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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My wood cutting pal gave me a block of wood about 20 X 20 and 4" thick a couple years back-solid white oak. I keep thinking I could cut this down, finish it off nice and make a cutting board for my wife. But you never hear of oak as a cutting board.
What do you guys think. It bugs me to have that beautiful FREE slab of oak just sitting over there under the table saw!. Ha!
 

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White oak is denser than red oak and is an excellent choice for a cutting board. While any wood can be used the goal is resistance to damage caused by the knife. Hard maple seems to be the overall favorite choice.
 
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The one thing I don't like about oak for cutting boards is the open grain. That's typically why you'll see maple, walnut, or cherry for cutting boards. THe more open the grain, the more chance there is to collect bacteria.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Bob3 be right about poly probably being the best, and we have a couple of them. I have two 36'X36 chunks of it about 1 1/2 thick, gift from a meat packing plant and I'm going to use that in strips for "sliders" and maybe even for quick fences. I want to fool around with the white oak just because its sitting there begging to be fashioned into something.
 

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I just noticed this thread...Use mineral oil to seal the grain and it should work nicely. The only thing I have heard that is used for end grain butcher blocks is mineral oil. Mineral Oil will keep the wood from drying out, and won't get rancid like a vegetable oil. Then you can use soapy water to clean it and re-apply mineral oil every so often. Look into the sealer stuff used by wood turners to seal it as well, since they make bowls and things used for food.
 

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Hi, I came onto this forum to ask about routing the groove around the perimeter of the white oak cutting board I am making (from sood scrounged from palets) to replace the white poly cutting boards that keep dulling our knives. I too have read of the mineral oil choice. My daughter has a home-made oak cutting board that over about five years of use has developed a lovely dark patina. I suspect she has never re-oiled it. But hot soapy water seems to be all that it needs to keep it clean.
- Peter
 

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Gee, I didn't even know I was a member of the chopping block community.

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The best kitchen advice I ever got was from a fellow who worked in a place that sold kitchen cabinets. He, of course, recommended all the usual sort of base cabinets you may find in the kitchen, but when he zeroed in on the "main work area" he said, "Don't install the usual 34-1/2" high base cabinet here. Instead put in a 30-1/4" high "vanity" type base. Then put a butcher block top on that section. The working height--where you do all of your knife and preparation work--will be perfect! The vanity cabinet is just 21" deep, but bring the face frame in line with the other base cabinets and just ignore the 3" of dead space in the rear."

I followed his advice. I've never missed the 3" of cabinet depth. Every time I cut something on that surface at that height it feels just perfect! And whenever I visit in someone else's kitchen and have the occasion to cut something at "normal" kitchen counter height, I think to myself, "How does anyone manage to control a knife way up here?"

By the way, the butcher block top is 36 x 24x 1-1/2"maple, has been washed daily, oiled rarely, and has made made no one ill in the past 25 years. To me, it seems like the very center of the house. (wife rarely cooks...)

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Postscript: For one year, I managed to pull myself out of the kitchen, and took the family for a long cruise on our sailboat. For that year, our cutting board consisted of a very compact NSF-Approved white plastic cutting board. On at least three occasions (which I recall vividly) the whole bunch of us suffered some sort of food-borne illness. Don't ask! While our very modest galley on that boat probably cut corners on quite a few food safety rules, today is the first time I ever considered the possibility that the cutting board might have been the culprit.
 

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Wood or Plastic? Myths about Healthy Chopping Boards

will this change your mind about wood cutting boards...?

Probably not -- but some may find it interesting.. several sites come to the same conclusion -- google it...
In the day butcher blocks were made of wood...The natural enzymes in wood killed any bacteria..The FDA mandated out the wood and there was and is a increase of salmonella and other bacteria..The wood cutting boards are very safe if common sense is exercised... ( I forgot, common sense is being bred out of the human race)..Treat the cutting board with mineral oil, wash it in hot soapy water, dry it, spray it with vinegar wipe it down with mineral oil..That"s what my grandmother did and none of the family ever got food poisoning..

Sometimes the old ways can not be improved upon...

Regards,
George Cole
"Regulae Stultis Sunt"
 

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My wood cutting pal gave me a block of wood about 20 X 20 and 4" thick a couple years back-solid white oak. I keep thinking I could cut this down, finish it off nice and make a cutting board for my wife. But you never hear of oak as a cutting board.
What do you guys think. It bugs me to have that beautiful FREE slab of oak just sitting over there under the table saw!. Ha!

Oak has large pores, thats why it a poor choice for a cutting board. .. "When these pores are cut through they are visible to the naked eye. Large pores cause the same problem as cuts and scratches – they harbor bacteria and can cause water-logging". So Oak is a poor choice and one of the most rare cutting board types sold. A company that specializes in cutting boards may not sell a single Oak board. Tight grain hard woods(as opposed to hardwoods) are best. That being said White Oak is better than Red Oak for a cutting board.



There are actually some mineral oils are not safe(some are mixed with other things), some you can drink or put in your mouth, some used as a laxative. I would watch those that come from China. This is the best I have ever used for wood surfaces and is certified Food safe Mineral Oil(though all mineral oil should be safe once dry anyhow).:


https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01LB7MC4M/ref=ox_sc_sfl_title_6?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A1U3JYLF2Q5Y2Z

Here is a smaller Qty:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XQ329C8?psc=1

This website here has loads of information on cutting boards:

https://www.cuttingboard.com/blog/why-is-maple-the-most-popular-wood-for-cutting-boards/
 

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White Oak is a different animal entirely from Red Oak. White Oak was/is used to make wooden barrels and buckets because the cellular structure is different. Water won't soak through it, even over time. It will make an excellent cutting board. If you want to make an even better cutting board, make it an end grain board. The knife goes down between the fibers instead of cutting them, sort of like cutting on top of a bristle brush.
 

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As I said White Oak is better than Red, but it's still not the best for a cutting board because it is an open grain wood. The reasons White Oak is good for barrels are the exact reasons why White Oak is not so good for a cutting board. I collect woods and guess I can get into this topic a bit. This is not to say we can't use White Oak for cutting boards, be my guest, it just isn't the best choice.

The large pores of White Oak(something we dont want in cutting pores) cellular structure allows small amounts of oxygen to permeate barrel staves and diffuse its contents. This diffusion imparts that better cut smell of White Oak has over Red Oak, as the large pores allow the wood cellular structure to accept and modify the liquids it holds. Red Oak gives a more burnt flavor to liquids sitting it it and the pores dont swell enough to make it as water proof like White Oak. White Oak has almost a pickle smell at first that turns any liquid into a Carmel colored flavored drink. The wood cells of white oak also contains a plastic like substance called tyloses in far more abundance than red Oak and this is key as this is what makes White Oak the more durable waterproof wood over Red Oak.

In 2017 there are far better materials we could use for a barrels just to be waterproof and cheap. So now pretty much the sole reason for using White Oak Barrels is not for holding the liquid. It has far more to do with "aging" the liquid in the white Oak that produces a chemical reaction that gives off a flavor. This White Oak flavor compliments and mixes with the concoction within the barrel to produce a different unique flavor. Again, not what is best for a cutting board and the one reason the main woods used for cutting boards are generally not open pore. We definitely don't want these the cutting boards imparting flavors into liquids or foods(meats etc) and that's exactly why White Oak is used for Barrels in the first place.

And though cuts arent as bad in white oak verse red it still a far cry from a tight grain wood that even far softer than White Oak.
 

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How about going the end grain cutting board route?
Or making a serving tray, bread board, drink caddy, small wine storage unit, knife block, trivets for hot dishes at the dn. rm. table,
storage box for steak knives, spice rack, any other ideas?
 
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