Butcher blocks are made and used as a sturdy surface to chop and cut on. Although they were usually seen in butcher shops, they are now being used in the modern home as well. However, what happens when the butcher block starts cracking? Butcher blocks, even though they were made to withstand heavy-duty chopping, can crack as a result of either a factory defect or inadequate maintenance.
Cracks in butcher blocks usually result from:
- improper sealing
- rapid drying
- lack of maintenance
- Or improper installation.
With the right brand and care, a butcher block can live a long life; some of the cracks can also be repaired. Despite having several factors that can cause cracking, if the root of the problem is repaired, the butcher block will be as good as new.
Depending on the brand, butcher blocks can reach high prices, but no matter the price, everyone wants to get what they paid for. It is impossible for the block to remain intact; the damage is inevitable. However, maintenance and frequent repairs can help increase the longevity of the butcher block’s life.
Reasons Butcher Blocks Crack
As previously mentioned, butcher blocks can crack for several reasons. However, we will be going in-depth on how to identify what is causing the cracking.
Let’s start with an analogy: When gardening, weeding is an essential part of the process, but cutting the weeds offers a reprieve. For a longer-lasting effect, the gardener has to ensure they also remove the roots. Butcher blocks are the same way if one does not fix the root of the problem, cracks will reappear in the future. For this reason, being able to repair the cause of the cracks is the most important skill any butcher block owner can have.
- Rapid Drying- When making furniture, if the wood is not properly dried, it results in what is known as case hardening. This is a manufacturer error that causes the outer shell to shrink and harden and the interior to be susceptible to cracks.
- Improper Sealing– When the seal of the block is not properly done, it allows liquid to seep into the wood. Since wood expands and shrinks when fluid is added or removed, this can lead to cracks expanding over time.
- Improper Installation– When installing a butcher’s block it is important to puncture the top of the wood with the screw and ensure that no cracks are made in the wood.
- Improper Maintenance– Although butcher blocks do not require a lot of maintenance, it is necessary to keep the block clean, deodorized, and moisturized for optimal life longevity.
Knowing how to identify the cause of the crack is the first step one needs to take when fixing their butcher block. Although the majority of these causes are manufacturing errors, they are all easy and inexpensive to fix at home.
For the most part, no matter the cause of the crack, they are all repaired the same way. The only factor that affects the method is the size of the fissure. Smaller cracks require less work and can be fixed in a matter of minutes while deeper ones need more supplies, time, and work.
When dealing with hairline cracks, fine-grit sandpaper (preferably 200- to 220-grit) and a tack cloth is all the supplies needed. Using the sandpaper, sand away at the crack in the direction of the wood grain until the crack is gone. Wipe it down with the tack cloth to remove debris and sanding dust.
Bigger cracks, on the other hand, require more supply and can take days to repair.
What you need:
- Penetrating oil
- Fine-grit sandpaper
- Wood glue
- Wood putty ( if needed)
- Putty knife
- Tack cloth
When repairing deeper cracks, the crevice needs to be filled before it can be sanded down. For the filling, there are two options to choose from; one is premade while the other is a DIY. One can either choose to mix sawdust with wood glue or buy wood putty, no matter the choice; they are both used the same way. Using a putty knife, fill the entirety of the opening with the filling of one’s choice and use the knife to remove the excess mixture and leave too dry.
Once the filling is dry, use fine-grit sandpaper to remove bumps and even out the surface, all the while making sure it is level with its surroundings and blends in with the rest of the wood. Using a rag and the penetrating oil of one’s choice, wipe down the repaired area.
These steps can be used to fix any cracks no matter the size, however, the aftercare is what will determine if more damage will occur in the future. If dryness was the root of the cause, hydrate the block, if it was improper maintenance, up the game. No matter what the cause was, ensure that it is fixed.
How to Repair Manufacturer Defects
For most products with manufacturer defects, one can send it back before the warranty is over and either get it repaired or replaced. However, that is not the case with butcher blocks. Unlike most other products, manufacturer defects in butcher blocks take longer to be noticed, by the time they can be seen, the warranty has most likely expired.
However, instead of buying a new one, it is often cheaper to repair the cracked one. The supplies are inexpensive and can be found at any local hardware store; no professional experience is needed to be able to do so either.
When a butcher block cracks or splits because the wood was not properly dried, depending on the size of the fissure, there are different ways to go about it. Refer to the step-by-step method to see which works best for the fissure size that needs to be repaired. Since the root of the problem was excessive dryness, applying oil or butcher block cream to the block’s surface can prevent future damage.
Improper sealing is another common manufacture defect that can happen with butcher blocks, although this sounds like a complicated process, it is an easy DIY project. After repairing the crack by following the step-by-step, resealing the block ensures no future damage.
When it comes to sealing, there are several options to choose from. However, the best is believed to be Waterlox Original Sealer/Finish. With its balanced mixture of tung oil and resin and an added water-resistant finish, Waterlox has become a public favorite.
How to Maintain a Butcher Block to Prevent Cracking
If the butcher block was well made, there is no need to worry about manufacturer errors unless it was improperly installed. However, lack of proper maintenance can also cause butcher blocks to crack prematurely and cut its life short.
When taking care of a butcher block, it is similar to taking care of most wooden furniture, other than being cleaned and oiled, there is very little to do. In the case of a butcher block, it needs a more in-depth cleaning as well as deodorization since it is constantly exposed to food and raw meats. Wood is porous and can absorb liquids and bacteria which builds up over time and can give off an unpleasant smell. Once clean and deodorized, butcher blocks need to be washed when dirty, kept dry, and oiled at least once a month.
Even though butcher blocks can crack for several reasons, the facility with which it can be repaired is astounding. So, if the butcher block that is less than three years old is cracking, find the source of the problem, and uproot it.