Cutting Board Resurfacing Guide: Tips and Recommendations

It doesn’t matter how often or how well you clean and care for your cutting boards, they will eventually need replacing or resurfacing.  If you enjoy fixing up items around your house so you can get more use out of them, resurfacing cutting boards is a project for you.  It is neither very complicated nor very time-consuming.  So, if you have some time this afternoon to work on your cutting boards, let’s get started.

First off, it’s important to note that there are only two types of cutting boards that can be easily resurfaced – wood and plastic.  Any other type of cutting board, such as glass or ceramic, will be very difficult or unnecessary to resurface.  For these reasons, we will only cover the processes of resurfacing wood and plastic cutting boards.

How to Resurface a Plastic Cutting Board

\"\"

Before you begin fixing your plastic cutting board, you need to gather a few supplies; fortunately, you may have most of these in your home.  Whatever you don’t currently have should be easy to find at a local home goods store.

Supplies:

  • Clamps
  • Dishcloth or sponge
  • Dish soap
  • Dust mask
  • Electric sander
  • Eye protection
  • Gloves
  • Hand plane (optional, but very useful)
  • Razorblade
  • Sandpaper (25 grit through 80 grit)
  • Steel wool
  • Tarp or something to cover your workspace

Once you have gathered all the supplies, you can begin working through the resurfacing process.  The steps for this process are:

\"\"

  1. Put on the gloves, dust mask, and protective eyewear.
  2. Layout the tarp or whatever you have selected to use as a covering for your workspace.
  3. Use the clamps to secure the cutting board to a stable surface.  You will be sanding the cutting board, and you don’t want it to move around while you do so.  Tip: Try to clamp the cutting board in an area that does not need to be resurfaced, so you don’t have to adjust the clamps later.
  4. Use the steel wool to prep the cutting board surface for further sanding.  By scraping the cutting board surface with a rough piece of steel wool, the large pieces of loose plastic should come off easily and make the sanding process less strenuous.
  5. Use the electric sander to smooth out the surface even more.  Begin with a 25 grit piece of sandpaper and slowly work your way up to an 80 grit piece of sandpaper.  The reason you should start with a smaller grit is that the large grit will not smooth out the largest and roughest cuts on the surface.  Tip: Periodically, wipe the cutting board surface with the steel wool.  This will help remove large pieces of plastic that the sander cannot remove.
  6. This is an optional step, but if you have found that the sander is not going to smooth out the surface of your cutting board because there are extremely deep cuts and slices in it, you may need to try this.  Use either a razor blade or a hand plane to smooth out any areas that have deep slices in them.
  7. Once the cutting board is smoothed out, you need to reshape the edge of it with a razor blade.  Simply scrape off the edges until there is a beveled finish to them.
  8. Thoroughly clean the board with the dish soap.  Wash it twice to make sure you get rid of any loose pieces that may still be attached to the board.
  9. Dry the cutting board
  10. Enjoy your newly resurfaced cutting board.

How to Resurface a Wooden Cutting Board

This type of cutting board can be resurfaced, but it will require a few supplies to do so.  If you are very conscientious about caring for your wooden cutting boards, you will probably have most of these items on hand; however, if you do not, you should be able to get them locally or online without any problem.

\"\"

Supplies:

  • Dishcloth or sponge
  • Dish soap
  • Electric sander (optional, but it will make the sanding process easier)
  • Eye protection (optional, but they will protect you from getting dust in your eyes)
  • Food grade beeswax
  • Food grade coconut oil
  • Gloves (optional, but they will protect your hands from the lemon and salt)
  • Kosher salt
  • Lemon
  • Lint-free cloth towel
  • Mason jar
  • Sandpaper (80, 120, and 220 grit)
  • White vinegar

Once you have gathered all the supplies, you can begin working through the resurfacing process.  The steps for this process are:

\"\"

  1. Gently melt 1 part beeswax and put it into the Mason jar.
  2. Put 4 parts coconut oil into the Mason jar and stir it into the beeswax until they are combined.
  3. Allow the beeswax-coconut oil mixture to solidify while working through the next steps in the process.
  4. Put on protective eyewear and gloves if you have chosen to use them.
  5. Wipe the surface of the cutting board with the lint-free cloth that has been soaked in the white vinegar.  If the cutting board is in a really bad state, you may want to soak it in vinegar.  This step is meant to help disinfect the board.
  6. Sprinkle the surface of the board with salt.
  7. Slice a lemon in half and use one half to scrub the salt into the cuts on the cutting board.  This step is meant to both clean and disinfects the board.
  8. Allow the salt and lemon juice to soak into the board for a few minutes.
  9. Rinse the board with warm water and dry it with a cloth.
  10. Begin sanding the cutting board with the sandpaper.  You can either use an electric sander or your own arm strength to do this.  Begin with the 80 grit piece of sandpaper and slowly work your way up to the 220 grit piece of sandpaper.  The reason you should start with a smaller grit is that the large grit will not smooth out the largest and roughest cuts on the surface.
  11. Use a lint-free cloth to rub the surface of the cutting board with the beeswax-coconut oil mixture you created earlier.
  12. Allow the mixture to soak into the cutting board for several hours.
  13. Use a clean cloth to remove any excess beeswax-coconut oil mixture from the cutting board and ensure there are no sticky spots.
  14. Enjoy your newly refurbished cutting board.

\"\"

FAQs

Question: Which Type of Cutting Board is Better – Wood or Plastic?

Answer: Both types of cutting boards have their pros and cons.  It is ultimately up to you which one has more positive aspects than negative aspects.  Personally, I have a set of plastic cutting boards that allows me to use a different one for each type of food I cut (meat, bread, fruit, etc.) and I like this set better than any wooden board I own.  

To help you to decide which type will work best in your kitchen, let’s do a side-by-side comparison of their pros and cons.

Plastic Cutting Boards

Pros

  • Available in multiple colors
  • Inexpensive
  • Do not absorb odors or flavors from food
  • Most are dishwasher safe

Cons

  • Easy to damage
  • Slipper to use
  • Can leach toxins
  • Not always knife friendly

Wooden Cutting Boards
Pros

  • Available in a wide variety of wood types
  • Available in a wide range of prices
  • Available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes
  • Most contain antibacterial properties
  • Most are knife friendly
  • Most are designed to be non-slip

Cons

  • Easy to stain
  • Can absorb odors and flavors from food
  • Not dishwasher safe
  • Must be oiled and waxed regularly

Question: Are There Certain Types of Wood that Are Better for Cutting Boards than Others?

Answer: While there are certain types of wood that are preferred for use in cutting boards, this is still a personal preference.  When you select a wooden cutting board, consider the following features:

  • Cleanliness: Certain types of wood, such as cherry and maple, are close-grain.  This means they don’t have a lot of pores for liquids to seep into and create an environment for bacterial growth.  There are other types of wood, such as hickory and oak, which are the opposite.  They are not close-grain woods and any liquid will seep into the pores.  This is why it is recommended that hickory and oak cuttings boards only be used for fresh produce, bread, and items that will not cause food contamination issues.
  • Durability: Most hardwoods, such as beech, hard maple, and teak are built to last a long time and deal with a lot of chopping and slicing.  If you want a cutting board that you can pass down to your kids and grandkids, then you should get one made from hardwood.
  • Knife Friendliness: Most softwoods, such as cherry, walnut, and olive are knife-friendly.  If you prize your knife set, then you should get a cutting board made from softwood.

Note: Wooden cutting boards are typically made from the wood of trees that produce edible fruit or juice.  

Question: Where to Find a Great Cutting Board?

Answer: The answer to this question will, of course, depend on what type of cutting board you want.  Since we have been discussing plastic and wooden cutting boards, we will stick with that theme.  Here are a few online shops that offer some amazing cutting boards in these two materials.

  • Cooler KitchenThis shop sells some of the best sets of plastic cutting boards around.  They are easy to clean and conveniently colored and labeled to encourage food safety.  Plus, they are sold in a set with a bamboo cutting board just in case you want a more traditional board in the kitchen.  This shop has a 4.5-star customer rating.
  • Rustic Flitch: This shop allows its customers to participate in their initiative for sustainability and environmental awareness by planting one tree for every item sold on their website.  The olive wood items sold here are stunning.  Plus, nearly everything can be personalized.  This shop is a Star Seller on Etsy and has a 5-star customer rating.
  • Straga Cutting Boards: This shop offers a wide variety of wooden cutting boards and features customized engravings for all of them.  This shop is a Star Seller on Etsy and has a 5-star customer rating.
  • Ziruma: This shop focuses on producing large cutting boards made from teak.  The cutting boards are beautiful and well-built and the shop has a 5-star customer rating.

Question: What is the Difference Between a Butcher Block and a Cutting Board?

Answer: Because these items are built to perform the same basic kitchen tasks, the terms for each are interchangeable.  The differences between the two are so minimal that it doesn’t matter to differentiate them.  These differences are:

  • Butcher blocks are made exclusively from end grain wood; whereas, cutting boards are made from both end grain and long grain wood.
  • Butcher blocks are made exclusively from wood; whereas, cutting boards are made from wood, ceramic, glass, stone, plastic, metal, etc.

Question: Is it Safe to Cut Meat on Wooden or Plastic Cutting Boards?

Answer: Yes, but there are a few caveats that must be made.  These are:

  • Always wash and disinfect a cutting board after raw meat has touched it
  • Do not use a cutting board made from hickory or oak to chop raw meat (these types of wood are very porous and will soak in the juices from the meat and create a place where bacteria can grow unimpeded)
  • Do not use the same cutting board for raw meat and raw vegetables (designate two different cutting boards or use different sides of the same cutting board)

Concluding Thoughts

Hopefully, this article has brought new life to your current cutting board.  Resurfacing a cutting board is a great way to save a little money when your budget is tight and to learn a few DIY hacks.  If your cutting board did not look better or work better after resurfacing it, let Board N Block help you find a new one.  We have guides to help you buy any type of cutting board or butcher block.  We also have some great suggestions for how to store your cutting boards and some ideas on how to organize your cutting boards anywhere in your kitchen.  We’ll have the best room in the house up and working in no time.

Scroll to Top