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Woods to use/avoid for cutting boards

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Forum topic by pariswoodworking posted 06-12-2012 08:39 AM 5004 views 1 time favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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pariswoodworking

380 posts in 1142 days


06-12-2012 08:39 AM

I have never made a cutting board, and I want to change that within the next few weeks. I know some woods like oak and hickory are not good choices because they have an open grain, and some other species are toxic, but what specifically should I use, and what should I avoid?

Here are a few wood’s I’d like to use (not all on the same one), are they safe?

Maple (obviously safe :D)
Cherry
Walnut
Mahogany
Bloodwood
Butternut
Ash
Aromatic Cedar
Poplar

Also, what should I finish it with? Boiled Linseed Oil?

Thanks

-- Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. -- Albert Einstein


15 replies so far

View shopdog's profile

shopdog

562 posts in 2143 days


#1 posted 06-12-2012 12:15 PM

butternut, cedar and poplar are too soft.
Ash has open grain.
I use Ipe on many of my boards, and maple, cherry and walnut.

-- Steve-- http://www.urbanexteriors.biz

View KenBry's profile

KenBry

449 posts in 1104 days


#2 posted 06-12-2012 12:21 PM

Your wood choices need to be based around the characteristics of the woods. You want a dense wood with little in the way of natrual oils or odor.

Wood Hardness Chart
http://tinytimbers.com/janka.htm

Here is a wood Toxicity chart for you:
http://www.woodworkerssource.com/toxicity_list.php

The best finish is a Salad bowl finish or just plain mineral oil. BOL is NOT a good choice.

-- Ken, USAF MSgt, Ret.

View mafe's profile

mafe

9549 posts in 1746 days


#3 posted 06-12-2012 12:37 PM

Thank you Ken for the info.
Best thoughts,
Mads

-- Mad F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View pariswoodworking's profile

pariswoodworking

380 posts in 1142 days


#4 posted 06-12-2012 12:40 PM

Ok, I’ll see if I can find some salad bowl finish around here, if not, I’ll get the mineral oil.

I love the color of bloodwood, how oily is it?

Thanks for the tips, I’ll avoid softer woods.

-- Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. -- Albert Einstein

View Ken Dolph's profile

Ken Dolph

15 posts in 1820 days


#5 posted 06-12-2012 12:47 PM

Stay away from walnut.

Some people have a violent allergic reaction to it. This is not real common but it can kill those who are allergic. I talked to a woman who was rushed to the hospital while picking out wood with her husband.

-- Ken Dolph, Corian Master http://sites.google.com/site/coriartinc/

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

2528 posts in 1008 days


#6 posted 06-12-2012 12:49 PM

Mahogany is pretty soft too and expensive. If I were going to spend that kind of money I would look at purple heart and paduak as either is harder and more durable. Another thing to consider is that some people are allergic to nuts and for that reason walnut may not be a good choice.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View pariswoodworking's profile

pariswoodworking

380 posts in 1142 days


#7 posted 06-12-2012 12:49 PM

Wow, that’s bad, but couldn’t the same thing be said for pretty much every kind of wood there is?

-- Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. -- Albert Einstein

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pariswoodworking

380 posts in 1142 days


#8 posted 06-12-2012 12:52 PM

I did a little research, and found that bloodwood has been used in cutting boards before, so for my first one, I’ll probably go with maple, bloodwood, and possibly cherry. :D

-- Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. -- Albert Einstein

View Ken Dolph's profile

Ken Dolph

15 posts in 1820 days


#9 posted 06-12-2012 12:54 PM

I suppose you are right but tree nut allergies are somewhat common.

-- Ken Dolph, Corian Master http://sites.google.com/site/coriartinc/

View tyskkvinna's profile

tyskkvinna

1308 posts in 1643 days


#10 posted 06-12-2012 12:55 PM

Yeah I always get anxious when I see people make walnut cutting boards. Sadly, I know a few people have come into my shop and I show them the pretty wood and they don’t realise “walnut wood” is the same thing as “walnut nuts”... or more specifically, that an allergy to one equals an allergy to the other.

It’s the only wood that has a very well-known and large allergy pool. Others, like rosewood, woodworkers can easily develop an allergy to after working it but the average person keeping a cutting board in their house is unlikely to encounter such ailments from the board.

I would like to second avoiding mahogany, butternut and cedar. Purpleheart and paduak are great choices! And yellowheart. Maybe holly?

-- Lis - Michigan - http://www.missmooseart.com - https://www.etsy.com/people/lisbokt

View pariswoodworking's profile

pariswoodworking

380 posts in 1142 days


#11 posted 06-12-2012 01:06 PM

Thanks for the advice everyone, I’ll avoid walnut, and soft woods. I may get a piece of paduak for my first cutting board instead of cherry.

-- Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. -- Albert Einstein

View AandCstyle's profile

AandCstyle

1325 posts in 914 days


#12 posted 06-13-2012 12:20 AM

If you look at the wood toxicity chart posted by KenBry, you will notice that maple is a more potent sensitizer than walnut. I know that walnut allergy can be extremely severe, perhaps fatal, but I think you need to be aware of the potential issues and ensure that any potential users of your products are aware as well so they can make informed decisions. FWIW

-- Art

View Philzoel's profile

Philzoel

276 posts in 1000 days


#13 posted 06-13-2012 12:47 AM

Maple, cherry, walnut and purple-hart are fine for end grain cutting board. They are small pored and hard. open pored makes for soft and porous board. I have made 30 or so out of these and they work really well.

I finish all boards now with salad bowl or butcher block finish, but cut it 50% mineral spirits so it soaks in. You do nor want finish that builds up. Cuts too easy.

-- Phil Zoeller louisville, KY

View MNgary's profile

MNgary

235 posts in 1074 days


#14 posted 06-13-2012 01:29 AM

I don’t think you can go wrong by selecting food grade mineral oil for finishing. I apply 3 heavy coats (wrapping the first two with plastic wrap overnight). Also, so the end-user knows how to maintain, I include a couple ounces of mineral oil with a note on refreshing the wood periodically.

For the couple ounces I use those little bottles purchased to hold liquid soap for making bubbles at a wedding ceremony.

For the note I print a “tag” with blah blah r.e. handcrafted on one side and maintenance instructions on the other. I use curling ribbon to attach the tag to the bottle.

-- I dream of the world where a duck can cross the road and no one asks why.

View Bobmedic's profile

Bobmedic

302 posts in 1459 days


#15 posted 06-13-2012 07:31 AM

Walnut will work fine, especially if you use salad bowl finish on it. The only difference between salad bowl finish and polyurethane is that it is cut with mineral spirits by about 50% and has less dryers in it. Don’t spend big money on “Butcher Block Oil”. Go to your local pharmacy or grocery store and get mineral oil it is the same thing. The allergies encountered by nuts can be severe but the amount of exposure from a sealed/cured cutting board are so minuscule it’s unlikely to cause a problem. The amount of people that have those types of reactions is really small too. So I say go ahead and make your boards out of walnut, I do, the combination of maple and walnut in an end grain cutting board is phenomenal. My wife uses this one all the time and she is allergic to walnuts and it is made from walnut and ambrosia maple.

-- Save lives, ease suffering, reduce morbidity and mortality, stomp out pestilence and disease, postpone the inevitable, and fake compassion. The Paramedics Creed

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