NO MORE XMAS ORDERS - orders made 12/17/20 12:00am EST to 1/15/20 may see delays as we restock.
Value-Boosting Home Improvements That Call for a Pro by Derek Goodman

Value-Boosting Home Improvements That Call for a Pro by Derek Goodman

This is a contribution from Derek Goodman that I wanted to share. He reached out to us, and I thought the article was solid so I decided to repost here. -Nils

Value-Boosting Home Improvements That Call for a Pro

There’s nothing like a good DIY project for saving money, learning new skills, and helping you feel accomplished. But there are some kinds of home improvements that call for the expertise and experience of a professional. For example, if you want to make a structural change or have any electrical or plumbing work done, then those are definitely projects for a seasoned pro. Not only will it help ensure that everyone stays safe, but it will also help protect your home’s integrity.

When it comes to making home upgrades, you want to consider improvements that will increase your appraisal value. And you want to make sure that you track the progress by taking photos and keeping receipts. Brooklyn Butcher Blocks shares some major home improvement ideas that are sure to boost your home’s value! And consequently, these all should be handled by professionals!

Kitchen Overhaul  

No room in the home will have more impact on your home’s resale value than the kitchen. So, if you’re thinking about a renovation worth your while, look no further. If your kitchen needs a complete overhaul, you will need to bring in a professional. Sure, you can probably paint the walls or change out the cabinet handles by yourself, but when it comes to installing new flooring, replacing countertops, or doing other extensive work to your kitchen, your best bet is to hire an expert.

Countertops are a major selling point for home buyers. Not only can they transform the overall aesthetics of your kitchen, but they can also make it safer and more enjoyable to cook. Brooklyn Butcher Blocks and their sister site San Francisco Butcher Blocks both create the finest butcher block countertops anywhere and would make a great addition to any kitchen update!  You may want to consider a finish like Osmo.

Electrical Work

You may think replacing a light fixture or rewiring a switch is simple enough. But one wrong move, and you can be electrocuted. For any tasks involving electrical changes, seek a professional electrician. An electrician will know how to stop the live power and prevent problems like sparking outlets, popping breakers, and overloading. Not sure if you need an electrician? Consider a simple tool, like an Electrical Voltage Test Kit, to check and see.

Plumbing Repairs

Similar to electrical work, you don’t want to take on the risks that come with DIY plumbing. While replacing a faucet or unclogging a toilet is easy enough for a seasoned DIYer to handle, anything more extensive than that should be avoided. Do you need a new septic tank installed or your sewer pipes rerouted? Do you need a burst pipe or water heater fixed? Ask a reputable plumber to pay you a visit.

Roof Replacement

A new roof can add major value to your home and is a huge incentive for buyers. Over time, every roof experiences wear and tear. And since it’s essential to protecting your home from the elements, it’s critical that your roof is always in good condition. If you have a simple leak, you may be able to patch it temporarily until you can get a professional out to your house. But if your roof calls for extensive repairs or replacement, then having a new roof installed should be a top priority.

Just be sure to research different companies, talk to people you know, and read customer reviews when searching for a professional roofer. There are lots of scam artists out there that will overcharge for services and advise you to have unnecessary repairs performed.

There are now more resources available than ever to the avid DIYers among us. But there’s no getting around the fact that some projects should be done professionally. Otherwise, you risk the loss of money, injury, or worse. Remember the improvements above for boosting your home’s appraisal value, and be sure to call in a professional for each one!

Visit Brooklyn Butcher Blocks to browse our selection of fine cutting boards, butcher block countertops, and more!

June 25, 2021

Where to buy butcher blocks? Right here!

As our name suggests, we make butcher blocks and butcher block countertops in Brooklyn! But we do ship internationally, so think of us as more than just your local woodworker.  While we can make anything, we primarily offer Cherry, Maple and Walnut (sometimes Oak) and we can arrange the grain so that it is Edge Grain (aka long grain) or End Grain. It is in our humble opinion that, generally speaking, you want to stick with edge grain when dealing with kitchen countertops and kitchen islands; however, End Grain can be a great option for a Kitchen Island that serves as the focal point of your kitchen.  The reason?  End grain needs to be cared for more and needs to be monitored; it's great to catch problems early with end grain, and you can only get that if you have a full view of it.

You're welcome to shoot us an email and set up an appointment if you would like to look at some samples at our woodshop.  Just be aware--it IS a woodshop so it can sometimes be a little noisy. And dusty too!  

June 16, 2021

"How I Started A Business Making Cutting Boards": Starter Story and I discuss BKBB

Hey all, 

So Starter Story and I discussed Brooklyn Butcher Blocks--its past and present mostly, the future is for the sequel ;) --and I really enjoyed the experience.  I think one thing I want to mention here, which you can read more about in the link below, is the passion I have for saving & investing habits that creative/artisanal business owners should acquire.  It has been my experience that far too often business owners in this particular industry don't address their futures soon enough and the reality is, IMHO, is that this niche will face more hardships than other business owners.  We do talk about much more than that--about how my business got started, I think my surgery too?, and the hacks I've developed over the years.  Anyway, take a look!

https://www.starterstory.com/start-a-business-making-cutting-boards

June 13, 2021

Choose a Wooden Countertop Sealer : Finish vs Treatment

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.

March 19, 2021

We're a little pooped

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.

December 17, 2020

Last call for 2020

Hey Folks,

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 nils@brooklynbutcherblocks.com

December 08, 2020

Can my Cutting Board be fixed? It split!

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 :)

-Nils

October 22, 2020

September Schedule

A few quick bullet points
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.
-Nils
September 15, 2020

Spreading across the nation...

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.    

We are following what the CDC has recommended and we're washing our hands a lot, specifically before and after activities where we are touching tools and shipping supplies.

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.

Cheers, Nils

March 18, 2020

"What do I do about Mold on my Cutting Board?!"

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.

January 15, 2020