Product Liability on cutting boards, etc?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Sweating for Bucks Through Woodworking forum

Forum topic by huff posted 09-22-2013 02:32 PM 2879 views 1 time favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3463 days

09-22-2013 02:32 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question zebrawood walnut teak padauk wenge purpleheart cocobolo bubinga hickory

I know we’ve talked about product liability on other aspects of woodworking here on LJ’s, but I don’t remember if cutting boards have been discussed much. (Product liability as far as type woods used, finishes, etc. What if a customer has an allergic reaction from one of the woods used or a type finish used on the boards)?

Does using walnut or hickory in a cutting board expose anyone that may be allergic to nuts to actually be affected?

It was a question presented to me by another LJ’er and I had never given it much thought.

Even though I always finished them with a food safe finish, it sure poses a good question…...what if someone actually had a reaction using one of our boards.

Does our typical liability insurance cover that? I doubt it.

If you look on Etsy and search hand made cutting boards; you will find over 10,000 boards available for sale. You have to wonder if anyone has given it much thought or check with any liability attorney’s for their input.

Anybody have much experience in this?

-- John @

28 replies so far

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29975 posts in 2516 days

#1 posted 09-22-2013 02:40 PM

I just made 4 cutting boards for a gentleman. 3 in black walnut and 1 cherry. The cherry was because a granddaughter has nut allergies and he didn’t want to take a chance on the wood. My understanding is that it is in the wood as well.

As far as liabilities, if you tell what the wood is up front, I would think that is all you need to do.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3463 days

#2 posted 09-22-2013 02:54 PM


Thanks for your input.

Back when I first started making them, that’s what I read; make sure you disclose what woods were used and the type finish, but I never actually talked to an attorney about it.

Most of the boards I ever built and sold were more for “Decor” and not actually to be used, but I still had a product information label made that explained the woods used, the finish used and the proper way to maintain them.

-- John @

View DocSavage45's profile


8706 posts in 3020 days

#3 posted 09-22-2013 03:13 PM

In a one to one customer driven purchase you have already negotiated the terms and conditions. You have made a “good faith” effort. I’m thinking purchasing a cutting board already made, at a show? I believe a content label such as in clothing would also be a “good faith” effort. Should a customer have a reaction.

Might even put a warning re: materials used have been known to cause allergic reactions.

It’s a sue happy word. And there are a lot of attorneys who are finding creative ways to make money.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3463 days

#4 posted 09-22-2013 03:39 PM

It’s a sue happy world. And there are a lot of attorneys who are finding creative ways to make money.

That’s the truth! When you can sue McDonalds and win a huge settlement because you spilt hot coffee on yourself and got burned!...................maybe they shouldn’t be allowed to drink coffee instead of rewarding them for being stupid. lol

-- John @

View mrg's profile


834 posts in 3177 days

#5 posted 09-22-2013 03:49 PM

Go into a store like William Sonama and look at the cutting boards. The packing says what they are made of and that is about it. If you follow what is on the labels of the larger manufactured boards you should be OK.

-- mrg

View Blackie_'s profile


4883 posts in 2690 days

#6 posted 09-22-2013 09:12 PM

I understood that once you put a finish on any wood it seals it, so I am curious as to how anyone could still develop a reaction? As for as finishes and FDA goes, I also understood and have read that most all finishes once they’ve cured they no loner pose a hazard, plus I’ve never heard of any news, or law suit in this regard or related.

How would anyone know or be able to prove it was the cutting board that caused their illness?

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

View prospector45's profile


150 posts in 1908 days

#7 posted 09-22-2013 09:40 PM

Blackie, most of the finishes I see on LJ for cutting boards is mineral oil And beeswax. That finish does wear off with use and washing. I would think that the large retailers are going to demand product liability no matter what the product. Think deep pockets.
This is good topic to pursue. In Ohio it would cost $400+ to form an LLC. That would include additional agreements to show that the individual is “leasing” the equipment to the LLC. That is a hefty sum for the hobbiest/small business.

Would the homeowners insurance provide coverage?

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2464 days

#8 posted 09-22-2013 09:54 PM

I found this, which says it’s safe along with legal speak cya and all that.

“Walnut wood and several other woods have small amounts of juglone, but much lower amounts than other plant parts, for example nuts, bark, and roots. The potential for toxicity should be minimal in cutting boards, which are dried. Juglone is not very soluble in water, so I would not expect it to come out of cutting boards and into food very easily. I would think that the concern for toxicity from this source would be minimal, but again, we have no direct research and I am not aware of any specifically on this topic. However, if you are cutting the wood and there is sawdust, then protection from the sawdust is in order.

Best wishes,

Brad Hillman”

Bradley I. Hillman, Ph.D.

Director of Research
New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station;
Professor, Plant Biology and Pathology
Rutgers University
New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Office: 104 Martin Hall
88 Lipman Drive

Lab: 339 Foran Hall
59 Dudley Road
932-9375 X 333

Mobile: 609-933-9049
Fax: 866-365-7736

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View JoeinGa's profile


7739 posts in 2185 days

#9 posted 09-22-2013 10:24 PM

I should think that if a person has nut allergies and they are looking at buying cutting boards, they would KNOW to stay away from boards made from “nut” trees. If they were dumb enough to buy one anyway, and get sick, it would be pretty easy for your lawyer to say “This person KNEW they had nut allergies, yet they bought a cutting board from my client KNOWING it was made from a (insert nut of choice here) tree.

Case dismissed!

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Wildwood's profile


2450 posts in 2312 days

#10 posted 09-22-2013 11:06 PM

Allergies are funny most people associate them with children. Many children do outgrow their allergies, and some do not. Adult acquired allergies stay with people the rest of their lives.

Adults and children may be allergic to nuts but not wood or allergic to wood but not nuts. Then have those people allergic to both nuts and wood.

People may not be allergic to wood you use to make your cutting boards, but may or may not have a reaction to Tung or Walnut oil finish.

Think only real problem is adults not knowing they are allergic to wood. Not sure if that creates or releases you from any liability or not but by labeling you are practicing due diligence.

Peanuts, Nut, and Wood allergies are all different, doctors cannot tell you or know why some people bothered by one and not the other and some people bothered by everything.

-- Bill

View Blackie_'s profile


4883 posts in 2690 days

#11 posted 09-22-2013 11:45 PM

I don’t make cutting boards but…. I do however make functional wood beer mugs (Stein) and I use a two part 30 min epoxy that I get from the hobby store, Hobby Town USA to line the inside of the mug with, that being said I’m not going to fork out the $$$ for an LLC that’s why I optioned from a DB instead and I know I’m not covered but what can I do? I don’t think I have to worry about the epoxy.

As for as cutting boards go, etc…. you’d thing there would/should be a statue of limitations on the time line, not sure what that’d be but over a period of time in the event something you sold were to cause an issue be it several years down the road would/could you still be held liable ?

it all still lies in the burden of proof.

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

View Knothead62's profile


2598 posts in 3139 days

#12 posted 09-23-2013 12:08 AM

I would contact a lawyer before I went any farther with this idea. Also, ask about the liability of an LLC, sole proprietorship, etc. I was told by a lawyer/CPA that you pay personal income tax PLUS corporate tax.

View DocSavage45's profile


8706 posts in 3020 days

#13 posted 09-23-2013 01:53 AM

Having done Subchapter S corporations in the past, It is only a tax benefit and not protection from liability. Insurance covers that. I had to stop my handyman services when the liability was more than I was making???? LOL!

Homeowner policies are specific to the home, and may not cover many things. Not even your shop equipment. Please read it carefully. You can talk to an insurance agent who knows liability issues?

Google local laws regarding liability issues. Disclaimers are the way to CYA. Ever watch any woodworking video that you purchase or put out by a professional? disclaimers!!!!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View rustfever's profile


759 posts in 3488 days

#14 posted 09-23-2013 02:45 AM

Anyone can sue anyone for any reason. Many lawyers will take on any client hoping for a big settlement.
Good Luck!

-- Rustfever, Central California

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3463 days

#15 posted 09-23-2013 03:03 AM

Doc makes a good point about Homeowner policies and that is they are specific to the home. The liability part for the homeowner would be for that only; that is if someone got hurt while at your home or something like that.

An Insurance agent would be the best to get the facts on what types of liability insurance’s there are and what each will cover.

I operated my business as an LLC for years, but eventually went back to being a sole proprietor. My attorney didn’t feel it gave me that big of an advantage being an LLC. An LLC is exactly what it says; it’s a Limited Liability Company so it only protects you to a point.

Like rustfever stated; anyone can sue anyone for any reason. I’ve never heard of anyone being sued pertaining to a cutting board, but thought it would be of interest to woodworkers what others thought and may have run into with their experiences.

-- John @

showing 1 through 15 of 28 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics