Let's get to the point: I love using Osmo's finishes for our countertops; both the Clear Matte and the TopOil. Relatively easy to apply, dries quickly, and it looks beautiful.
And let's address one more point: The following post is affiliate marketing, but I love the product and don't mind spreading the word. But before we talk more about Osmo, let's talk about....
Treatment vs Finish
We should go over these two terms in the context of woodworking. Technically speaking, our cutting boards are NOT "finished" but they are "treated." When we say that the cutting boards are treated, we mean that whatever material we covered them in (in this case, mineral oil and our beeswax mixture) will need to be reapplied in the near future--maybe a couple weeks or a couple months. Our countertops are different in this regard as we are usually "finishing" them. When we say "finish," we mean that the material we covered them in (usually Osmo or a Polyurethane of some sort) are made to endure a longer period of time, such as a year or likely more. Neither is truly forever though--"finishes" are sometimes erroneously labeled as being "forever" and it is important to take note of this... I mean, seriously, the heat-death of the universe is inevitable guys. Sorry, but your countertops aren't going to make it. Now that we got that worked out, let's talk about...
Osmo: My Favorite Finish
Osmo is actually the brand and they make an array of finishes & treatments, but I primarily use the two below.
Osmo Polyx-Oil: 3031 Clear Matte is one of my favorites but for ~$54 at ~25 ounces (aka 0.75 Liters) it may seem pricey. You can get a smaller size for ~$25 BUT the bang per buck doesn't make any sense. Per ounce, the larger one is WAY better priced. $2.16 per ounce vs $5.92 per ounce
My other Osmo pick is their Food Grade version called Osmo TopOil: 3045 Clear Satin and can also be found here from other sellers. If I really need to have a countertop food safe for indirect food contact, this is what I'll use.
I recommend applying Osmo with a finer scotch pad. Cut it up into smaller pieces so you can really get your money's worth out of the pads and the Osmo. As soon as you have applied it, remove it, let it dry and reapply. I do this three times, letting each application dry for 24 hours. You can find directions online and on the back of the Osmo, but over time, I have found this works best for me. Here's a fun fact: Osmo is used in some airport floors in Europe--a great testament to its durability. Just remember though, if you're expecting something that is invincible, well, it won't be--try epoxy with another finish instead.
If you're applying Osmo onto End Grain, you're going to be adding many more coats because it is so porous. You may want to consider clogging the end grain. But really, my primary solution here... is to use mineral oil for end grain and accept the material for what it is: a formerly living, highly variable material that has a lot of risks.
My Back-Up to Osmo
If I'm in a pinch, or I want to provide an easy option for a customer, I reach for Minwax's Wipe-On Polyurethane. It's so easy, I don't think it even really needs directions, but you wipe it on, let it dry for a bit, then wipe it off. Repeat once (or more if you like). I am not partial to the water-based version, so be careful to avoid that if you're searching around on Amazon. My favorite way to apply is to use these paper towels that operate nearly as well as cloth but you don't have to deal with the cleanup.
But why are the cutting boards treated and not FINISHED like some countertops?
So you sifted through some options and landed on an innovative kitchen design ideas for your condo, house or apartment, and you settled on wood. But you don't know what the deal is with this treatment vs finish deal. Well, there are a few arguments to be had here, but I think the most convincing one is: the list of FDA approved products that are safe for indirect food contact is a short one. And to get added to that list is expensive because you'll need to pay for testing. Want to take a guess as to whether or not it's worth paying for this expensive testing in order to sell a general wood finish/treatment on the market? Spoiler alert, it isn't. Most companies just choose to forgo the FDA approval and simply sell their product as something that isn't suited for indirect food contact even if it would pass the test with flying colors. From a business's perspective, one must ask, "Why pay for something that won't help your sales?" I think there are probably better ways to generate good will than get your wood finish a gold star from the FDA saying that your finish is safe for indirect food contact.
So you might be intrigued by this, and want to ask, "Well, okay Nils, so which treatments and finishes are legitimately food safe for indirect food contact?" And I'd tell you that it would be very stupid for a business owner in the industry going around giving such recommendations when you consider the potential legal risks. And on that note, we use food grade mineral oil and beeswax.
I'm spending the next week wrapping things up for Christma -pun intended- and frankly, I need a breather. I've been waking up at 7:30 (not so bad), going to work only to come home and deal with admin stuff until 1am (so, so bad). So, I'm resting after Christmas.
In January, we have some purchases made in late November with the discount code FCOVID20 where customers got a 20% discount in exchange for accepting their item in 2021 instead of 2020. We have to work on getting those items out first, and then we can start shipping items that were purchased on and after 12/17/2020. So, in short, I am expecting January to be a little messy, but we'll get'm done. After January, we should be resuming our weekly shipments.
Those of you who subscribe to our Newsletter know that I chose to take it a little slower this year. There's a lot of reasons for this, like I think this year has been so nutty, that I really wanted to prioritize the right things, so to speak, and I wanted BKBB to cool it on pitching, promotion, and sales.
As some of you also know, I'm a first time father to a 3 month old, and I am a-ok with winding down the shop a little earlier and spending a little more time with the little one.
While I won't be shipping boards out the week of Christmas (I think that starts on the 21st, right?), I will still be in the shop. My stock may very likely be well depleted, but if you want to try a pickup, that'll be the week to do it. If you want to try your luck, email me then at firstname.lastname@example.org
Maybe your board split, maybe it is just showing little cracks--in either case, what can you do?
Good news--it can be fixed. Bad news--it may be nearly as expensive as buying something new. More bad news--if you do it yourself, it might not save you as much as you'd like.
If you're fixing it yourself, and you don't have the tools to do so, you'll need to buy Titebond 3 (Glue), a random orbital sander, and a few grits of sandpaper (120 and 220 at least). If buy that from a big box store new, all told that can cost you $80 before you include your labor. But at least you can fix it a second time without needing to buy more, so that's a plus.
If you want me to fix it, I'm happy to but be aware that the unfortunate aspect to this is the shipping. Shipping between the general Northeast to Brooklyn & back is going to be at least $30. Shipping from the West Coast to BK and back is going to be at least $40 if not $50. Yikes! If I'm wrong, and you find a way, PLEASE let me know. Then, you also have to play for labor which can be anywhere between $20 and $50 depending on the issue. So there you go. Your range in price is $50 to $100 on a standard 12x18 board. If you live close by, you can drop off your board upon request and avoid the shipping cost.
So how do you go about fixing it yourself? Well, I'll be creating a little series demonstrating how, but for now I'll put it plainly. You want to sand the board evenly and create some dust. Besides resurfacing the board into something beautiful again, you also want that dust so you can mix it with the glue to create a putty. You use this putting to put into the smaller cracks and you'll continue to sand it at 120 grit. After you've done this for a little while, you'll do a finish sand at 220, trying to remove the marks made by the 120 grit. In the shop, we use a lot more grits (in this order): 60, 80, 120, 150 or 180, 220 or 240, 320. For a repair though, you should be able to get by with these two grits and some elbow grease.
Larger cracks will need the skills and tools of an expert. We're happy to help how we can, but if your board is more than a 5 years old, I would definitely at least consider getting a new one as opposed to paying someone to repair it. That's my two cents, but I'm happy to follow your lead :)
1) Product Orders are being shipped weekly. NO CHANGE from the usual.
2) Custom orders have delayed lead times. YES, DIFFERENT than usual.
3) "I have an existing order I'm waiting on or we've discussed" Odds are high that you're in the clear, esp if we've discussed recently (week of 8/18).
4) I am answering email daily, but my apologies in advance if there's a delay.
I know that was communicated a bit brashly, but I wanted to address the basics simply as possible for those who love to skim emails (I'm one of them), and make sure that people can't confuse #1 & #2, because that happens a lot (also me).
Custom work ordered before late September will experience delays with completion dates starting around mid-October. We estimate Custom Orders to have a lead time of 3-8 weeks during this time. These delays are just estimates, and may very well be shorter; that said, I cannot **promise** to meet deadlines that fall before October.
We don't believe Product Orders, like our 12x18 End Grain Walnut, will be impacted at all--Product orders should ship weekly during this period.
"Okay, but, like, what's going on?"
My wife and I are expecting late August/early Sept and we are unsure how our schedules will change. I would say that your custom project is still worth discussing as we might be able to finish it earlier--it's simply that I can't *guarantee* due dates. So, if you're on a very tight timeline and *must* get something done by September 9th, I won't be able to give you that 100% guarantee.
Thank you for your understanding. You'll probably hear from me sooner rather than later.
I’m renaming the the issue that’s effecting the world just so search engines don’t give me trouble like we've seen with one particular social networking site. I’ll be referring to it as C9.
I feel fortunate that it seems like I have learned about C9 from very level headed people who are saying to be calm, clean and careful. With that in mind, we are trying our best to embody those three Cs for our production, our deliveries and shipments. We are also recommending that you follow these three Cs upon receipt of any package. Watch where your hands are going, follow what the CDC and WHO are saying.
So what are we doing to make sure packages can leave our shop clean?
We have started making our boards in batches. Why does that matter? Virtually all of our boards we have in stock now predate the time when the C9 became public in the USA. There has been minimal human contact (if any) with these as they sit in storage.
C9 does not seem to last long on packages, as seen on this list (#6). In the specific example linked, they claim that even packages arriving from China are fine. Fortunately, packages usually take longer than 24 hours, the lifespan of C9 has on cardboard, to get delivered. Additionally, this 24 hour lifespan is based on lab experiments where the intensity of the sun can't potentially kill C9 off sooner.
Our packaging area is effectively a quarantine already, a quality that is probably more common for a small business. We're not a giant warehouse with thousands of goods and hundreds of people.
We have also changed the design of our operation so that people are more separated, thus making C9 too far out of reach for it to spread
Because of the smaller nature of our operation, we have a very willing and flexible workforce that has allowed us to change hours around thus limiting exposure; in other words, one person can work7:00am and the second person can work from 12:00pm to 8:00pm. There's only a 3 hour period where multiple people are working together. We are trying some other experiments where there could be zero overlap, and that's our goal.
Custom work has its own unique problems, but fear not as we have added a cleaning agent to the wetting process we do between sanding stages. After that, the pieces are only touched via clean gloves.
Lastly, let's do a quick comparison at e-commerce vs a storefront. Going to a store means you're going to run into people who are also trying to prepare for C9, which means you have a much higher chance for exposure, and it is unknown if these people are following any protocols. With e-commerce, the package is going to multiple people but it goes from person A to B to C to etc as opposed to C through Z. Lastly, the customer can still do additional preventative measures after the package is dropped off.
That's my two cents. Above all, please stay safe, wash your hands regularly, and practice social distancing. Remember, you are doing this for your neighbors, your family, and your family's grandparents if nothing else.
Look, I hate those articles that drone on & on before getting to the solution so...
TL;DR: try lemon or lemon juice. Eh, maybe bleach, but I discourage it.
Recently, a customer contacted me about mold on their butcher block, and they weren't sure what to do. The piece was big enough that they couldn't just haul it in, and the site was far enough that I wouldn't be able to do a site visit. So what can you do besides find someone who is close enough? Well, do it yourself!
I want to get my least favorite way out of the way first. Bleach it. You could further dilute some bleach and apply that onto the board and scrub with sponge or a stainless steel scouring pad. That said, I am not crazy about putting bleach near my food. If there are alternatives, I'll happy try all of them before dropping the nuke that is bleach.
I suppose you could try salt, but that just seems like a hassle.
So what are my favorite methods? Lemon and Lemon Juice. You can repeat the application we went over with bleach--apply the lemon juice, let it sit for a few minutes, and scrub with a stainless steel scouring pad; however you can also scrub with an actual lemon. Just cut a fresh lemon in half and push the cut side into the board, releasing the citrus juice. Doing this and then scrubbing it should help a lot.
If these methods don't work, you could have us repair it, though it might make more sense to replace the one you have.
I met Tielor McBride, the owner TM1985, a few years ago at American Field, and immediately recognized the quality of the work. He is extremely good at displaying his work as well; like, I think I do a pretty decent job, but he blows me out of the water. Real talk.
I find it very difficult to find this level of quality with leather work. The briefcase (sold out) he designed has much more detail than is necessary given what is available on the market. The one backpack available right now has a real nice mix. Nothing needs unnecessary complication. The cover to the opening lies over the top of the backpack and it features tied ends. You're probably familiar as I am with laces running through a common hoodie; you know what I always do with those? I tie a knot at the end. But then look at the additions. There's a side compartment with a zipper, and the top of the cover looks sturdily sewn into the backpack. These may seem like tiny details, but I know these are attributes that someone could have simply skipped. And aesthetically, I love a light brown with blue.
Anyway, I'll wrap this up and simply say: check out TM1985--I have been an admirer for years now.
First I wanted to handle the most recent news--we were mentioned in a Michelin Article written by Jacob Dean (his page is here). The piece covers the tools of the trade and is worth a read if you're pretty new to cooking or if you want a serious but bite-sized refresher course. Take a look! And now with that said...
For those that don't know, I tied the knot with my now-wife in Maine back in August. #gitmurd
We had a knock out time and got to experience everything we love about Maine... including lobster where it can be the cheapest way to eat if you have the right connections ;) Shortly after though, we headed south. What was supposed to be a tropical storm that just missed us turned into a Cat 1 Hurricane that went right over us. That said, our honeymoon could have been multitudes worse as I'm sure most of you know. Just a reminder for next time you're scrolling through Facebook and you see a donation page regarding Dorian--consider clicking on it
Alright--excuse me a minute--I'm just stepping down from my soapbox...
Thanks for reading,
We were recently featured in Departures, where they spoke very highly about our business and product line. It would seem that our end grain walnut cutting board just can't get enough attention! We really appreciate the shout out, Departures, even if you did call me "Wissle" towards the end of the article ;) Hey, it's a nickname I was given by my brother long ago, so it only seems fitting!
I'd also like to take a moment and talk about the direction Brooklyn Butcher Blocks is going, because it's going in many directions. It's a lot of stuff; too much for one blog post, but for now, I would like to cover how I have started and intend to continue handling events this year. Previously, I would ship crates or carry luggage and fly out to the destination city to sell our wares. Most infamously....
- shipped a crate to LA for an event, then flew out
- left the crate in LA for 2 weeks, while I returned to NY
- flew back out to LA and picked up the crate
- shipped the crate to Austin, and flew out to Austin for an event the following weekend.
Often these events barely pay for themselves once you get into shipping our product--it is just so heavy, it decimates products. But, from a marketing standpoint, it isn't pointless and over time the sales do add up. I'll see orders made around Christmas that I believe were caused from an event, and sometimes a customer makes a note of such to us as well. Thanks by the way, you make the work and effort worthwhile. I really do appreciate that.
The issue is that this system isn't sustainable--there's no way I will be able to hustle that hard forever, and I've come to realize this. Exposing my business to different geographic demographics does help build the business, and it also happens to be a value of mine.
My solution is pretty simple: We're still shipping product to and fro, but now we're hiring salespeople, brand ambassadors, booth attendants--whatever you want to call it--in cities across the country. This is still in its experimental phase. Right now, I am just interested in paying for the booth and the shipping costs. I think as time progresses, our ability to include Custom Work at these events will make them pay for themselves and then some. But first, we need to figure out what the system is that will lead to success, test it, execute it.
I am really excited about this process and seeing how it plays out. With that said, I wanted to share how our events in DC and Brooklyn went last weekend! Jaclyn attended American Field in DC while Kelly was at Bust Craftacular in Brooklyn. The day was as beautiful as any day in London, read: rainy. Despite the overcast skies, Bust and American Field saw decent turn out. Kelly accounts that, "Nils was right, the most common response was something along the lines of 'these are too pretty to cut on.'" What can I say except I'm in touch with my audience :P What surprised me though was that Kelly "mostly sold End-grain Cherry boards." Typically I have seen that New Yorkers gravitate to the Walnut, with Cherry being more of a favorite of Midwesterners. Jaclyn mentioned that "American Field was quickly transforming (from an empty warehouse) into a market for everything from natural soaps to one-of-a-kind clothing to handmade leather goods to Jagermeister - something for everyone!" This is very true and something I've always liked about American Field. But despite being different events in different cities, we were getting the same "ooooohhs" and "aaahhhs" as usual. Including a few proud owners of a Brooklyn Butcher Block who purchased in previous years! We're happy to have old customers stop by and sing the praises of our products to new buyers who are getting their "first 'Adult' cutting board" as Jaclyn and her customers put it.
So to Bust and American Field, I just want to say thank you for your assistance in helping build a community around good craftsmanship. And to Jaclyn and Kelly, thank you for having my back and the back of Brooklyn Butcher Blocks!