Suitability of Oak & poplar for end grain cutting boards?


Corporate Member
Normally I wouldn't consider this but culling through my off-cuts I've got a lot of this and can't think of anything else to do with them. Not worried about aesthetics as would mix in other woods. Worried about open grain of Oak and softness of poplar.

Roy G

Senior User
Remember Roy Underhill showing how you can blow air through a piece of red oak? And they make whiskey barrels out of white oak. I use poplar for drawer sides and face frames for painted bookcases.

Roy G

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
Consider hard maple.

From the net.

Sanitary and Clean
The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) approves maple for commercial kitchen use. John Boos is an example of a cutting board maker whose line of maple cutting boards are specifically certified by the NSF. Maple, and other woods are a safe option for inhibiting bacterial growth around food. Though it may seem counter intuitive to choose a wooden surface that can’t be heat sterilized over a plastic surface that can, the proof is in the science. Wooden boards use capillary action to absorb bad bugs from the cutting surface pores. Once bacteria is trapped inside the wood’s cells it suffocates, cut-off from the oxygen it needs to survive.

Plastic vs Wood
Plastic is not self-healing, like wood, and therefor once a plastic board has been nicked there is a place for bacteria to dwell until it has been thoroughly sanitized. Though there was a brief time in the last few decades when wood was all but banned from commercial kitchen use, the NSF now approves the use of Hard Rock Maple in commercial kitchens and chefs are not shying away from it. Cleaned and cared for properly, maple is an excellent and safe option for food preparation.


Board of Directors, Treasurer
Staff member
Corporate Member
I use white oak. You can have interesting patterns with the radials.
Last edited:


New User
I've use red oak cutting boards for decades. If youre worried about bacteria, the CDC recommends 1 tablespoon of bleach to 1 quart of water for dis-infecting. I wash mine with warm soapy water and wipe excess water and let dry.


Corporate Member
I have made RO end grain boards and sealed the open grain with clear epoxy. Using a bondo spreader to force the epoxy into voids before a final sanding.


Well I've been involved in the production of maybe well over 5000 cutting boards that have white oak in them. It will work, grain raising and splits are the worst in it tho.

Our Sponsors