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Desk Top / Butcher's Block?

I purchased a solid wood desk yesterday (I don't know what the type of wood it is) and I want to use it as extra counter space for my kitchen. Lifting up the height of it aside, I was wondering if it's even feasible to use the top of the wood desk as a counter?

I'm not sure how comfortable I feel just cutting on it (as if it were a butcher's block) or just rolling out cookie dough on it (porosity, etc.) given that I don't know if it's been treated with anything. It looks untreated (as in no varnish) and has no paint on it. It's mostly just really beat up and needs a good sanding.

I saw at Home Depot these two cleaners for butcher's blocks, and I've researched what type of wood butcher's blocks are, and it's mostly caused me more confusion.

So. Any thoughts?

Thank you.

A. Spruce
Re: Desk Top / Butcher's Block?

A desk won't stand up to the rigors of a counter, nor would I trust that any finish on it to be food safe.

The top of a desk is usually a very thin veneer over a manufactured substrate, usually particle board or some form of MDF board. A thin veneer won't stand up to anything being cut on it or bangs or dings. By contrast, a butcher block top is solid wood, which can take the beating that a counter top typically takes.

Whatever finish came from the factory on that desk is guaranteed not to be food safe, meaning that it will be toxic in some way, and since it isn't food grade, there is no way to ever know what it is/was.

Re: Desk Top / Butcher's Block?

I have a butcher block top to my kitchen island, but I don’t cut on it or prepare food directly on it. I used butcher block to top my island because it was the least expensive option that would blend with my countertops. I have a series of inexpensive glass cutting boards that I use for cutting and food prep. I like that I can pick them up and clean them really well in the sink. I do have to wipe off the occasional crumbs that land on the butcher block.

You could have a piece of tempered glass cut for the top, or like me use cutting boards. I bought my butcher block at the hardware store and a cabinetmaker I knew cut it to size. You could do that if it would look all right. I have also seen old dressers or other furniture topped with a piece of granite as long as the furniture was strong enough to support the weight. I’ve also heard of tiling a piece of wood and attaching it to a piece of furniture or tiling the top directly.

To do any of this, the desk itself would need to be very sturdy and not even a little wobbly.

Re: Desk Top / Butcher's Block?

A word about "food safe" finishes: virtually all modern finishes are food safe once the solvents have evaporated.The hazardous lead, cadmium and chromium are long gone. The term food safe is not used more because to legally use it, a long expensive testing procedure must be undertaken by the manufacturer to satisfy the FDA. Most manufacturers just don't think the cost and hassle is justified.

Most butcher block is merely seasoned with mineral oil. Vegetable oils are not advised because they go rancid and can potentially support bacteria. Some people mix in a little beeswax into heated mineral oil. There are also some prepared oils, such as walnut oil, which are used for wood seasoning. White vinigar is the preferred product for sanitizing butcher block.

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