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cutting boards- open grain vs closed grain

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Forum topic by indychip posted 09-20-2017 02:23 PM 1437 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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indychip

79 posts in 1959 days


09-20-2017 02:23 PM

Question- I keep seeing posts that say closed grain is better than open due to fact open grain tends too hold the bacteria. I’m confused because I thought that wood wont allow the bacteria to grow, which in turn will kill the bacteria. With the exception of open grain allowing food particles to become trapped and the potential for more staining on open grain, should we (the woodworkers) worry about the bacteria in open grain woods such as ash or red oak? thanks


12 replies so far

View ArtMann's profile

ArtMann

686 posts in 653 days


#1 posted 09-20-2017 02:46 PM

I have never seen information from a reliable source that would lead me to believe that wood is a natural antibiotic. I have read this comment on forums a few times but I don’t yet believe it. I only use closed grain woods for cutting boards because foods are less likely to get lodged in the cell structure of the wood.

On the other hand, when I was growing up, there was a grocery store in my town that had a full service butcher on staff. He had this end grain butcher block that was at least a foot thick and was on legs. He cut hundreds of pounds of meat weekly. I don’t remember that he had any cleaning provisions for it other than a scraper. I am still alive so obviously it wasn’t all that bad.

View BurlyBob's profile

BurlyBob

5060 posts in 2103 days


#2 posted 09-20-2017 03:17 PM

I think another problem would be moisture weeping thru open grains causing expansion and contraction which could lead to the cutting board splitting. I’ve only ever used tight grain woods for cutting boards.

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Jack Lewis

208 posts in 915 days


#3 posted 09-20-2017 03:33 PM

My uncle always cleaned his butcher block with heavy doses of salt scrubbed vigorously into the surface. Hard for normal bacteria and mold to grow in that kind of environment.

-- "Now we are getting no where, thanks to me"

View jdh122's profile

jdh122

962 posts in 2655 days


#4 posted 09-20-2017 03:37 PM

This seems like a reliable source:
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1541-4337.12199/pdf


I have never seen information from a reliable source that would lead me to believe that wood is a natural antibiotic.

- ArtMann


-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

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splintergroup

1701 posts in 1060 days


#5 posted 09-20-2017 03:44 PM

With regards to red oak, I made a small “cheese board” from end grain red oak. As everyone knows, red oak is basically a bunch of straws bundled together. I saw a technique where someone placed a red oak end grain board into a shallow tray of polyurethane. The oak sucked up the poly until it started oozing out on the top surface, basically completely filling the pores 100%.

When I tried this, it worked so well the board survives dunking in soapy water and repeated cleanings.
Open grain does present the opportunity for better sealing since it will better hold any finish (and soak up mineral oil).

View William Shelley's profile

William Shelley

479 posts in 1307 days


#6 posted 09-20-2017 04:19 PM

Regarding finish penetration into cutting boards, has anyone tried using a combination of a finish “bath” inside of a vacuum chamber? Seems like the vacuum should help the finish penetrate deeper into the wood, even on smaller or closed-pore woods?

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

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splintergroup

1701 posts in 1060 days


#7 posted 09-20-2017 05:09 PM



Regarding finish penetration into cutting boards, has anyone tried using a combination of a finish “bath” inside of a vacuum chamber? Seems like the vacuum should help the finish penetrate deeper into the wood, even on smaller or closed-pore woods?

- William Shelley

I’ve done this with a mineral oil bath and an old veneering bag. It does work significantly faster than a bath alone, but I don’t know if it ends up working “better” (more penetration). It really feels that the main advantage is time.

Another in-between technique I have tried with success is heat. Basically heat up the wood to a modest temperature (maybe 125 Deg F) and then place the board into the bath. The cooling of the trapped air sucks in more finish/oil.

View Rick_M's profile (online now)

Rick_M

10631 posts in 2217 days


#8 posted 09-20-2017 06:24 PM

Here’s another
http://faculty.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/faculty/docliver/Research/cuttingboard.htm

Considering the popularity of end grain cutting boards I don’t think there is much to worry about with open grain woods. Personally I wouldn’t want a red oak cutting board but we used to have a white oak cutting board and it was fine. Now I have 2 wood cutting boards, one beech, the other I have no idea, both are great. The beech board has a hard finish, the other board has no finish. We also have some plastic boards but they are really chewed up from the knives and I don’t like them.


I have never seen information from a reliable source that would lead me to believe that wood is a natural antibiotic.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View ArtMann's profile

ArtMann

686 posts in 653 days


#9 posted 09-20-2017 06:28 PM

This is not a research study but rather a review of literature. Furthermore, it was published in what appears to be a trade publication rather than a scientific journal. These publications are not known for being without bias. Finally, a majority of the hard information that was noted refers to wood shipping vessels rather than cutting boards. That is an entirely different subject. Nevertheless, it was an interesting and informative read. Thanks.


This seems like a reliable source:
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1541-4337.12199/pdf

I have never seen information from a reliable source that would lead me to believe that wood is a natural antibiotic.

- ArtMann

- jdh122


View ksSlim's profile

ksSlim

1263 posts in 2727 days


#10 posted 09-20-2017 07:09 PM

I worked as a meat cutter thru high school and college.
When our cutting/chopping block needed refreshed, a woodworker brought in a router and jig to flatten.
He then used a hand torch to melt parafine/canning wax into it. Usually took 3-4 pounds.
We cleaned the top of the block with hand scrapers. Sanitize with food grade alcohol.

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

View Madmark2's profile

Madmark2

372 posts in 425 days


#11 posted 09-21-2017 12:14 AM

FDA specifically mentions ‘tight grained woods like hard maple” for cutting boards. Red oak is specificallynot reccomended not only for cutting boards but also for wet cooperage as red oad leaks!

M

View Carloz's profile

Carloz

976 posts in 429 days


#12 posted 09-29-2017 03:38 PM

It is not the wood that kills bacteria it is the oil the butcher blocks are soaked in. Oil does not let water (and especially organic liquid matter from meat and dairy) to get into the board so the bacteria has little to drink and eat.

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