Cutting board

Keye

Keye
Corporate Member
My son has asked me to make him, as he put it, a honking big really nice cutting board. I asked him if he wanted a pattern. He said quality comes first but a pattern would be nice.
I made a few cutting boards a long time ago but they were more for show.
Mixing woods for something like this does concern me. I have enough trouble allowing for expansion and contraction with one species.

Any help in selecting the wood for this would be appreciated. Actually, because this is going to be used, any suggestions or help would be appreciated.
 

MarkE

Mark
Corporate Member
Yes, Maple, Cherry, Walnut.
I make a lot of end grain cutting boards and Maple and Cherry are the woods I use most. I use Walnut mostly for a border.
Working on one right now with a brick pattern, Cherry bricks, Walnut 'grout' and a walnut border. It will be about 24" x 18" and 2" thick. Made to order.
 

MarkE

Mark
Corporate Member
This is a good place to start if you want to build a patterned board. I haven't tried yet, just found it the other day. Looks promising.

Cutting Board Designer

I have been using this free program for a while now. It works well but is somewhat limited.
CBdesigner
 

Wiley's Woodworks

Wiley
Corporate Member
The most important consideration in choosing wood is how the wood reacts in usage. Stay away from the following:
  • Any spalted wood. The worm holes absorb bacteria that is really difficult to get clean after using the board.
  • Softer woods. Pick hardwoods on the hard end of the spectrum (read Understanding Wood by Bruce Headley). White oak, ash, maple, hickory, clean walnut are hard woods.
  • Porous woods. Red oak, poplar, most of your softwoods.
If you are making a face grain board, be sure and line up the end grains so their curvature opposes board by board. By this I mean if the wood is flat sawn, alternate curve up/curve down/curve up...

If you don't put a border piece around the board, you eliminate the expansion/contraction issue.

Use waterproof glue. I like Titebond III; definitely don't use Titebond I. When you clamp it up be sure and use cauls across the top and bottom to eliminate warp and buckling from the clamp pressure.

How you finish the cutting boards is critical. Quality oils like tung oil, palm oil, walrus oil or some commercial brands made specifically for cutting boards will give a good look and be safe in use. End grain can make some beautiful looking cutting boards, but it has to be finished differently than face grain. Your first coat should be diluted 50% with mineral spirits and applied liberally. This will help it soak deeper into the end grain. Wipe off the excess after it has dried for 24 hours, and then apply 2-3 additional coats, rubbing it in and then wiping it off.

As you alluded in your post, there's more to making a quality, long lasting, safe cutting board than just grabbing a bunch of scrap pieces, slapping on glue, and squeezing it all together.
 

kserdar

Ken
User
I friend of mine made cutting boards that he sold at local shows. To set himself apart from everyone else. He would laser engrave famous quotes, names, dates, etc on the board.

When asked about destroying the engraving by using the board. He always told people that there are 2 sides to every cutting board.
One you look at and one you use.
 

Bear Republic

Steve
Corporate Member
A nice thick end grain cutting board (1.25-2" think) can provide a lifetime of use when maintained with a conditioner, mineral oil & beeswax. The conditioner recipe is pretty simple 4 parts mineral oil to one part beeswax. A well maintained board might be able to be handed down like grandma's cast iron skillet.
 

Jeff

Jeff
Corporate Member
a honking big really nice cutting board.
How big and what does he mean by "really nice"? Does he intend to use the board in his kitchen or use it for display?

Personally I don't think that end grain cutting boards are worth the time and effort to make. A face grain board will hold up about as well with proper care. Here are a few types of boards.

 
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bowman

Board of Directors, Events Director
Neal
Staff member
Corporate Member
@Jeff , all a matter of opinion. If it is something creator wishes to build and sell, I'm sure the price will reflect the extra labor time. If it's a matter of creating a gift, or trying and upping his skill level, more power and best wishes.
 

Keye

Keye
Corporate Member
He has become quite the accomplished chef. He said it is the best therapy he has found to relieve the stress from working in a hospital ER. He has volunteered to work in the covid-19 ward. He came by Sunday morning after work and was a mess. He had lost a 39 year old female to Covid-19. She was in excellent health be Covid-19. She left a husband and 2 children.

The cutting board will see a lot of use. I want this to be really nice and long time functional.
 

Jeff

Jeff
Corporate Member
@Jeff , all a matter of opinion. If it is something creator wishes to build and sell, I'm sure the price will reflect the extra labor time. If it's a matter of creating a gift, or trying and upping his skill level, more power and best wishes.
Yep, just an opinion but I thought that opinions were allowed. The OP can decide what/how he wants to make it for his son.

Actually, because this is going to be used, any suggestions or help would be appreciated.
.........but no opinions please?
 

MarkE

Mark
Corporate Member
Personally I don't think that end grain cutting boards are worth the time and effort to make. A face grain board will hold up about as well with proper care. Here are a few types of boards.

Face grain boards do hold up pretty well, but they show the cuts and scratches a lot more. An end grain cutting board is actually better for your knives. For me, it is worth the extra effort.
 

Berta

Berta
Corporate Member
I have made a couple of end grain cutting boards. The directions say to glue up the board in a certain pattern, cross cut them, arrange end grain up and then glue again. I don’t own one.
 

Billm0066

Bill
User
How big and what does he mean by "really nice"? Does he intend to use the board in his kitchen or use it for display?

Personally I don't think that end grain cutting boards are worth the time and effort to make. A face grain board will hold up about as well with proper care. Here are a few types of boards.

I’ve made over 100 boards and I disagree. End grain is much more durable and it’s easier on your knives. I’ve had my end grain board for almost two years and no scratches on it. Face grain scratches very easily. Worth the extra rip and glue up.
 

Brian Patterson

Bstrom
User
I’ve made over 100 boards and I disagree. End grain is much more durable and it’s easier on your knives. I’ve had my end grain board for almost two years and no scratches on it. Face grain scratches very easily. Worth the extra rip and glue up.
I agree but a simple resanding will cure any face grain wear and tear. Love end grain but love face grain design opps too. Walnut may give an allergic reaction and is considered a toxic wood ingested by humans, especially the sawdust.
 

Jeff

Jeff
Corporate Member
I agree but a simple resanding will cure any face grain wear and tear. Love end grain but love face grain design opps too. Walnut may give an allergic reaction and is considered a toxic wood ingested by humans, especially the sawdust.
Maybe contact dermatitis (like poison ivy) on the skin from the sawdust, but it's not toxic to humans if ingested. A walnut cutting board or bowls/spoons are even less likely to be a toxic problem for humans
 

Jeff

Jeff
Corporate Member
I’ve made over 100 boards and I disagree. End grain is much more durable and it’s easier on your knives. I’ve had my end grain board for almost two years and no scratches on it. Face grain scratches very easily. Worth the extra rip and glue up.
So does end grain but you don't see the scratches because they're below the surface of the wood. End grain is like a handful of straws. The knife blade goes between the straws so they're not visible even with a magnifying loupe.
 

Mike Davis

Mike
Corporate Member
America's Test Kitchen did a series of tests on cutting boards. The used a machine to slice each board something like 80,000 times. They determined there was very little difference between the two types (end grain-face grain). They measured depth of damage on the boards and sharpness of the knives after every few thousand cuts.

The one point I disagreed with them was the use of oak. Apparently they didn't understand the difference between white oak and red oak, they lumped them together and said don't use it. I like quarter sawn white oak for cutting boards. After ten to fifteen years sand or plane it down a little and keep going. I have one board I made 40 years ago that still looks great.
 

Mike Davis

Mike
Corporate Member
I was mistaken, they tested 5,000 cuts and checked after every 200. No real difference in knife sharpness after 5,000 cuts.
They did find the softer wood causes more dulling possibly due to the damaged wood making a rougher surface.


Grain Style Can Affect Durability
The way a board is constructed, or its grain style, can also play a role in determining how well it resists damage over time. In particular, end-grain boards, which are made from blocks of wood with their grain exposed on the cutting surface—are potentially more vulnerable to cracking and splitting. When using an edge-grain board, your knife slices against the grain. When using an end-grain board, your knife slices with the blocks' exposed grain. (Some folks think this makes end-grain boards gentler on the knife, but in our robot testing, there was no clear difference in sharpness between knives used on end-grain boards and knives used on edge-grain boards.)

Ordinarily, you're cutting with such low force when performing ordinary kitchen cutting tasks that no real damage is done to the board. But if you make a forceful cut on an end-grain board—as you would when using a cleaver—you are at a greater risk of splitting down the grain line than you would be if you were using an edge-grain board. Senalik compares the process to chopping firewood; The easiest way to split a log is by chopping it on its end, with the grain, not on its side, against the grain. Indeed, when we hacked up chicken parts with a cleaver on each of the boards, the only board that cracked was an end-grain model. Cracks are worrisome not only because they forecast a shorter lifespan for the board but also because they can harbor bacteria.

End-grain boards also absorb more moisture than edge-grain boards, increasing their susceptibility to damage. Matt Huffman, furniture maker and member of Fort Point Cabinetmakers, explained: As each block or plank absorbs moisture (for example, while the board is being washed), it swells, pushing against the surrounding blocks or planks. And as it dries out, it shrinks, pulling away. This process of expansion and contraction changes the precise dimensions of the wood and stresses the glue joints that connect them, making it more likely that the pieces of wood, both block and plank, will separate. The more water the wood absorbs, the greater the expansion and contraction. This was the case with the end-grain board that cracked; it drank up water so quickly that we could barely blot it dry, and it ended up separating along many of its glue lines.

Huffman also explained that end-grain boards have one more issue: They consist of many different blocks of wood, and each block of wood expands and contracts in different directions. Good woodworkers can account for the movement of each block and compensate accordingly, but this doesn't always happen with mass-produced boards. As a result, edge-grain boards are often more durable than end-grain boards simply because they have fewer moving parts—literally—and fewer glue joints that can fail over time.
 

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