carved cutting board food safety

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Forum topic by InsideTheBox posted 10-22-2014 02:35 AM 714 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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89 posts in 1096 days

10-22-2014 02:35 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question cutting board pyrographics carving woodburning

Hi fellow Lumberjocks!

A friend asked me to make a cutting board as a gift for her husband. She is set on the idea of having his initial burned or carved into the board. I think she isn’t expecting my usual design, but just wants something plain, with a big initial.

If you carve or burn an initial into the surface, does anyone know how safe that is for food use? Or… maybe I should consider an inlay? I just have visions of all kinds of bacteria collecting in it, especially if it’s burned in…. (?!?)

-- There's no such thing as a mistake; only a quick change of plans.

3 replies so far

View Yonak's profile


979 posts in 943 days

#1 posted 10-22-2014 02:47 AM

I would consider a way where the surface is flat (inlay or glue-ups). Recesses in the surface seems like you’re adding a significant degree of difficulty of use. That is, unless they plan to only use one side of the board, halving the functionality. For many people, that’s not at all an issue.

View Jerry's profile


1710 posts in 1070 days

#2 posted 10-22-2014 06:11 AM

Any cutting board is likely to be washed after each use, at least that is what I do, so it’s probably not an issue. All of the woods in the pine family are naturally antiseptic, and require little care for them to remain bacteria free, as long as they are not sealed. That being said the practicalities dictate that anything carved in will likely get broken down under the knife, so branding would be preferable for longevity. I think you could either brand it with a wood burning tool or do an inlay..either one would work well, but I don’t think carving would last.

-- There are good ships and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships and may they always be.

View ChefHDAN's profile


798 posts in 2271 days

#3 posted 10-22-2014 11:30 AM

Within the past several years NSF lifted the ban of wooden cutting boards in commercial kitchens because studies proved that the ability of wood to absorb moisture that could be trapped in any micro crevices caused by the cutting action of blades. Bacteria cannot grow in the absence of moisture and any wood board left with the ability to dry will do so defeating bacteria growth. Nowadays the most common item cited in a kitchen by a health inspector is scarred and worn polypropylene cutting boards that trap water and since they cannot absorb the moisture, they mold, stink, and propagate a variety of yeast cultures that can make folks pretty sick if the foods that contact them do not get cooked properly.

All of that said, the hundreds of years that wooden boards have been used are proof enough for me that they are the best for use, and in my kitchen at home the plastic boards are only used for meats and seafood or other “stinky” items that can be resolved by running the boards through the dishwasher on high temp sanitizing mode and permitted to fully air dry in a vertical position before being stored in the cabinet.

In your situation there is no issue (in my opinion) with the carving / burning provided you cut a cove or V groove that could be easily cleaned with a brush or scotch-brite. Think of the blood/juice grooves often cut into wooden cutting boards, check my projects you’ll see one with a groove at the perimeter with a catch basin in a corner. Regarding choice of materials and assembly the best choice for durability and longevity is a hardwood arranged with an end grain cutting surface so that the knife is actually slicing between the wood fibers rather than cutting the long fibers if assembled long grain. Both will work for the application but long grain will need to be resurfaced at least 4 times more often

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

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