Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Restored Butcher's Block

After many years, I finally restored my mom's old butcher block and it has a new home in our kitchen.
The natural wood tone is so beautiful, but it wasn't always like this!
As I have mentioned before, my mother passed away many years ago.  My father put many of her things in storage at their farm.  This butcher's block sat in a shed for about a decade, before he cleaned the shed and gave it to me.  (I begged the stove delivery guy to move it in for me, and here it rests on it's side.  You cannot imagine how heavy this is!)
I found some 'Butcher's Block' oil at Lowe's and applied several coats; allowing it to dry for a day between each application.
In an attempt to study some of the major artists, I sketched with the kid's sidewalk chalk Picasso's Femme en Vert et Mauve.  Not one of his most famous works, but it was one I thought I could manage!  I'll post on the chalk board and our art projects later.

These radishes make for a lovely 'still life' to paint.
I believe the block is maple wood, but I am not sure about the legs.
Previously, I had a tall book shelf in this space.  The old French wicker trunk gives some needed storage.
Before my 'Picasso,' my daughter drew a self-portrait.  I had an early 1900's New England decoy on display with a box of my mother's, grandmother's and great-grandmother's rolling pins; such treasures to me!
Here is the kitchen in progress with the butcher's block on it's side.
Before...
I started by scraping off the dirt and cobwebs after years of storage.
Next, I poured Clorox all over it and scrubbed it.
I have such faithful helpers.  Poor kids...they have no one out here to play with, so projects seem like fun, I guess.  I am not complaining!
After many attempts to clean the block and to sand it with a small hand sander, I made a horrible mistake.  The block had lots of dirt and old blood stains that I couldn't get clean, so I stained the block with a dark stain...horrible, horrible.  Back into storage it went, until I could figure out plan B.
When we had the floors sanded, I had my husband drag the block to the front of the house and begged the floor people to sand it down for me.  They did a great job, and I was able to restore it the right way!


"The modern butcher block was developed in the 1880s and was called at the time ' The Sanitary Meat Block.' It was developed to address a need by the meat cutting industry for a more sanitary and stable cutting surface. Prior to the invention of butcher block, butchers cut on tree rounds or a section of tree trunk set on legs. Butcher block, because of its construction, was fundamentally more stable. Tree rounds were susceptible to cracking creating an unsanitary condition. Butcher block minimized this cracking. Solid northern hard maple was used because it is the proper hardness. This was important because the butchers cutting tools needed to be durable and a harder wood would blunt the edge of these tools and a softer wood would degrade quickly.

The modern butcher block was always solid and usually very thick. The thickness was important for the longevity of the block and also for the stability the mass provided. Butchers needed a block that was stable insuring that the block would not move as large pieces of meat were placed on the block. Additionally, the blocks were usually very thick to allow the butcher to work on the block for a long period of time. A butcher would buy a block as an apprentice and use the block his entire career. When the block became worn it would be planed down to create a rejuvenated cutting surface."

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34 comments :

Olive Cooper said...

It is a family treasure and I am so glad you were able to restore it. If you were to buy a similar vintage one it would be so expensive.

Donna@Conghaile Cottage said...

Oh Christie,
I (((((LOVE)))))this story! WHY you ask? BECAUSE I have a butcher block sitting here(AWAITING a face lift). Like you, "I KNOW what it weighs"!!! Not easy to experiment with! Your finished product looks WONDERFUL! I plan on having HUBBY put mine on LOCKING wheels so I can move it when I want. "WELL, that's my plan anyway"(and Hubby says it's DO-ABLE)...
Thank you for sharing, NOW I'm going to go VISIT mine and do some "Wishful Thinking about it"!
Have a fun week,
Big Hugs,
Donna

Andrea said...

Not only is it a beautiful piece in its own right, but to have the history and story behind it, makes it even more special. I adore it!

chateau chic said...

Christie, Your butcher block is gorgeous! It's wonderful to have special things handed down to us from previous generations. One of the many ways to connect with our pasts.
I'm happy to be a new follower and hope you'll stop by, Mary Alice

Sonya@Beyond the Screen Door said...

Christie, this is absolutely gorgeous! What a treasure! That it used to belong to your Mom and now it's all restored and beautiful is just priceless! What a clever idea to have the floor guys help sand it for you!

sheri said...

Your butcher block brings back some wonderful memories of my godmother's kitchen - where i remember her using it for prepping salads mainly. It looks lovely in your home.

Sharing Shadymont said...

What a wonderful butcher's block. It looks so good with the items on top. What a treasure!!

Chrissy...The Apothecary Shop said...

It is just lovely...I am sure your Mom would be happy!!!! Enjoy it! Chrissy

Marsha said...

I'm so excited that you have restored and are using such a family prize. I would have used bleach, too! I'm glad you pointed out the rolling pins. I had seen them, but of couse, didn't know they belonged to your family members. How wonderful. My mom had several bread bowls that belonged to her grandmothers and they burned in a house fire. I'm glad you have such wonderful treasures.

Teresa@oursoutherncountryhomeandfarm said...

What a beauty!!

Yvonne @ StoneGable said...

Your butcher block is such a masterpiece. They don't make them like that anymore!!!!
What an heirloom. I am so happy that it has a place of honor in your home!
So so nice to stop by, dear friend! It has been too long!
Blessings and love to you!

Cassie @ Primitive & Proper said...

wow, christie- stunning! love that piece!

AngelaECS at Number Fifty-Three said...

It is so beautiful and such a special piece! And I love your styling, too. I'm visiting from Savvy Southern Style.

Gail @ Faithfulness Farm said...

Christie -- an absolute treasure! You did a great job of bringing it back to life. Enjoy it!

BTW, my kids grew up country kids with just each other to play with for the most part -- I think that is a great way for a kid to grow up. Mine always were very self entertaining and LOVED projects. Good thing because this Momma always had a lot of them :)

Blessings!
Gail

Anonymous said...

Christie, I have an almost identical butcher block that sits in the center of my kitchen. I love what you have done with yours. It looks great.

Bronwyn said...

Wow! What a treasure! Your mom is looking down from heaven enjoying it in use again. How proud she'll be!

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to see the finished kitchen--the butcher block is beautiful!
Noticed your fireclay sink in another picture. We are considering one in our re-do, and I'd love to get your input--any 'cons'?
Shar

Chenille Cottage said...

What a transformation! You worked hard to bring new life to your Mom's butcher block...and, it shows! It's beautiful!
Thanks for sharing!
Blessings,
Carolynn

Yvonne @ StoneGable said...

So happy to see you at TUTORIALS TIPS AND TIDBITS! XO

craftyles said...

The chopping block looks great and you did a good job restoring it's natural beauty. Can't wait to see the kitchen. I wish I had my Mom's old butcher block. I don't even know what happened to it.Sigh

suzyq said...

You had this in your shed??? Lucky you!
It looks just fabulous.
Suzyq

janet said...

Such a beautiful piece for your kitchen and a nice way to remember your Mom..

Hayley said...

This is gorgous, I am so jealous!!! I would love a butchers block I my kitchen( and I dont even eat meat!!)xx

Style Sisters said...

Wow you did an amazing job cleaning it up! We had a butcher block table growing up and I loved it! Yours is really a nice one! Come by thestylesisters and show off your table by linking up to centerpiece wednesday on our blog :)

Karin

Erika @ HomesteadSimple said...

What a lovely story and a lovely piece! You did a great job restoring it too!

Jana@Transformations From the Heart said...

Your mother's butcher block looks just beautiful now. Great job at restoring it. I would believe how heavy it is, my husband built one years ago though when we moved 16 yrs ago we left it as it was so heavy, about 300lbs. Miss it terribly, maybe one day he might build another.
Also, what a cute idea having the chalkboard frame above your butcher block. It all looks nice!

Kim @ Savvy Southern Style said...

I want one of these so badly. Lucky you!

Keeping it Cozy said...

This is such a gorgeous piece! And how special.

Sarah said...

christie, I'm obviously behind in my visits. Love the new look in your kitchen. I know you will treasure that butcher block that once belonged to your mom. I think they have wonderful style. You did a great job restoring this piece. Looks great in your kitchen!

Pamela Gordon said...

I love your butcher block! What a great sentimental piece to have in your beautiful kitchen. You did a great job restoring it.

Babso said...

I would love you trail mix recipe that was on Pinterest . . I cannot locate it . .. Looks Delicious!

Elisabet said...

Having just discovered your blog, I know, "gasp"! I am commenting on this post rather late, :D What a beautiful post on a family heirloom and its restoration. Alas, I am one of those strays with not a single family heirloom to her name *sigh* so you'll forgive me if I live vicariously through your beautiful heirlooms! The rolling pins are a beautiful collection of family memories as well... you are a lucky gal! :D
I am your newest follower and have subscribed by email so I don't miss out on one single morsel of you wonderful blog posts! Great to meet you!
Hugs from a new friend,
Beth P

Leslie said...

I am so glad to have found you blog.. we live in SC and have inherited a 400 Lb butcher block from my great Aunt's butcher shop/general store in Michigan... I guess my main question is ...how did you keep moving it?? by hand?? right now it is in my mom's house which is for sale as she passed last year... so we now need to have it moved about 30 miles away to our house...it doesn't need much refinishing but truly needs a good bleaching/sanding/oil......my husband said we need to have a mover/hauler come moved it.. I also bough heavy duty casters with brakes that swivel to put on it...

michaelswoodcraft said...

Hello Christie,
I just found your site looking for other sites on cutting boards. I am writing to you a little more than a year since you made this post. What a treasure to have the huge cutting board hand me down. Great work on reviving your board, it looks great.

I have been doing woodwork for years. Made a couple of the chopping blocks like you have a few years ago. Now I make the counter cutting boards, bread boards, etc. You might be interested in applying a wood conditioner on your board to help protect it from drying out. I am talking about a minerial oil and beeswax mixture.

I love your site!! Great pictures, alot of good information.
Michael
Mineral Oil Beeswax Wood Conditioner

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