Cutting Boards 101

Our Cutting Boards

A butchers block normally has the wood grain turned up on end and a cutting board has the grain running the length of the board. However, the terms are used to describe both and are no longer exclusive.

From what we understand, the moisture on the surface of the board is wicked into the interior, carrying bacteria with it. Because wood dries from the inside out, the bacteria will subsequently die due to a lack of moisture.

A type 3, waterproof cross-linked polymer glue that is FDA approved as food safe is the best choice. Yellow carpenters glues will melt with water contact, polyurethane glues are hard and will flake off and type 2 glues are only water resistant.

The rubber tips do four things: absorb shocks when chopping, keep the board steady and stable during use, allow for easier handhold when moving and gives a space for air circulation to keep the underside dry.

Using the holders gives the board a more finished look. The holders are somewhat difficult to make and require time to make properly. It takes absolutely no craftsmanship or ability to simply screw a rubber tip to the bottom of the board. To borrow a phrase from an old friend, “It looks like a brown stain on a white rag”. If a maker takes the cheap route here, where else is the cheap route being taken? Also, we use stainless steel screws to attach the feet where the other makers use the plated screws supplied with the rubber tips. Plated screws will rust, stainless will not.

On the Janka hardness scale maple rates 1450, black walnut is next at 1010 and black cherry is 850. But, the key here is the end grain construction which makes each very durable.

Normally we build for a 2” thickness for the end grain boards but most end up about 1/16” thicker. More thickness equals more weight and makes the board sturdier.

A guarantee of 60 days is included with each board along with the written return policy. View Our Full Return Policy

Choosing Your Board

The general rule of thumb is to choose wood from a tree with an edible running sap or edible nuts. Hard maple is the traditional wood used because of its very tight grain structure, weight and hardness. Although Oak meets the rule of thumb, Oak is a very poor wood to use because of the open grain structure that will tend to trap food particles.

Perimeter grooves can be added at an additional cost. Remember that they take away from the usable space on the cutting surface and can sometimes be difficult to clean properly.

Custom sizes are available on request. For 2″ thick boards, our standard policy is to take the next larger sized board and trim that down to whatever size you prefer. We don’t charge extra for the customization, nor do we offer a discount from the stock board price. For example, a customer wanting a 15 5/8″ X 21″ board would just order the stock 16″ X 22″ board and then specify their preferred dimensions in the ‘notes’ section at checkout. Quotes for larger special order sizes will be provided at no charge and will be honored for a period of six months.

Yes. But bear in mind that different species of wood react to humidity and wear differently so keep the different species as close to the same hardness as you can.

Bamboo is used primarily in the Orient and is a grass product. The smaller pieces require a tremendous amount of glue to be used which is hard on your knife edges.

Woods that measure 850 to 1600 on the Janka hardness scale will be good for a board. A measurement above 1600 will be tougher on the knife edges. A partial list contains: Ipe, Teak, Southern Chestnut, Bloodwood, Tigerwood, Purpleheart, Jarrah, Bubinga, Merbau, Hickory/Pecan, Acacia, most Bamboo and Wenge. Also, some manufacturers add a resin hardener to their boards which is extremely tough on knife edges.

Many are toxic and should be avoided. Woods like Teak contains silica which is highly abrasive to your knife edges. Also, avoid any spalted wood. Spalted wood contains a bacterium that is eating the wood and is toxic to humans. Steer clear of woods like red and white cedar. They contain oils that repel insects and if the insects won’t eat it, you shouldn’t be eating off of it.

Only if you hate your knives. The hardness of glass will destroy an edge almost instantly. Might as well use a brick!

Plastic is much easier on the edges than glass but the deep cuts that remain make it difficult, if not impossible to clean and sanitize. However, their cheaper initial cost makes them easier to discard but they will last in a landfill almost forever.

This is a popular idea. But proper sanitation and cleaning will reduce the chances for cross contamination. To be sure, cut the raw vegetables first then raw meats. Wash thoroughly and sanitize accordingly.

Care & Use

Your board will arrive already finished and ready for use. We use a pharmacy grade food-safe mineral oil, followed by beeswax for water resistance and protection.

To help maintain water repellency, apply our Board Butter (or a combination of heated mineral oil and beeswax) to the cutting surface periodically. First clean and sanitize the board, then apply paste with a soft cloth. Rub into the surface and wipe off any excess.  

Just remember to oil all the surfaces from time to time, not just the top. 

Any organic oil, vegetable, olive, nut oil and the like, should be avoided. They all contain natural fats and will turn rancid over a period of time. Nut oils can also cause an allergic reaction in those who are allergic to nuts. Avoid Tung oil. Pure Tung oil will take a long time to dry and may turn into an ugly mess unless a chemical heavy metal dryer is added.

Hand-wash with hot, soapy water and be sure to always dry thoroughly. Never soak or submerge board your in water, or place in the dishwasher.

After each use, wash with a quality dishwashing detergent and warm water. Wet the surface, apply the detergent and wash. Rinse thoroughly. (Do no leave hot water running over the surface for an extended period of time!) A solution of 1 tablespoon of Clorox to one quart of water is sufficient to sanitize. Spray on, let it sit and then rinse. Or, mix a 1 : 1 ratio of vinegar and water. Spray on, let it sit and then rinse. Or, coat the surface with salt overnight. The salt will absorb the moisture and kill the bacteria. Please read and refer to the use and care guide supplied with each board.

Clean the surface and use peroxide on a cloth. Dab the stain and the peroxide will lift the stain gently. But not quickly.

The best way is to keep the board well-oiled and washed after each use. Using baking soda on a smelly area will help but avoid using a paste of baking soda and water. Caution- the caustic nature of baking soda may discolor a wooden board.

Please don’t! Our end grain butcher block is very durable, but serrated knives will wreak havoc on almost any good cutting board. If you’re going to use a serrated knife for bread, do it on a cheap plastic board that you can throw out when it gets scarred up.