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Dear Dale:

Here Are Some Tips Off the Old Block

August 23, 1987|Dale Baldwin

Question: I want to convert a section of a countertop in the kitchen to a chopping block. I don't like the pull-out type, because invariably I need something out of the drawer below it when I have it pulled out. Would you advise me to sink the butcher block into the countertop or to affix it to the top of the counter? Also, what's the best kind of butcher block?

Answer: For appearance reasons, I would sink the butcher block into the countertop and finish it off with a flush chrome trim. As for the best kind, traditionalists prefer maple blocks, and if used properly and taken care of, one can last a lifetime.

Some consumers are finding the relatively new polyethylene cutting boards more desirable than the old-fashioned wood blocks. The big advantage is they are easy to clean and less likely to get nicked by knives, causing indentations that can harbor germs.

Douglas Whithorne, partner and sales manager for John S. Dull & Associates Inc., offers some advice on selecting a polyethylene board. He says the board should have enough "give" that the knife won't be dulled when it strikes the surface. And look for high density. In other words, if you hold up to the light a half-inch-thick board (about the proper thickness), you shouldn't be able to see through it.

Because the wood blocks have a longer life, you can expect to pay more for one. A comparison of prices, according to Whithorne, would be something like this: An 12x18-inch plastic board will cost about $11 or $12. A maple board, the same size will probably be in the $17-$20 range.

John S. Dull & Associates is the manufacturer of polyethylene boards and the West Coast distributor for wood butcher blocks manufactured by Michigan Maple Block Co.

If you send a self-addressed post card to Whithorne's attention, he will send you the name and address of a retail store near you that handles either type board. The address is 3320 Leonis Blvd., Los Angeles 90058.

Q: My husband and I want to install a spa in our backyard. It may seem like a simple consideration, but it will mean giving up my outdoor clothesline, and I don't want to do that. There's still nothing that beats clothes that have been hung outside to dry. Would you recommend a retractable clothesline?

A: By all means, and I'll send my laundry over every week. I saw one at Virgil's Glendale Hardware Store, 520 N. Glendale Blvd., recently. It was a heavy-duty type with five retractable lines, manufactured by Butts Manufacturing Co. in Garden Grove. The retail price was about $40.

Thanks to Ricki de Kramer, who wants to add something to our answer about turning off lights when you leave a room for a short time. He reports he picked up this information from some reliable source: If you leave a room illuminated by a fluorescent lamp and plan to return to the room within 15 minutes, it pays to leave it on, rather than turning it off.

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