American Ash and Oak for cutting boards ??

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Forum topic by roer posted 09-03-2010 04:36 PM 10874 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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66 posts in 3232 days

09-03-2010 04:36 PM


Are American Ash and American Oak good wood for making cutting boards ?? It seems that they are very seldomly used for this purpose. Maple seems to be the preferred choice, but I have a lot of Ash and Oak I would like to use.

8 replies so far

View lew's profile


12051 posts in 3748 days

#1 posted 09-03-2010 05:01 PM

The porous nature of oak has a tendency to trap and hold debris. This can make it unattractive for cutting boards- especially end grain type.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

5851 posts in 3187 days

#2 posted 09-03-2010 05:23 PM


Actually, the best woods for cutting boards are Maple, Walnut, Purpleheart, and any wood that does not have a big open grain and porous…... Like Lew said, oak and ash are so much alike in nature, they’re not good.
I have not used, but have heard about others that have used Bloodwood, but some people have a reaction to the wooddust. Some may also have a reaction to Walnut….it depends on the person, and especially someone with allergies…..... Not good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

-- " At my age, happy hour is a crap and a nap".....

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 2951 days

#3 posted 09-03-2010 05:27 PM

I would think it necessary to carefully consider using ash as well, as it is quite lightweight; you could end up making one larger than typical, making it much easier to swing at you with by a wife that didn’t appreciate your having bought a new table saw without talking with her about it first. I still have lumps.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3279 days

#4 posted 09-03-2010 10:08 PM

I might use ash, but would not consider oak. As lew said, it is too porus, but if used as a cutting board, it will splinter as you cut into it. Use a tighter grain wood. I prefer hard maple. Our island is a buther block used for cutting all the time. It works great. That’s why the real butcher blocks you buy are generally maple.


View Jonathan's profile


2608 posts in 3043 days

#5 posted 09-03-2010 10:31 PM

I know a lot of people use purpleheart for cutting boards. With that being said, it is my personal preference to stay away from it, as I feel it is too hard, leading to dulling your knives faster.

The two things I feel are both important in the wood you choose for a cutting board (assuming it’s actually going to be cut on) are:
1. The grain structure of the wood. Is it more open grained, or a tighter grain? You want a tighter grain wood as it’s less prone to trap food particles. Think of it as a tighter ‘weave”.
2. Hardness of the wood, quantified on the Janka Scale. Woods such as maple (hard, preferably, but soft will also work), walnut, cherry, mahogany, etc. are not only tighter grained woods, thus fulfilling the 1st requirement, but they also have “good” numbers on the Janka Scale. They’re not too soft, but they’re not too hard either, so they’re not going to dull your knives like some of the exotics will that some people use. If you look at somebody that makes cutting boards for a living, such as BoardSMITH, he keeps all his woods within the Janka Hardness of 850-1600. He uses the woods I listed above.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 3780 days

#6 posted 09-04-2010 04:35 AM

White oak is fine for cutting boards. The tannic acid kills bacteria and the capillaries in the wood are halted, stopping absorbtion. Red oak, however, has continuous capillaries and is not good for a cutting board. Most cutting/chopping boards of white oak are of the long grain variety, not end grain. If you go to a pig-pickin’ or hog barbeque in the south, you will find most of the meat is chopped up on white oak, long grained boards.


-- Go

View rbterhune's profile


176 posts in 3214 days

#7 posted 09-15-2010 05:32 PM

Avoid both for bacteria reasons.

View HorizontalMike's profile


7754 posts in 2907 days

#8 posted 09-15-2010 06:55 PM

For a more complete understanding of bacteria on cutting boards, may I suggest this article?

In summation, both plastic and wooden cutting boards carry bacteria. Wood is better than plastic. Don’t forget to bleach the cutting board after each use/cleaning.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

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