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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-31-2014, 09:40 AM Thread Starter
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Default Cutting Boards

I have a number of domestic and exotic woods in my shop. Mostly 1 or 2 boards of each. These include Hard Maple, Curly Maple, Cherry, Purpleheart, Yellow Heart and Padauk. They're all between 3/4 and 15/16 in thickness, 3" to 6" in width and 2' to 6' in length. I'd like to make some cutting boards. Not having a table saw will make it a bit more difficult but i'll use either my band saw or circular saw to cut the strips. I do have a jointer and thickness planner.

I know that end grain is the best way to make board that will stand up to a lot of use, but i'm going to make either face grain or edge grain. If I go with edge grain I can get more thickness to the board. My questions: is there a difference between an edge grain board and a face grain board? If so, which would be preferable? Also, once cut, glued, sanded and finished are any of those wood species a "no-no" for a cutting board? Finally, I'll probably finish it with straight mineral oil. Any other suggestions for a better finish assuming that these will be working boards, not display boards?
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-31-2014, 10:57 AM
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Here is a chart on toxicity but the problem is usually with inhaled dust, only rarely with just contact. For example red cedar dust is very bad but planks of it are used to grill fish on. I've seen all of those species used for cutting boards except yellow heart and Padauk and that isn't necessarily because they aren't suitable. Wood Allergies and Toxicity | The Wood Database

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-01-2014, 04:19 AM
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Seems like I'm the only one here that mentions precautions on Purple Heart(?)

It's used because of it's beautiful distinct coloring and it is very hard. Maple will seem soft after working with that.

If you are working with Purple heart, please wear a carbon filtered respirator and wear gloves. I can't stress that enough.

Let me tell a little background. This is a South American hardwood that the Indians there take cuttings from, boil it down until they get a residue, dip arrow tips in to use to kill monkeys. Albiet, it's probably less toxic when dry and seasoned, but... I doubt that I would trust any number of coats of mineral oil over that wood (or any other finish for that matter) and think of purple heart as being food safe. I don't see a lot of that info out on the web or in charts, but that is how I was taught many years ago when I had to work handling that as an apprentice.

To put that in perspective and set a scale to reference that by-- we didn't bother much about MDF dust or other woods... Maybe about wearing gloves when handling arsenic coated pressure-treated woods... But my mentors were fanatical on being careful when handling Purple Heart.

On cutting boards, some people like the look of walnut cutting boards, but some customers complain that foods cut on it pick up a sort of acrid taste from that wood. I've made a few out of walnut, but I never actually cut food on them before they went out... So I don't know for sure personally.

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-17-2014, 11:10 PM
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The only wood that's mentioned by the FDA as approved for commercial kitchens is hard maple, "or similar hard woods." The similar hard wood is not defined in the regulations. That stated, most commercial board manufacturers use hard maple or walnut. You don't see the exotics being used, even though they are similarly hard. You also won't see curly maple being used, as that is a soft maple, yes?

Oh, and I've been working with purpleheart for several years with no breathing protection, and no problems.

Knock on wood.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-09-2014, 07:29 AM
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wear a carbon filtered respirator and wear gloves
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-09-2014, 08:00 AM
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Hi Barry

I have used all the species you have mentioned at one time or another. They all have different qualities and best suited for certain jobs.

I myself built one out of maple using the face grain up. It work very good, my daughter has it still. (10 or so year old)

I always wear a mask when working around dust of any kind, my old lungs have enough to deal with just breathing our air!

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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-13-2014, 04:16 PM
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Hi Barry,

Mineral Oil is what I use on cutting boards. I actually use what is called intestinal lubricant mineral oil. It can be purchased from a Pharmacy. Wallgreens, CVS and others carry it. It is the only finish that is NSF (National Sanitation Foundation, Ann Arbor Michigan) approved for use on cutting boards. NSF is the organization that creates sanitation standards and verifies compliance for commercial food service equipment in the USA. This mineral oil is intended for human consumption. Therefore, any of it that is adsorbed into the food is still considered safe.

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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-14-2014, 10:13 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldwoodenshoe View Post
Hi Barry,

Mineral Oil is what I use on cutting boards. I actually use what is called intestinal lubricant mineral oil. It can be purchased from a Pharmacy. Wallgreens, CVS and others carry it. It is the only finish that is NSF (National Sanitation Foundation, Ann Arbor Michigan) approved for use on cutting boards. NSF is the organization that creates sanitation standards and verifies compliance for commercial food service equipment in the USA. This mineral oil is intended for human consumption. Therefore, any of it that is adsorbed into the food is still considered safe.

Glenn
Thanks Glenn. I currently use just what you're recommending on a couple of wooden cutting boards. They were purchased a long time ago and the mineral oil really rejuvenates them. We also have a very old set of steak knives with wooden handles that i also use mineral oil on. Even though they don't go in the dish washer, just hand washing over time dries out the wood.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-09-2014, 05:56 AM
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I've seen a lot of purple heart cutting boards online though and no reports of people making them sick, is this just a matter of paranoia or is there proof that you shouldn't use it in food contact? As for walnut, the usual complaint seems to be that people worry about guests with nut allergies reacting to a small shaving etc from chopping.

Anyone here try using salad bowl finish on a board? The msds for that stuff is pretty harsh but it's obviously approved for food contact after curing...

What about tung oil?

Mineral oil just takes so much maintenance and doesn't so much as an actual finish for looks... Maybe if you buff it with carnauba wax?
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