Making cutting board...concerned about toxic wood!

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Forum topic by Al posted 11-29-2011 11:34 PM 6622 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Al's profile


25 posts in 2825 days

11-29-2011 11:34 PM

As I begin my cutting board project I was told that some woods are toxic and not fit for food contact. I want to chose form a list such as…walnut, rosewood, purpleheart,bubingna,ebony, mahogany, maple and oak. Any info regarding these wood species, or any others, being toxic? Thanks for the assist.


-- Al Meriden, Connecticut

4 replies so far

View WDHLT15's profile


1562 posts in 1896 days

#1 posted 11-30-2011 04:19 AM

Walnut, maple, and oak are native woods and are not toxic. I cannot speak to the exotics.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 2378 days

#2 posted 12-01-2011 01:51 AM

Pacific yew and some willows have a toxin in them, I know there are others as well. I saw a list once, there were about 20 trees to avoid. Another thing to watch is an open grain in your wood choice, it can absorb meat juice and cause you all kinds of troubles.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 2470 days

#3 posted 12-01-2011 05:35 AM

As a general rule, you would be fine with maple, cherry, walnut, beech, or hickory. Oaks and ash, sycamore, and most other domestic hardwoods are too open grain as Nomad advised. Too many places for bacteria to hide. Exotics have extractives that can cause serious problems. For example; all Dalbergias (rosewoods), purpleheart, bubinga can cause problems. An exception would be for a board used only for bread or cheese whitch limits exposure of the food to the extractives and thus transference of them to the food.

Lots of people make decorative cutting boards with all kinds of exotics that would never be used for food processing. If making utility boards for general food use, including cutting meats and raw vegatables and fruits, you are best to stick with maple, cherry, walnut or any CLOSE-GRAINED domestic hardwood.

If you have any doubts about the properties of the woods you choose or their fitness for a specific use, check sources such as or Both are excellent sources and there are many others.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View lespaul123's profile


6 posts in 1788 days

#4 posted 12-02-2011 04:16 AM

I have worked with all of the woods suggested and many others. I will only comment on the woods I have had a little bit of trouble with as far as allergies go. Snakewood- this stuff made my nose run and eyes tear up a little when cutting it. No rashes or anything crazy but a little bit of a nuisance. Cocobolo makes me sneeze here and there a little more than average for me. African Mahogany is also another nasal irritant. I think those are the only three that I would mention something about everything else I have used has not really been much of an issue. Truthfully as long as you wear a mask you should be fine. With that being said I never wear a mask and haven’t had much trouble. O one more thing I just remembered the guys at my work really do not like makore. I have not had any issue with this stuff but they sneeze like crazy when sanding it.

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