Everett

Woods suitable for a cutting board

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Hopefully this isn't too dumb, but what woods have people used and know are safe for cutting boards/Food contact?

Also, are there any species combinations to avoid because of movement, etc?

A list would be awesome for showing people so they can pick what woods they want in they're boards

The obvious ones and the only two ive used and can comment on:

Hard Maple

Purple Heart

Ev

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Are there any woods that some people are alergic to?

Are there any woods that are toxic and shouldn't be used in contact with food?

There was the great, "Are wood cutting boards safe?" thread, but I think that was in an earlier incarnation of this forum. Boy, you think people have opinions about Sawstop - that's nothing compared to cutting boards and food safety!

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Cherry and Walnut are some of my favorites. Although Walnut can drive the price up a bit.

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My timber selection basis for any food related item swings on a few points.

1) Exotics, as a general rule I shy away exotics, at least until I know of examples of their being used.

2) Oily woods, I stay away from these because usually the oil transfer a taint to the food.

3) Ring porous woods, Oak and hickory are examples, the open grain on these woods is a potential trap for food particles and the oils from dressings and so forth to get left in the wood and carry over into the next time.

4) Acidic woods, Oak again, spanish / sweet chestnut and Robinia / locust are examples. The oak at least has high levels of tannin and the others the same or other acid content but such woods will usually stain when in contact with iron and can be fumed with ammonia to change their color. Again, likely to taint the food and potentially react with some foods.

Thus, I would usually stick to a range of woods that include the following:

Beech, Maple, birch, fruit woods, and holly as the main ones. As a means of selecting suitable wood, consider those that have little or no fragrance, are close grained and free of knots.

There are exceptions to the above but this is what I fall back on when in doubt.

Ben

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Even though I frequently use purpleheart, there are some folks who will say its not suitable for a cutting surface. So when asked what woods are safe, I usually just tell people maple. Everything else is a judgement call. Even domestics like walnut can raise concerns about possible allergies. But even woods that have lots of oil or acid might not actually cause any problems with the food if the board is adequately finished with mineral oil/wax or even salad bowl finish. So...... there's a lot of room for personal opinions on this one. Would be nice to have some sort of definitive approved list though.

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Even though I frequently use purpleheart, there are some folks who will say its not suitable for a cutting surface. So when asked what woods are safe, I usually just tell people maple. Everything else is a judgement call. Even domestics like walnut can raise concerns about possible allergies. But even woods that have lots of oil or acid might not actually cause any problems with the food if the board is adequately finished with mineral oil/wax or even salad bowl finish. So...... there's a lot of room for personal opinions on this one. Would be nice to have some sort of definitive approved list though.

Anyone with severe Walnut allergies up for a test? :rolleyes: Bring your epi pens, just in case.

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I'll bring the benadryl, should be educational.

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what's funny is i had an allergy test a little over a year ago, due to my SEVERE allergic reaction to ragweed. I'm also allergic to Oak and Maple, LOL

But I assume that's just the pollen portion of them.

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My builder friend is allergic to mahogany, me im allergic to caffeine which every one tells me is worse :)

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Harder woods tend to dull a knife much quicker one of the reason that teflon became popular in the kitchen is because it is kinder to most knives. Anything over about 1600 on the hardness scale is gonna be tough on a good blade but that is what the steel is for I guess. Maple Birch and anything that grows edible fruit or nuts is something I would at least try, this from the rule of thumb on smoking BBQ meats.

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I'm curious - no one has mentioned bamboo. I've seen bamboo cutting boards in dept. stores lately. Does anyone know how it comes or even if you can get it anywhere?

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Here on the West Coast I see a lot of madrone being used. It's really nice to work with. Tight grain, nice color.

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Anything over about 1600 on the hardness scale is gonna be tough on a good blade but that is what the steel is for I guess.

The folks who supplied my granite counter top squared up an offcut, put four plastic feet on it and gave it to me to use as a cutting board. I thought it was crazy to use something that hard as a cutting board, but there's a real authentic old style Italian deli here and they cut directly on their granite counters. Still, I use it as a hot plate rather than a cutting board. Just saying that some people who use chef's knives professionally will use a hard surface as a cutting board.

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So when asked what woods are safe, I usually just tell people maple. Everything else is a judgement call. Even domestics like walnut can raise concerns about possible allergies.

I agree but there are also other safe woods, as i see maple is traditionally used in north america but here in europe the traditional wood for kitchen tools is beech and in souther Italy (and i think in all the mediterranean shores) it is olive tree...

I think that if our ancestors used them for centuries maple, beech and olive are reasonably safe, it would be interesting to know what woods are used in india, china or south america...

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I would recommend not installing a wood section of countertop to use as a cutting board. It will be difficult to keep clean and will quickly become a sliced-up mess that you will need to re-sand constantly.

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The real issue is bacteria infiltration – and not to be underestimated...

You want as tight a grain as possible and to keep the surface clean/sealed...

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I was going to joke about being allergic to work..... especially with the amount of hours I've picked up recently... but it turns out I'm not allergic to work, or even working hard. I am developing an allergy to car repairs, though. Seems my hands break out in a greasy mess when I attempt them.

As for bamboo, unfortunately, the supplier I have run across here is only stocking bamboo flooring, which means it's laminated strips of bamboo on top of other materials. (Lumber Liquidators.) I know that there are suppliers out there, especially since some species of bamboo grow 24 inches practically overnight. (it's not actually that fast, but some of them are ***EXTREMELY*** rapid growers.) I would recommend checking out Bell Forest for bamboo until something else pops up.

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I tried searching but didn't find much so rather than starting a new thread, I figured I'd bring this one back.  Is sapele decent for cutting boards as far as being closed grain?  I can't find anything that says it's closed grain which means I just don't know the actual words that mean closed grain when researching wood.  I have a dealer that is trying to sell me that instead of walnut since it's much cheaper. Any thoughts?  Thank you.

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I have used sapele for boards and it works great!  Now, with that said, I also like walnut.

 

Here's some I did recently..  The dark one is primarily walnut and the light one is primarily maple.  The light one has sapele accents.

 

dVIpdd.jpg

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the allergy issue to walnut I find interesting.  typically it is the nut that people have an allergy too.  I wonder what percentage of people with tree nut allergies actually are allergic to the wood.

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The allergy thing is something I've never considered honestly. Anyone know if theres any credence to that? Usually "walnut allergy" implies the nuts, but I could see the wood itself giving people a bad time. 

 

 

After making a couple VERY PLAIN end grain boards, I am quite at a loss how people are selling them on etsy for 30$, how do they make money?

 

 

the allergy issue to walnut I find interesting.  typically it is the nut that people have an allergy too.  I wonder what percentage of people with tree nut allergies actually are allergic to the wood.

 
I can eat the nuts all day, love em. Im very allergic to the wood (hives, breathing problems, rashes, etc), and must use a full on respirator and wear long sleeves to work with it. Kinda food for thought I suppose. 

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I'm curious - no one has mentioned bamboo. I've seen bamboo cutting boards in dept. stores lately. Does anyone know how it comes or even if you can get it anywhere?

 

 

I used a strip of woven bamboo flooring to make a tray for serving sushi on.  bored a hole in each end for the soy, wasabi bowls.   I had to strip/sand the finish off then coated it in vegetable oil.

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The allergy thing is something I've never considered honestly. Anyone know if theres any credence to that? Usually "walnut allergy" implies the nuts, but I could see the wood itself giving people a bad time. 

 

 

After making a couple VERY PLAIN end grain boards, I am quite at a loss how people are selling them on etsy for 30$, how do they make money?

 

 
 
I can eat the nuts all day, love em. Im very allergic to the wood (hives, breathing problems, rashes, etc), and must use a full on respirator and wear long sleeves to work with it. Kinda food for thought I suppose. 

 

Thanks.  I am a physician and have never seen anyone with a true anaphylactic reaction to wood.  So a good learning experience.  I have seen lots of people with allergic reactions and even irritations causing dermatitis to lots of material  (similar to poison ivy), and environmental allergy symptoms to plants, pollen etc.   Now I am going to have to talk to one of our allergists in my group and get some updated learning.  Maybe they will have some statistics for me.  If so, I will update on this thread.

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Thanks.  I am a physician and have never seen anyone with a true anaphylactic reaction to wood.  So a good learning experience.  I have seen lots of people with allergic reactions and even irritations causing dermatitis to lots of material  (similar to poison ivy), and environmental allergy symptoms to plants, pollen etc.   Now I am going to have to talk to one of our allergists in my group and get some updated learning.  Maybe they will have some statistics for me.  If so, I will update on this thread.

 

weithman5,

 

Thanks.  That info would be very useful.  My wife and I are currently making some cutting boards and I have wondered about this as well.

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Thanks.  I am a physician and have never seen anyone with a true anaphylactic reaction to wood.  So a good learning experience.  I have seen lots of people with allergic reactions and even irritations causing dermatitis to lots of material  (similar to poison ivy), and environmental allergy symptoms to plants, pollen etc.   Now I am going to have to talk to one of our allergists in my group and get some updated learning.  Maybe they will have some statistics for me.  If so, I will update on this thread.

 

Hey, good to know. I have RA if that plays into this at all. 

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