Is oak suitable for a cutting board?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Wood & Lumber forum

Forum topic by Purrmaster posted 10-04-2013 06:42 AM 3367 views 2 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Purrmaster's profile


915 posts in 2335 days

10-04-2013 06:42 AM

I was checking on cutting boards for sale on line. And I noticed there were several made of oak.

My understanding is that you don’t want to use a porous wood like oak on cutting boards. The reason being that bacteria and ick can get into the pores.

On the other hand I’ve never heard of anyone dying from using an oak board.

The only woods I’ve read that are suitable for cutting boards are walnut, purpleheart, cherry, and maple. Especially maple.

But come on, that can’t be it. I think I could even make a case for softer woods being used like alder, on the theory that those woods would be easier on knives.

Also, I made a cutting board of purpleheart and every time it gets wet it smells like moldy cheese. But it’s tough stuff.

9 replies so far

View Loco's profile


210 posts in 1991 days

#1 posted 10-04-2013 10:10 AM

Oak is fine. Let’s get rid of some mythology.

-- What day is it ? No matter. Ummmm What month is it ? No moron. I paid for a 2 x 6. That means Two inches by six inches. I want the rest of my wood.

View mtenterprises's profile


933 posts in 2935 days

#2 posted 10-04-2013 12:01 PM

Oak has the greatest amount of tanic acid which kills germs.

-- See pictures on Flickr - And visit my Facebook page -

View Purrmaster's profile


915 posts in 2335 days

#3 posted 10-04-2013 12:25 PM

Really? Wow, I had no idea. I had read that maple is supposed to have antimicrobial properties so I’ve tended towards maple.

If oak is ok I’m assuming that woods like ash and hickory would also be okay?


View mahdee's profile


4045 posts in 2009 days

#4 posted 10-04-2013 12:31 PM

Oak makes a great butcher block as well. I made a countertop butcher block for our kitchen 22 years ago and despite all the use and abuse, it still looks and functions great.


View johnstoneb's profile


3072 posts in 2414 days

#5 posted 10-04-2013 12:47 PM

Thanks for the articles Loco. Very interesting reading and they debunk all the myths that are posted above.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View jmartel's profile


8295 posts in 2392 days

#6 posted 10-04-2013 02:33 PM

It’s not the bacteria as stated. It’s the fact that you get food in there and you can’t clean the pores out. Then the food goes bad and smells bad. I don’t use it for that, and because frankly I don’t really care for oak very much.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2528 days

#7 posted 10-04-2013 03:53 PM

I would avoid making an end grain cutting board out of oak. It’s like a bundle of straws. I tried making a flute once out of oak and it actually leaked air.

It has already been proven that a used any-kind-of-plastic cutting board holds more stuff than a wood board and is pretty much impossible to clean. The inevitable cuts hold all kinds of stuff.

I’ll dispell another myth right here and now. A properly maintained wood cutting board will not hold food that goes bad and starts to stink. I have boards over 30 years old as examples. :) If a wood board stinks, you aren’t cleaning it properly. NO chemicals. Just salt and a tiny bit of water or lemon juice. Heck, cut a lemon in half, put some salt on the board, and scrub the salt into it using the lemon.

Any tight grained wood can be used for a cutting board.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a poly board I used for a quick chop or dice. I much prefer my wood boards though. Right now they are all kinda big (like 2 ft square and inch and a half thick) so the wife doesn’t like to heft them around. I might cut one down…

View vipond33's profile


1405 posts in 2739 days

#8 posted 10-04-2013 11:24 PM

White oak is fine, hell they make wine and whiskey barrels out of it, so it sure doesn’t allow any moisture migration.
Red oak’s another story. You can blow smoke through 12” of the stuff.
One is a closed cell structure, the other is wide open.

-- gene@toronto.ontario.canada : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

View Purrmaster's profile


915 posts in 2335 days

#9 posted 10-05-2013 12:20 AM

Interesting information. Thank you very much. I should have specified that I was indeed thinking of white oak, not red oak. I was thinking of throwing one together out of Oregon white oak since it’s a local wood (or at least the name implies so). I like the color contrasts.

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