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I am building a butcher block top for an island and I was woundering what is the best finish to apply after staining.
I would caution you against staining due to this being a food prep area and anything you use on your butcher block top must be food safe.
As for a finish, mineral oil is the product of choice for wooden cutting boards and knife handles, it is a safe oil to use on your countertop too.
However it is not going to be used for food prep so contamination will not be an issue. I just want a good finish that will stand up to water marks and hot plates. I was told poly but I am not sold on that just yet.
Well, the typical wood table top is usually a poly or a cab-lacquer. If you won't be doing anything you wouldn't do to a table top, then poly will hold up fine. Do not put hot pots and pans on it without protection or you will damage the finish. Since you are building the countertop, I would recommend making a couple of trivets for placing hot items on. It's easier to repair/replace a trivet than it the countertop.
Thank you for your wisdom.