Keeping chopping boards flat?

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I’ve got a new end grain board that I’m really enjoying, noting that it’s new and flat. I’m fully aware it will start to score with repeated usage, but interested in hearing how you keep your boards flat?
Do you resurface or flatten your boards ever?
Or use a poly board on top and turf it when it bows / warps / hollows?
 
It's going to take you a while to get here:
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Scratches/score marks/etc. are normal, and endgrain heals fairly well. It's often easier to see the marks than to feel them. Best thing to do is to use it as much as you can, treat with some mineral oil and some board butter (mineral oil + beeswax, mixed). Some people scrape with a dough scraper (and this is also an old French trick), which has a similar function to scraping with a cabinet scraper.

If you use it enough so that it does get cupped in a few years, then the process is simple:
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:D That’s one dished board!
Yeah, I’m well practiced with the board butter.
Forgive the dumb question: Is the scraping just for cleaning / stopping stuff sticking to the surface? Or does it serve some flattening / maintenance purpose?
 
:D That’s one dished board!
Yeah, I’m well practiced with the board butter.
Forgive the dumb question: Is the scraping just for cleaning / stopping stuff sticking to the surface? Or does it serve some flattening / maintenance purpose?
Probably mostly the first but a bit of the second as a ride-along benefit. It's burnishing the wood more than removing it. A cabinet scraper has a burr so will remove wood. A dough scraper doesn't have a burr but the metal is harder than the wood so by burnishing it it is helping fibers and the damage around cuts to 'lay down' and so closes the grain a bit. AFAIK this is something done in commercial kitchens (considering the volume) as opposed to general maintenance.
To put things in context--I have a couple cherry boards that I've been using near-daily for the better part of a decade. They're full of knife marks, but no signs of being dished from wear. Cherry is a pretty soft wood.
 
Keep it saturated in mineral oil, oil regularly whenever it starts looking dryish and always dry immediately after washing. If you keep it dry and properly oiled it won't warp. In the end warping is always a result from a moisture problem.
 
Thanks McMan, that makes sense. I hope I get similar life out of my new board.
Have you limited moisture or heat exposure with your board to minimise warping risk?
As long as you don't keep it on the radiator or at the steam vent on the dishwasher, you should be good to go :)
 
I have an end grain Jarrah board from Choppa Block.

I oil with mineral oil (I use liquid parrafin BP from a pharmacy) when it gets a bit dry (but it did come pretty well soaked in oil, so it doesn't drink too much) then a coat of board conditioner (a beeswax/mineral oil mixture).

I have had the board for almost 6 years. In that time, I have resurfaced it twice, so I guess every 2.5 years. Basically whenever a good soak in mineral oil and a coat of board conditioner doesn't refresh the surface (or doesn't last for long).

I use a random orbital sander. Make sure you sand evenly over the whole surface or you will end up with a non-flat surface. Use a long straight edge to check flatness in the front-back, side-side and diagonal directions. Check this before starting to get an idea of what you started with (there will probably be a very subtle, gradual bowing on a big block), then at sensible intervals during the process. Obviously, use respiratory, eye and hearing protection.

The first job is to get through the heavily oil loaded top layer. Probably under 1mm. Use a coarse (40 grit) sanding pad. This will rapidly clog your pads. I have found that the cross-hatched pads (such as Irwin) are most resistant to clogging. By the time you are trough this layer, the score marks will likely be gone. Sanding will be much more effective once the oily layer is gone. Then it's a progression up to around 400 grit. I think I went semething like 60, 80, 120, 180, 240, 360. I think I used W&D up to 600 once but 360-400 is perfectly OK.

I very slightly round the edges of the board but this is probably down to personal preference. Do this with a fineish pad for good control unless you want the edges really heavily rounded, I guess.

Wash all of the dust off the board two or 3 times, let it dry then oil it well. It will be a bit thirsty the first time or two you oil it, so give it a few hours to soak I and repeat if/as necessary.

Both times I've done this, I've been extremely happy with how "like new" it makes the board look.

I guess it's an hour or two's work all up.
 
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15 years or so ago I got a 24” X 36” X 2.5” BoardSmith black Walnut end grain board. I loaded it with many (20?) layers of mineral oil on both sides and then several layers of board butter. I scrape it and apply board butter once a year or so. I use this board daily and after all this time it’s still flat!
 
Thanks @Nemo - mine is a Tassie Blackwood from Choppa Block so expecting it will probably wear similar.
Does the board conditioner with the added beeswax provide more moisture resistance than just plain paraffin oil? Just trying to understand the difference in function of the two products.
Thanks for your detailed resurfacing instructions. Sounds like something I’ll need to plan for in a couple of years (and another trip to Bunnings).
 
Thanks @Nemo - mine is a Tassie Blackwood from Choppa Block so expecting it will probably wear similar.
Does the board conditioner with the added beeswax provide more moisture resistance than just plain paraffin oil? Just trying to understand the difference in function of the two products.
Thanks for your detailed resurfacing instructions. Sounds like something I’ll need to plan for in a couple of years (and another trip to Bunnings).
Being softer, Tassie Blackwood is probably better for edge retention but will likely need refinishing more often. Also, mine is quite big and I tend to work mainly on the right hand side. Obviously I flip it around so it probably wears half as much as a smaller board.

My perception is that oil stops the wood from drying out (and maybe replenishes the damaged grains?) wheras the conditioner puts a nice water repellent finish on it. It looks quite different after being conditioned (I gues the wax is responsible for this).

I make my own board conditioner by dissolving bees wax in hot parafin. I use 20ish% wax but I have seen others describe using more. 20ish% works fine. It also makes a pretty good finish for many saya and handles.
 
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Boardmaker here.

Endgrain is quite hard wearing, and will take many years to dish appreciably. The standard way to flatten cheaply is with a router and a flattening jig (can be made at home, keeps router height consistent). Don't run it through a planer - Endgrain boards are prone to catching an edge and exploding.
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Edgegrain boards are easier to flatten. Planer (hand or powered) will do the job.

The electric handplane is for rough work only and won't get you back to the same place you are now, but would be a great first step in that huge island! I'd avoid a belt sander unless you use one on a regular basis and know how to control it. Nothing more destructive in a toolbox.

Endgrain will laugh at a dough scraper.

The ultimate poor man solution is using spray adhesive to make a carpet of 36 grit paper on a flat garage floor, move by hand like you're flattening a stone. Requires twice as much beer as McMan's method though.
 
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Boardmaker here.

Endgrain is quite hard wearing, and will take many years to dish appreciably. The standard way to flatten cheaply is with a router and a flattening jig (can be made at home, keeps router height consistent). Don't run it through a planer - Endgrain boards are prone to catching an edge and exploding.
Interesting.

Do you have a picture or a link for this king of jig?
 
I have a beech wood end grain board that still basically looks brand new after 10+ years of daily use and I never sanded, planed or flattened it in anyway; only put oil and wax on it. You barely even see cuts on it.
The wax is definitly worth bothering with. Like Nemo said you can just easily make your own mix with mineral oil + organic beeswax. It basically provides a slightly more durable coating on the wood that lasts longer than just rubbing oil on it. Just make sure you saturate it with oil first.
 
I would think you need to start with a saw like a chain saw or sawzall to get a little closer. Rough cut above what you want. That router can't handle that much wood in 1 cut with the picture above of the chopping table.
 
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