If I Can Do it, You Can: Refreshing Butcher Block

by Lisa Lombardi in ,

When I moved into my current apartment, I knew that one of the first things I needed to do was find a way to add more counter space and storage to the kitchen. If you don't recall, it used to look like this:

Don't worry, everything you need to know about is shown in the photo. That small strip of countertop where the sink is on the left? That's literally the only surface area in the entire room. Maybe satisfactory for two dudes who don't cook, but I knew it would be a problem for me. So I hunted down a coffee cart on Craigslist and a kitchen island at a garage sale, and those helped turn that depressing space into this:

That was about three years ago, and I LOVE that island. It's not really my style, but it's a total workhorse and there's no way I'd be able to feed myself without it. So, when I woke up to a forecast of crappy weather and absolutely nothing scheduled, I decided to refinish the top.

You know, as one randomly decides to do at 10:30 in the morning on a Saturday.

Some quick Googling confirmed that it's a fairly straightforward process involving my number one activity in the whole wide world: sanding! JOY. You can read the directions from a legit source here, but it basically boils down to: (1) sand with medium grit paper, (2) sand with fine grit paper, (3) sand with even finer grit paper (if you're fancy like me), and (4) wax on, wax off.

So I broke out the trusty power sander and got to work, not realizing until the dust began to fly that, maybe, I should have changed out of my pajamas first.

Eh, whatever.

Here's what the top used to look like:

Lotta rings and water marks going on there, from before I added a protective bottom to my vintage tobacco cans.

Once everything was sanded down and smooth, I wiped away the sawdust and started in with the Feed-N-Wax. Not only is it good for the butcher block, but it makes the wood look pretty and smells like oranges.

And when I was all done, the kitchen island was back to looking shiny and new! Or, at least, as new as it was when I bought it used from some family in Jamaica Plain. MAGIC.

Whoop whoop! So there you go. Adrienne thinks this is "fancy," but as you can see, if a sometimes-idiot like me can do it, pretty much anyone can. (As long as you own a power sander. Which pretty much everyone should anyway. Oh, the FUN that comes with it!)