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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-16-2010, 07:34 AM Thread Starter
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Default Wood for cutting boards

Hi all.

I know several of you have posted your fine examples of cutting boards, and after seeing them the better half and I thought they would make great gifts for Christmas. Well with the year half over and the way stuff seems to catch up to me with not enough time, I'd thought I'd start the project now.

I need some advise on the best wood types; what to use and what not to use etc., and finishes to use for cutting boards. I like to make an assortment of different styles.

Thanks in advance for the Info.

Danny
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-16-2010, 08:53 AM
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My two cents: I think it depends on what the boards are being used for.

If the cutting boards are supposed to be used for general food preparation (in the 'cutting' sense) you will probably be best off with the 'normal' species, such as maple and bamboo. Softer woods get cut up rather quickly. Inlays or other accents using tropical wood look nice, but I'd be a bit worried. Some species are toxic, and the accents might come apart after some use.

As to finishes: pretty much any decent finish, such as acrylic, is food safe once fully cured, but it is probably best to not use any finish beyond mineral oil. Sharp knives cut through finishes requiring periodic refinishing.

If someone is interested in a large board for the preparation of noodles or for general baking, it could be a bit more forgiving in the sense that you could use softer woods and indeed use acrylic as a finish. Other specialty boards are carving boards (with grooves and jus-collecting depressions) or bread-cutting boards.

I think someone who is a true cook would really appreciate a simple, solid end-grain, hard-maple board. Someone who mostly uses the microwave will probably appreciate patterned boards using different wood species.

Wooden trivets are also nice!

Just some thoughts. Hungry now...

Cheers - MM
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-16-2010, 10:41 PM
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Danny,
I have made more than a few cutting boards in the past and maple is the wood of choice and bamboo works well too.
Mischa is right about the exotics, you need to be careful in your selection.
Though it's not wood, don't rule out Corian and other solid surface materials. They are workable with standard carbide tools and they are non porous, making them excellent for food prep.

Tim

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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-16-2010, 10:45 PM
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Danny... my $0.02 (and worth exactly that!).. Small pore, close-grained wood is best, as it leaves little room for bacteria to hide. Hard is a virtue. Making it end-grain is ideal. The knife blade is going to enter the board somewhat with some cuts and that way it's like cutting into the end of a broom rather than across the bristles. As for a finish, you want something that isn't going to leave a film build-up on the top, as any film you make will be cut through, permitting water to get under it, causing peeling.

Mineral (or salad) oil is good, although it requires periodic reapplication. I chose to use dilute oil-based polyurethane (3 parts mineral spirits to 1 part poly) on mine. By flooding the end-grain surface, the finish soaked through the straw-like grain in short order. Then I wiped the surface dry and let it cure. The idea behind it is I'm not trying to protect the top surface of the board but protects the wood down deeper, holding it together.

This isn't my idea... I learned it watching on of Marc Spagnuolo's videos on The Wood Whisperer Woodworking Video Podcast and Blog, specifically one entitled (I believe) "A Cut Above".

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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-21-2010, 08:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeneSwayze View Post
i think oak is good for the work and for present)))
Not too sure about that, Gene. Oak (and for that matter walnut and mahogany) contains tannins which will react with the acid present in many fruits and the steel in some cooking knives to create a black stain (ferric oxide). I suspect that tannin can also taint certain foods. I've tended to stick to traditional fine-grained, light coloured hardwoods such as maple, beech, rubberwood, sycamore, etc for working (as opposed to decorative) chopping boards as there is no colour to stain foods nor naturally occurring chemicals to taint it.
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-21-2010, 09:35 AM
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Hi Guys

Just my 2 cents,,any wood for cutting/chopping boards is a NO NO..
You can buy the UHMW stock at many outlets now, Target/K-Mart/Walmart cheap, from the small to the big (24" x 24" ) why take the chance with wood, but if you just want to hang the wood one on the wall go for it..they are sure nice looking but not to smart..

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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-21-2010, 10:12 AM
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Just my 2 cents,,any wood for cutting/chopping boards is a NO NO..
Why's that, Bob? I've seen this argument swing back and forth for many years now. First they said that wood was uhygeinic, use plastic instead. Then they said that bacteria could propagate in the cuts in plastic chopping boards. And then they found that some speces of timber contain natural anti-bacterial compounds....... The argument is still going on I think
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-21-2010, 11:20 AM
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Hi Phil

" natural anti-bacterial compounds " and would kind of wood would that be ?

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Why's that, Bob? I've seen this argument swing back and forth for many years now. First they said that wood was uhygeinic, use plastic instead. Then they said that bacteria could propagate in the cuts in plastic chopping boards. And then they found that some speces of timber contain natural anti-bacterial compounds....... The argument is still going on I think



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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-21-2010, 12:30 PM
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Here in New Mexico, we make cutting boards by laminating cactus needles (after carefully snipping the little barbs off the business end, of course). Sort of labor intensive, though.

- Ralph
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-21-2010, 12:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobj3 View Post
" natural anti-bacterial compounds " and would kind of wood would that be ?
I'm not certain which species is best, Bob, but this article gives you the gist of the argument. If you start Googling this subject there are a load of (sometimes contradictory) papers out there.........
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