I'll preface this by saying that I don't know much about wood finishes but I was hoping to get some help to recover what I've done sor far...

I got a butcher block style countertop slab to use as a desk top (this one). I added a couple coats of hardwax oil and let it dry for a few days in between but I don't really like how shiny it made the wood, also seems to give it a bit more of a yellow tint. So I started to sand it down, I'm at 400 grit and I really like the look and feel of the wood, what would be the best way to "keep it as is" but still seal it?

I remember reading that for a matte finish with hardwax you need to wipe it pretty agressivly 30~60 minutes after applying the harwax coat? Would that actually work? I've also seen that if you start with an oil finish you should only use similar types of finishes subsequently? Is that true? Am I locked in using oil based finishes? Even after sanding out a fair amount?

And finally, what would be the best type of finish to stay as true as possible to the un-finished wood from a look and feel perspective? Something matte? Maybe a water based finish would be a better option?

  • Hi, welcome to Woodworking. When you say you're at 400, did you start coarse and work up through the grits to this or you started at 400? If it's the latter then you might be OK to leave it as it is, although two warnings: 1) wiping down and general rubbing is likely to buff the wood to a higher sheen here and there (no way around that). 2) there's no way of knowing it advance if what you've left on the surface will provide sufficient protection for your use-case.... and really the only way to find out is just to use it and see how it fares (sorry!). [contd]
    – Graphus
    Nov 4, 2022 at 7:40
  • If you're now at 400 (note this is much finer than you generally need to, or want to, sand wood) you might be in line to add a different finish, but you'll need to test the ENTIRE surface and all edges to ensure no trace of the hardwax oil remains. Any amount — and I do mean ANY amount — could prevent the successful bonding of any finish, other than a similar one, or straight wax as wax is a 'universal resist'. You can wipe down with various solvents to remove wax, but how well this works with hardwax oils is a complete unknown because of the secrecy surrounding what it is and how it's made.
    – Graphus
    Nov 4, 2022 at 7:44
  • Now, re. the rest of the Q. As an experienced SEer, you should know this is way too many queries in one. One major question, with maybe one closely related query accompanying it, per Question. I'd normally follow on from this by saying feel free to ask the others in as many additional Qs as necessary, but actually the thing about being locked into oil finishes has been answered here numerous times (spoiler, normally no). Ditto what to use to keep the wood as much as possible looking like it's bare — but be aware this often results in not-great protection, far less than a countertop needs.
    – Graphus
    Nov 4, 2022 at 7:48
  • I've voted to close because this needs more focus (and then some!) and it's been 10 days since edits were suggested.
    – Graphus
    Nov 14, 2022 at 4:37

1 Answer 1


As explained above, residue from the wax is a major PROBLEM!!! You said butcher block so I'm sure hard maple or close which is good in this situation. I can't access picture so if it's open like oak just forget it! Otherwise it's belt sanding. Don't waste your money on wax wash.

I would start with 100 grit then 120 grit. When you think you're done, do it again! You gotta make some sawdust.

When all is said and done palm sand at 120 or 150 grit. Then, use aerosols. Mohawk Finishing has sanding sealer and satin lacquer in a can. Seal 1st and then use 400 grit paper and lightly sand to smooth, you'll be lifting the grain. {With maple I always brushed water on, dry in a couple minutes and palm sand at 120 or 150. to lift grain, you'll see it better in finished product.} 2 coats lacquer with 400 or 800 grit hand sand between coats, lightly, takes 2 minutes.

If you don't get the wax out you'll get 'fish eyes', you'll know them when you see them.

  • 1
    The Home Depot link specifies the countertop is made from acacia.
    – Graphus
    Nov 14, 2022 at 4:39

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