Cutting Board - Sap Wood

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Forum topic by generic posted 05-12-2014 07:12 PM 2152 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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105 posts in 1567 days

05-12-2014 07:12 PM

I want to try my hand at making a cutting board. I have some black walnut lumber that has a good amount of sap wood in it and I was thinking about using that for my first try but when looking at the end grain, it seems like there are a lot of pores, especially in the sap wood. Will this be a problem?

11 replies so far

View WDHLT15's profile


1732 posts in 2445 days

#1 posted 05-13-2014 01:25 AM

The pores in walnut sapwood and heartwood are the same.

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

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 2927 days

#2 posted 05-13-2014 03:34 PM

I don’t do such products, but it is my understanding that the open pores of woods like black walnut and oak are more likely to absorb and not release food particles, creating a mold and health issue. It’s usage may be a factor in which wood you choose to use.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

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105 posts in 1567 days

#3 posted 05-13-2014 03:37 PM

I was under the impression that black walnut had closed pores and that is why so many people use it for cutting boards. Was my assumption wrong?

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105 posts in 1567 days

#4 posted 05-13-2014 05:10 PM

OK, I did some research and walnut is considered open pored. I am curious if it is open pored, how come it is so popular for end grain boards? well besides because of its color contrast….

View LiveEdge's profile


574 posts in 1589 days

#5 posted 05-13-2014 05:28 PM

There is some thought that the pores of endgrain help pull bacteria away from sitting on the surface. They are then killed by the natural antibacterial nature of the wood.

That’s the thought anyway. Walnut is a very popular endgrain cutting board wood.

View generic's profile


105 posts in 1567 days

#6 posted 05-27-2014 02:36 AM


This is my second board. When applying the first coat of mineral oil I noticed that the oil had soaked/flowed from the top of the board down through to the bottom (1.5” thick board) within 10 minutes. I can only assume through the pores. I put two coats of mineral oil followed by 2 coats of butcher block oil with bees wax. Should this board be scrapped or should I just tell whoever I give it to not to use it for meat? Or will the oil seal it so there won’t be any issues?

View derosa's profile


1572 posts in 2804 days

#7 posted 05-27-2014 02:46 AM

Just use it. I make all my boards with titebond III and when it is time to clean it just drop it in the sink and scrub it with the sponge, I use plenty of oak and haven’t noticed any smell and from what I’ve read the tannins in the wood do kill bacteria fairly quickly. No one I know has ever gotten sick from one of my boards to date and they all go to family and friends so I’d assume I’d have heard by now if it was a problem. My mother-in-law can be a clean freak and even she doesn’t have an issue using a board that has a lot of oak in it.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

View ChefHDAN's profile


1057 posts in 2818 days

#8 posted 05-27-2014 02:44 PM

Bacteria needs moisture along with an amenable temperature to be able to grow. LiveEdge is close to correct about the pores but it is because the nature of a wooden cutting board is that the pores permit the moisture to escape as opposed to the plastic and poly boards that are most commonly used in commercial applications. Several years ago the National Sanitation Foundation reversed their ruling on wooden cutting boards & utensils because research proved that the wooden items were MUCH less prone to harboring bacteria because of the inherent lack of moisture to promote growth and cross-contamination from potentially hazardous foods to ready to eat foods. Of course, poly boards are still cheaper than wood, and the wood ones get destroyed when they get run through a 190*f dishwasher so in the trade we now hang these poly boards so they can fully dry and not grow bacteria.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View TechTeacher04's profile


373 posts in 1500 days

#9 posted 05-27-2014 03:24 PM

Some people also have allergic reactions to the dust of black walnut. Invariably you will cross contaminate food with the wood. Not sure if that could cause a reaction by ingesting the wood particles.

View Steve Peterson's profile

Steve Peterson

371 posts in 3051 days

#10 posted 05-28-2014 04:30 AM

I have no comment about the safety of using walnut sapwood in a cutting board, but I must say “WOW what an incredible looking cutting board”. The contrast of sapwood and heartwood is amazing.

-- Steve

View Bill7255's profile


427 posts in 2253 days

#11 posted 05-28-2014 12:01 PM

I agree with ChefHDAN regarding bacteria with regard to cutting boards. I don’t think comparing wood dust to transfer from using a cutting board is a fair comparison. To me wood dust indicates some amount concentration of particles where as transfer from a cutting board is very minimal. IMO this is two different means of exposure. I have not found any research where a cutting board transfer has caused a reaction, however I am sure people with nut allergies avoid this and don’t want to test themselves to prove one way or another.
I believe you are more prone to transfer from face grain cutting boards than end grain cutting boards. The end grain cutting boards are preferred because they are not cutting into the wood where face grain is and your knives stay sharper longer.
That is a very beautiful board!

-- Bill R

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