Is red oak safe for end grain cutting boards

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Forum topic by KnifeLife posted 05-16-2011 04:55 PM 29235 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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14 posts in 2778 days

05-16-2011 04:55 PM

I saw a coment that Red Oak is NOT safe for cutting boards (end grain or Long grain) anyone got an opinion on this. I have been using all kinds of oar red and white for years and have had no problems with it actually it seems hard to get it to take oil when your curing it

14 replies so far

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 3050 days

#1 posted 05-16-2011 05:36 PM

Red oak is so longitudinally porous that you can breathe through it. The indicates to me a wonderful warm place for bacteria to gather, well out of sight. I wouldn’t use it at all for a cutting board.

Stick to the accepted choices which include maple and cherry.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View KnifeLife's profile


14 posts in 2778 days

#2 posted 05-16-2011 05:40 PM

I found this online so I am confused

View christopheralan's profile


1126 posts in 3920 days

#3 posted 05-16-2011 06:00 PM

I wouldn’t use it; too porous. I think that many people who know little about woodwork hold red-oak as the “wood to end all woods.” I have met my fair share who say, ”...its solid red-oak, it must be great!”

There are far better woods out there that I would rather use. Good luck!

-- christopheralan

View childress's profile


841 posts in 3742 days

#4 posted 05-16-2011 08:36 PM

Red oak is perfectly “safe” to use. Just not recommended by many because it’s open grain. Most don’t realize that there is a difference between “open grain” and “porous”. All hardwoods are porous by definition and some woods have bigger pores than others. White oak has large pores but is closed grained due to the tyloses in it (That’s why it’s used for whiskey and wine barrels). Red oak is “open grained” with large pores, which is why it’s frowned upon in the cutting board world. I don’t believe bacteria can survive long on any wood so I wouldn’t worry too much from that standpoint. My guess would be that the biggest problem is having juices and such get soaked in too deep causing stains and odors to linger. I would just make sure you seal the wood as best as possible and the most common way to do that is with beeswax. Beeswax is the most common wax with food prepping tools….

My $.02

-- Childress Woodworks

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14 posts in 2778 days

#5 posted 05-17-2011 01:31 PM

I dont use Red Oak for conventional cutting boards. I did want to use it for a butcherblock island top but I think I will use something like hickory bnecause the color is more like what I want

View pvwoodcrafts's profile


244 posts in 4121 days

#6 posted 05-17-2011 02:35 PM

My $.02 worth. we have been using a red oak cutting board for nearly 20 years. use it for meat , veg and anything else.To my knowledge none of the family has had as much as a belly ache because of it. Doesn’t mean it can’t happen , just hasn’t made us any problems.

-- mike & judy western md. www.

View KnifeLife's profile


14 posts in 2778 days

#7 posted 05-17-2011 02:38 PM

I actually have access to some FREE solid 3X3X48 inch red Oak stock That I might use for the Island top it would make an awsome end grain Butcher block

View zindel's profile


257 posts in 2850 days

#8 posted 05-17-2011 03:00 PM

My advice is that the wood shouldn’t matter as long as you pick the correct type of finish. I would say with red oak or any wood that is so open grained, don’t use things like wax or oil as your only finish, its just not enough to keep it water tight. I would suggest using a lot and i mean like 6 or 7 coats of salad bowl finish to make sure that it is fully water tight. I had a few cutting boards that the had a few holes in them due to not the best fit (my bad) but they filled in with some saw dust/glue/ and salad bowl finish and they are 100% water tight. Plus it adds a great finish to any wood.

-- If you can't fix it with a hammer, You've got an electrical problem.

View Jon Spelbring's profile

Jon Spelbring

199 posts in 4453 days

#9 posted 05-17-2011 07:24 PM

Red Oak? Burns purty. That’s the only use I have for it.

-- To do is to be

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4514 days

#10 posted 05-18-2011 06:53 PM

Some times we think too much. The factory raised meat you buy is much more likely to kill you than a bit of Oak.
Oak is a wonderful wood. We’ve just seen so much of it in cheap crap that we forget it’s potential.

View Dottie's profile


1 post in 1397 days

#11 posted 02-14-2015 03:26 PM

View TexasAggies's profile


6 posts in 1032 days

#12 posted 02-15-2016 06:33 AM

It’s not safe at all. You might not get sick from it, but you might not get sick either if you lick a parking lot.

Like others have said, oak is a cheap open grain wood. There is a reason why boos doesn’t sell oak boards.

-- My products use processes known to the state of California to dissect trees. --

View sbuckle's profile


69 posts in 2238 days

#13 posted 02-15-2016 07:20 AM

I have made cutting boards from many different hardwoods and exotics and I have made many boards out of red oak. As a business owner I am more concerned about my customers perceptions and I only use Red Oak for long grained or edge grained boards. The long grained boards are generally only cheese boards that don’t get a lot of heavy cutting. My end grained boards have to have tight grain and the perception of food getting stuck in the end isn’t good for business. An open grain is much harder to clean properly!

One man’s opinion!!

-- Thanks for looking! Steve B.

View tbone's profile


276 posts in 3884 days

#14 posted 02-17-2016 09:42 PM

For what it’s worth, the FDA recommends only “hard maple or an equivalently hard close-grained wood”

-- Kinky Friedman: "The first thing I'll do if I'm elected is demand a recount."

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