Frequently Asked Questions


What sets the Boardsmith apart from everyone else?

We believe it's the little things that make a difference. Things like choosing the best wood, the best glue, using the best tools, and the best process. But it is also the fact that we deeply care about our customers and the products we create. We treat our employees like family, such as bringing in lunch every Friday to eat around one table together. Our entire family, including our teenagers, participates in the business. We value hard work together. We are very proud of what we create. Thankfully our customers agree. See our numerous 5 star reviews as well as the media outlets who have reviewed us. You can read more about why we do what we do on our About Us page. 

Which wood species should I choose?

We offer Maple, Walnut and Cherry because we believe those to be the best options available. If you are struggling to narrow your choices, we have several videos that explain size choices, wood choices, and other features.

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.

What size should I get, and how thick are the boards?

We’ve spent a lot of time honing in on the “perfect” standard sizes. We currently have three main sizes: our “Butcher” which is 12” x 18”, our “Carolina Cut” which is 16” x 22” and our “Big Block” which is 18” x 24”. All of these are 2” thick. We also offer a companion “Sidekick” which is 9” x 12” x 1 ⅜” for much smaller jobs. 

We believe these 4 sizes will meet the needs of almost every cook. The Sidekick and Butcher are perfect for day-to-day chopping and smaller kitchens. We consider the Carolina Cut to be our “Workhorse”. Lots of space for chopping, staging and pulling meat off the grill. The Big Block is big, bold and beautiful. This size brings the WOW and will offer so much versatility over the years. It’s heavy, so we recommend leaving it out on your counter as your everyday chopping block.

Our standard butcher blocks are 2” thick. Our feet and wooden escutcheons add an additional ⅞” in height, for a total height of 2 ⅞”. Why this thickness? In general, the larger the surface area of a butcher block, the thicker it should be. If we make our blocks thinner, the risks of warping and cracking go up. So while our little 9” x 12” Sidekicks are fine at 1 ⅜” thick, our bigger boards really need to be 2” thick. If you order a custom end grain block larger than 18” x 24”, I normally recommend bumping up the thickness a bit more than 2”.  

If you prefer a thinner board, please email us to discuss.

Why do you recommend installing feet on a cutting board?

For twenty years now, we’ve been installing durable, polyurethane bumpers that nest inside of hardwood escutcheons on our butcher block. And for twenty years, we’ve been getting emails asking if feet are really helpful. So I’m giving a LOT of info on feet here. Feet offer four benefits: absorbing shocks when chopping, keeping the board steady and stable during use, allowing for easier gripping when moving, and providing a space for air circulation to keep the underside dry. Feet keep the board elevated so that moisture isn’t trapped underneath. Trapped water can cause warping. 

Additionally, we place the rubber feet inside hand-made round wooden disks to provide protection and stability as well as a finishing touch of beauty. The hardwood escutcheons are time-consuming to make, but also a real mark of quality. 

We also choose to use stainless steel screws to attach the feet where other makers use the plated screws. Plated screws will rust; stainless steel will not. Not surprisingly, stainless steel screws are much more expensive. 

Because our butcher blocks tend to be fairly large, they are fully reversible, even with feet installed. So don’t let that be the reason you ask us to leave feet off of your board. 

However, upon request, we can leave the feet off of your butcher block. Approximately 5% of our customers choose that option, but they represent 95% of our problems with warping. From my perspective, the only reason to leave feet off a butcher block is if the height of the butcher block with feet is prohibitive. That normally applies if the user is under 5’3” tall (160 cm). If you are a bit “vertically challenged”, you can always unscrew the feet, remove the outer wooden escutcheons, and just screw in the bumpers by themselves. The bumpers by themselves are only ⅜” tall and offer most of the benefits listed above. Barring that, just put a thin towel under the footless board when it’s being used. 

Do you offer grooves?

Yes! We offer perimeter grooves and finger grooves for a small additional fee. Perimeter grooves come in very handy when using your butcher block for meat from the grill. Perimeter grooves catch the juices and prevent them from running onto other surfaces. If you order a butcher block with a perimeter groove, it will be cut on the top side only by default. However, you can choose instead to have it on the bottom of the block, bumping out at each corner around the installed feet. This Boardsmith innovation is proving to be one of our most popular options, great when you want a smooth top surface for daily tasks but also want a perimeter groove for occasional carving. 

Finger grooves provide a useful hold to lift the butcher block. Finger grooves also add a nice look to the sides of the board. When feet are installed, finger grooves are less important, because fingertips can slide under the bottom of the board. 

This video explains the options and features if you want to learn more.

Do you offer custom engraving?

Yes!  We love to personalize boards and offer custom engraving on almost everything we make! We have a gallery for ideas, but we welcome your creativity! You can add engraving to any order! We are able to engrave the face of the boards, but not the edges. An engraving in a corner (outside of the field of chopping) tends to be the most popular choice. 

Do you offer custom sizes?

Yes! We are happy to make any board to your liking. 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 three months. You can inquire here if you are interested in customization.

If I want a board with several different wood species, can you do that?

Sure! We love the look of mixed woods. Our Brick Boards, Border Boards and Mosaic Boards are just a few examples. If you have something else in mind, shoot us an email!

Are your boards reversible?

Yes, all of our end grain boards are fully reversible. Many customers find that they prefer to use the top face of the board since they don’t have to work around feet, but both sides of the board are fully functional. For boards such as our Personalized Maple and Walnut Cutting Board, we recommend using the engraved side for displaying food and the opposite side for chopping.


What’s the difference between an End and Edge grain board?

Great question and an important one when choosing a board that is right for you! John gives an explanation and easy visual picture in this video. An edge grain board is built with long strips of wood glued together laterally. An end grain block is comprised of lots of smaller blocks of wood glued vertically. The wood fibers on an end-grain board are gentle on knife edges, give wonderful knife feel when chopping and are much more resistant to knife marks than an edge grain board. An end grain board requires a hair more maintenance than an edge grain board. End grain boards are widely considered the ‘best’ when it comes to wood cutting boards.

What are the differences between a butcher block and a cutting board? Or is there one?

Historically a butcher block was used for just that… butchering meat. Typically a butcher block is an end-grain board (wood fibers are perpendicular) and at least 2 inches thick. These days “cutting board” and “butcher block” are often used interchangeably. However a cutting board can be made of many types of materials (plastic, teak, bamboo, etc.) and thickness can also vary. The Daily Meal explains it this way: Most of your basic kitchen knife work can easily be done on a basic board, but when you're doing bigger cooking tasks– namely, carving into massive hunks of meat– the thicker, sturdier, and heavier wooden butcher block is going to be much more effective for safe and secure cutting. Almost all of what we sell would be considered a Butcher Block because most of our products are thicker, made from high-quality wood and with an end-grain orientation. 

I’ve heard that wood is more sanitary. Is this true?

Yes! Absolutely true. End-grain cutting boards have two main advantages when it comes to food safety. First, the properties of end grain hardwood resist gouges and heavy knife marks that can harbor bacteria. CraftyCedar explains: The vertical orientation of wood fibers allows the board to absorb the impact of knife cuts and then recover, essentially sealing the wounds. Deep grooves and scars don’t form, ensuring a more sanitary work surface. Second, end grain hardwood has a specific capillary action that wicks harmful bacteria down into the board, where it dies. A number of scientific papers support the claim that end grain boards are more sanitary. You can read this study from UC Davis and this one from University of Wisconsin if you want to learn more.

What is the hardness rating of the woods you use?

Wood hardness is one of many factors that go into selecting the ideal material for a cutting board. Some woods like Teak are loaded with silica (sand that dulls knife edges), others like cypress are too porous, and still others aren’t food safe. If there were better woods than Maple, Walnut, and Cherry, I’d be using them. Honest! The advantages of these three species is they strike the perfect balance between being durable and still gentle on knife edges. 

Our Wizard of Wood, Nolan Russell, has written three articles on the wood species we use. Start with the first post on Maple to learn more. To answer this question briefly, on the Janka hardness scale, Maple rates a 1450 hardness, Black Walnut is next at 1010 and Black Cherry is 850.

Is there a wood that is too hard?

Yes. Woods above 1600 on the Janka Hardness Scale will be tougher on your knife’s edge. A partial list of woods we don’t recommend are: Ipe, Teak, Southern Chestnut, Bloodwood, Tigerwood, Purpleheart, Jarrah, Bubinga, Merbau, Hickory/Pecan, Acacia, most Bamboo and Wenge. 

Our amazing Wizard of Wood, Nolan Russell, also goes into great detail on our wood choices in his Wisdom Behind the Wood blog series.

What glue do you use and why?

I get a lot of inquiries about glue, and that’s probably justified. For cutting boards, it’s important that a glue be waterproof, durable, and food safe. The problem is there’s only one glue that is FDA approved as food safe and waterproof, and it’s REALLY expensive. At the Boardsmith, we use it exclusively, but most manufacturers don’t. Glue tends to be an area where corners are cut. I know of one major U.S. company using skateboard glue in some of their boards, and some manufacturers in Asia use a glue containing formaldehyde.  If you don’t know and trust the manufacturer, your concern is warranted.

I’ve seen bamboo used. Is it a good choice?

No, bamboo is not ideal. Bamboo cutting boards are primarily manufactured in Asia. Bamboo is a grass product. The smaller pieces require a tremendous amount of glue to be used which is hard on your knife edges. They are also much harder to sanitize and tend to break down quicker. And finally, some bamboo cutting boards may actually contain formaldehyde! Foods Guy has a great article if you want more information. For an heirloom butcher block that offers peace of mind, wood is the right choice.

What about exotic woods?

We generally stick to domestic species of wood. While some exotic woods offer cool colors and grain patterns, there are a few things to be aware of. Many exotic woods are toxic (i.e. not food safe) and should be avoided. Woods like Teak contain silica which is highly abrasive to your knife edges. Others, like Bamboo, can contain formaldehyde! Also, avoid any spalted wood. Spalted wood contains a bacterium that is eating the wood and is toxic to humans. There are also some popular woods like Teak that are on the endangered list. For more information on wood species to avoid, we’ve linked this article.

Can I use a glass/stone/granite cutting board?

Only if you hate your knives! The hardness of glass, stone and granite will destroy an edge almost instantly. 

Can I use a plastic cutting board?

The American Chemical Society published a study in 2023 about plastic cutting boards. They found that plastic cutting boards are a significant source of ingesting microplastics in food. Ack! No thank you! Plastic cutting boards also tend to trap bacteria in the deep grooves that the knife will make. And if you still aren’t convinced, plastic cutting boards end up in landfills because they aren’t biodegradable.

What about the environmental impacts?  Where do you source your wood?

There’s an incredible amount of ‘Greenwashing’ out there these days. We stopped using Mahogany in our butcher blocks a decade ago when we became aware of some pretty devastating forestry practices being used in South America, even on lumber that had received certification as being sustainably harvested. 

The same thing is happening right now with Teak, where manufacturers will plant massive plantations in Mexico and South America on clear-cut land, then load the lumber on huge tankers and ship it to Vietnam, where they use some of the cheapest labor in the world to make cutting boards before shipping them around the world again to be sold in the United States. But because they’ve got certificates of sustainability and use lots of green colors in their marketing, customers assume that they actually have environmentally-friendly practices. 

At the Boardsmith, we’ve been sourcing our lumber from a family sawmill in Pennsylvania that we know and trust. Regardless of certifications (and yes, they are FSC certified), they take environmental stewardship very seriously, and we really appreciate that.

Where do you make the boards?

We make every board by hand in our shop located in Frisco, Texas. Let us know if you are ever in the Dallas area and want to stop by!


What should I do when I first receive the board?

We recommend that you oil the board as soon as you receive it. We soak each board in Mineral Oil for 30 minutes and buff each board with Board Butter prior to shipping, but your board should still be able to hold more oil. Oiling your board early and often sets your board up for success. John gives tips on how to care for your prized butcher block in this video.

What products should I use to care for my board?

Mineral Oil and Board Butter will keep your butcher block in great shape for many years to come. Never use vegetable, olive, coconut or other tree oils as a conditioner on your butcher block. These oils will become rancid with time and can ruin your beautiful board.

How do I clean my board?

Please see our Care and Use page for lots of detail. But for a quick answer, some warm water and a mild dish detergent are great. Or you can use a 1:1 vinegar and water solution. Rinse well and wipe dry, and then store the board on one end to fully dry. 

Can I put my board in the dishwasher?

Absolutely no. Never put your board in the dishwater! The cutting board police will hunt you down. And even if they don’t, putting your board in the dishwasher will void your warranty. Here’s a video on how to properly clean your board.

How often should I oil my board? How much oil should I use?

There is no hard and fast schedule for oiling your board. The more your board is washed and used, the more often it will need to be oiled. A good general rule of thumb is to oil your board every few days for the first week, every week for the first few months, and as needed from there. Pour an ounce or two of oil on the board and spread it around with a lint free cloth or paper towel and let it sit a few minutes. Repeat this step until the board is no longer absorbing the oil.  We recommend buffing with a little Board Butter to provide an extra layer of protection on the surface of the board.

As a point of reference, an unoiled, 16” X 22” end grain butcher block can hold approximately 12-14 ounces of oil.

How do I store my board?

Boards with feet can be stored on their feet or on their side. Boards without feet should be stored exclusively on their side. A board without feet should not be left flat on a counter top because moisture can accumulate causing the board to warp or crack. No one wants a cracked board! And this may also void your warranty. You can read more about care and use here.

Should I use two boards, one for raw meat and one for vegetables?

This is a popular idea and we’d love to sell you two beautiful boards! Getting two different sizes can’t hurt (especially a larger board and a Sidekick)! But in all honesty, you only need one quality board. Proper sanitation and cleaning will reduce the chances for cross contamination. We recommend cutting the raw vegetables first, then raw meats. Wash thoroughly with vinegar and water or a little soapy water. Rinse well and store on one edge.

Can I use a serrated knife on my cutting board?

Please don’t! Our End-grain butcher block is very durable, but serrated knives are basically saws and will wreak havoc on almost any good cutting board. If you’re going to use a serrated knife for bread, do it on a cheaper board that you won’t mind recycling when it is too scarred to use.

Can I place hot objects on my board?

No, do not place hot objects such as hot pots and pans on your board. This can lead to burn marks or even more serious issues like warping/cracking. Wood cutting boards should not be used as hot pads or trivets unless the pan is cool.


How do I remove stains?

Maple is fairly prone to staining from berries, beets, etc. Walnut is much less so. A good coat of Board Butter greatly inhibits stains from occurring. But if stains happen, don’t panic! They will dissipate over time. Lemon juice and kosher salt may also help to remove stains. Do not use hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, or bleach on your board– especially on Maple! Chemicals such as those often discolor the butcher block far worse than the original stain. 

One of the wonderful things about a butcher block is that if it gets stains (or knife marks) over time, it can be sanded smooth and clean again.

How do I get rid of garlic or onion smells?

To remove garlic/onion odors, simply wipe the affected area with raw potato or apple. A chemical reaction occurs that helps pull the odors out.

Help! My board warped!

Don’t worry! A warped board is rare when properly cared for, but it can be fixed. Watch this video for instructions.

My board has black marks! Did you use a Sharpie on my board?

Absolutely not! We use the highest quality wood that money can buy, we painstakingly create each board by hand, and we inspect the board no less than 3 times before we ship it to you. What you are seeing are almost certainly mineral streaks inherent to the lumber used in your butcher block. These are organic in nature, not harmful, and will not affect the longevity of your butcher block. John talks about those mineral streaks and other idiosyncrasies at the end of this video (at about 3:33) or you can read a little more about it in our Wisdom Behind the Wood by our amazing Wizard of Wood, Nolan Russell. Organic marks and knots are not considered a defect and are not a reason to return the board. If you are unhappy with the appearance, please email us and we will consider your preference. A restocking and shipping fee may apply. Occasionally streaks or voids happen that exceed our threshold of “normal idiosyncrasies”. When this happens, we relegate a perfectly good butcher block to our “Seconds” page and offer it at a discount.


How long will it take my board to ship?

Our lead time on all standard (non-custom) boards is 2-3 weeks. If you have any questions about lead time or need a board expedited, please leave us a note at check-out or email us. Each board is made by hand after the order is placed, so we ask for your patience. We plan to make you a beautiful heirloom piece and that takes time.

What happens if my board arrives damaged?

If you have any questions or concerns regarding shipping or delivery, please email us. All orders are covered by Route Shipping Insurance, and we will do our best to make things right for you. Shipping damage needs to be reported within two weeks of receiving your order.

Do you offer any guarantee on your boards?

A guarantee of 60 days is included with each board. We include a written return policy in every box. View Our Full Return Policy.


If you have now read to the bottom of our FAQ, wow! You just learned so much useful information about these beautiful Butcher Blocks, and you probably understand how much we care about what we do. Thanks for your diligence. We sincerely want you to have a happily-ever-after with your Boardsmith Board!