Many people like to use butcher blocks as counter tops. People also like to use them as a kitchen center island to use as a cutting board. Oak is a particularly popular wood for a butcher block.
Oak butcher blocks are decorative and functional. If you have a butcher block made of oak, it’s important to treat it properly so the wood stays in good condition. If the butcher block sustains deep gouges or scratches it will no longer look as attractive and it may also harbor harmful bacteria that you do not want getting into your food when you use the butcher block as a cutting surface. If treated improperly, the wood can even split, severely damaging your butcher block. Treating your butcher block properly is not difficult or time-consuming and it can make all the difference in keeping it attractive and functional.
To Start With, Simply Scrape It Clean
General contractor Tom Silva recommends simply scraping your butcher block clean with a sharp edged tool. You should be able to find a scraping tool at any store that sells butcher blocks. Sometimes you can even find them on ebay. Scrape backwards towards you with the scraping tool instead of pushing forward away from you, because pushing forward might split the block. You will not need to scrape your butcher block every time you use it but you should do it regularly. You can use a sanding block to sand your butcher block after scraping if needed. Sanding should not be necessary ever time you scrape your butcher block, however.
You Can Also Apply Mineral Oil
If you want to treat your butcher block further, apply some mineral oil and rub it in well with a soft cloth. Mr. Silva recommends against applying anything else, especially a urethane coating. Many people think a urethane coating will provide long-term protection for their oak butcher block but it usually won’t. A urethane coating will simply develop scratches or gouges and you’ll end up having to sand it all off in order to repair the damage. You will only end up causing yourself further problems and create additional work for yourself in the future.
This Old House. http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/asktoh/question/0,,362169,00.html. Refinishing Butcher Block.