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I made a cutting board for my self-healing cutting mat. Would I be able to use just the Minwax wood conditioner and no poly or stain? My first wood project was the craft table. After finishing it I used the wood conditioner with Polystain and didn't want to damage the surface with my rotary cutter, so I made a cutting board.

  • Hi, welcome to StackExchange. Yes you can apply it to your cutting board if you want to — what is sold variously as "wood conditioner", "pre-stain" and other names is merely a very dilute finish and as such can be used anywhere you feel that would be suitable. So the real question then becomes why you want to, i.e. what benefit does it serve? As it is such a dilute version of the starting finish it serves little, if any, benefit beyond its original purpose (see next Comment). You can leave the wood bare if you like, it'll work just fine and actually many 'utility surfaces' are best left bare. – Graphus May 21 at 9:02
  • In case you don't know "wood conditioner" and the other similar products are intended to be used when staining woods that are prone to blotching, and not for any other species. The reason is they limit stain absorption on normal wood surfaces and therefore how dark you can stain the wood (sometimes by a very significant amount). – Graphus May 21 at 9:04
  • Since this is a utility piece intended to be used as a work surface for crafts, you can also consider not finishing this at all. Just let it get scuffed and stained, and then occasionally resurface it clean. – jdv May 21 at 15:19
  • Thanks everyone. I appreciate it. 👍 – Celena May 21 at 20:33
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Yes you can apply it to your cutting board if you want to — what is sold variously as "wood conditioner", "pre-stain" and other names is merely a very dilute finish and as such can be used anywhere you feel something like that would be appropriate. So the real question then becomes why you want to, i.e. what purpose is it intended to have?

As it is such a dilute version of the original finish it serves little, if any, benefit beyond its original purpose.

And on a technical level you can leave the wood bare if you like, it'll work just fine and actually many 'utility surfaces' are best left bare. In woodworking workshops for example shooting boards, chopping hooks and other bench utilities, as well as many jigs, are regularly left as bare wood, as this gives greater grip on the wood being worked on them. And additionally a very light dampening of the surface can hugely increase the grip on the workpiece, if ever needed.

Unfinished wood does get grubby more easily (helping to prevent this is one of the primarily reasons we finish) but removing this sort of grubbiness is not terribly difficult if you ever find it unsightly, again bearing in mind it's a utility item so it doesn't have to be spotless.

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  • The one thing missing from this answer is the Graphus trademark note that one can make wood conditioner/pre-stain by thinning out whatever finish one was planning on using for the final coat, since that's all these products are. You're slipping, my friend, time to up your game! :) – FreeMan May 22 at 15:00
  • @FreeMan, :-) They had it already, so didn't feel it was necessary in this case. – Graphus May 24 at 8:19
  • Valid point... I hadn't noted that. – FreeMan May 26 at 11:02

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