maybe you need to be more specific and specify "mineral oil" rather than just oil in your maintenance instructions. "Oil" includes a lot of things to people that dont do woodworking.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Tucker, GA
    I tend to recommend Howard Butcher Block conditioner to customers buying spoons or serving boards. It's a food safe blend of mineral oil and beeswax that they can find at the BORG. I normally use walnut oil to finish those items, which does form a slight film when dried, but nothing like a varnish. Lets them perk up the appearance and as said above, an easy maintenance step.
    A woodchick can chuck wood

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