First cutting board - test project only - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 06-28-2017, 05:56 PM Thread Starter
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First cutting board - test project only

Before I started on a real cutting board made from more expensive woods like black walnut, hard maple, or accented with purple heart I decided to try my hand with a test project. I had some 1" x 2" red oak from Home Depot/Lowes left over from a different project so I used it. I know it can't be used for a cutting board as it's too porous. But as I said, this was a test project to learn how to use my jointer and thickness planer along with the joys of gluing up and finishing a cutting board. I've learned a lot so far and will definitely put that knowledge to use when I pick up some nice hard woods this weekend.

The first picture is the board at it's final dimension of about 11" x 16.5". I crosscut 18" strips of the 1" x 2" red oak, jointed them, and glued them up. The board was basically flat so I then thickness planed both sides. Finally I crosscut each end to square everything up. Next I sanded with 150 grit and paper. The second image is of the end grains end. Overall I was quite happy with my first attempt given how well the boards fit together and glued up.

I then used a 1/4" round over router bit along the top and bottom edges. This was followed by sanding with 220 and then 400 grit then all the dust was blown off. I learned that I now need to make a DIY downdraft sanding table!

The next two images are a couple hours after finishing with mineral oil. It still needs a bit longer to dry out. I won't apply anymore as this is simply a test project with wood not suited for cutting boards. But I feel confident enough now to try my hand at a real cutting board from nicer and more appropriate woods.
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post #2 of 9 Old 07-20-2017, 10:25 PM
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Originally Posted by JBrianBaker View Post
Before I started on a real cutting board made from more expensive woods like black walnut, hard maple, or accented with purple heart I decided to try my hand with a test project. I had some 1" x 2" red oak from Home Depot/Lowes left over from a different project so I used it. I know it can't be used for a cutting board as it's too porous. But as I said, this was a test project to learn how to use my jointer and thickness planer along with the joys of gluing up and finishing a cutting board. I've learned a lot so far and will definitely put that knowledge to use when I pick up some nice hard woods this weekend.

The first picture is the board at it's final dimension of about 11" x 16.5". I crosscut 18" strips of the 1" x 2" red oak, jointed them, and glued them up. The board was basically flat so I then thickness planed both sides. Finally I crosscut each end to square everything up. Next I sanded with 150 grit and paper. The second image is of the end grains end. Overall I was quite happy with my first attempt given how well the boards fit together and glued up.

I then used a 1/4" round over router bit along the top and bottom edges. This was followed by sanding with 220 and then 400 grit then all the dust was blown off. I learned that I now need to make a DIY downdraft sanding table!

The next two images are a couple hours after finishing with mineral oil. It still needs a bit longer to dry out. I won't apply anymore as this is simply a test project with wood not suited for cutting boards. But I feel confident enough now to try my hand at a real cutting board from nicer and more appropriate woods.
Wow, this looks great! The rounded edges add a nice touch to the board. In fact, I just made one out of red oak, too. Not the best material, but it works.
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post #3 of 9 Old 07-21-2017, 09:36 AM Thread Starter
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Wow, this looks great! The rounded edges add a nice touch to the board. In fact, I just made one out of red oak, too. Not the best material, but it works.
Thanks! Since that one I've completed 2 12" x 18" boards from walnut, hard maple, and some purple heart and nearing completion on one that's 8" x 12" from walnut and hard maple. Still learning a lot on how to make these well but it's been a lot of fun and a great learning experience.
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post #4 of 9 Old 07-21-2017, 11:09 AM
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Nice looking

I like how you did the end grain
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post #5 of 9 Old 07-21-2017, 04:27 PM
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Thanks! Since that one I've completed 2 12" x 18" boards from walnut, hard maple, and some purple heart and nearing completion on one that's 8" x 12" from walnut and hard maple. Still learning a lot on how to make these well but it's been a lot of fun and a great learning experience.
Walnut and red oak are okay if your only cutting bread on them, but since they are both open grain i wouldn't cut meat on them.
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post #6 of 9 Old 07-21-2017, 05:15 PM
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There was some discussion a while back, and a good link to some studies on wood cutting boards. I've always been of the mind that wood boards are for non-meat cutting, and I use plastic boards for meat.

Turns out IIRC that there was no difference in the contamination levels on either if they were cleaned, and maintained properly.

Didn't change my mind though, plastic boards are cheap, I still do all of my meat work on them.
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post #7 of 9 Old 07-21-2017, 06:02 PM Thread Starter
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Walnut and red oak are okay if your only cutting bread on them, but since they are both open grain i wouldn't cut meat on them.
I was not aware of walnut being open grain but then I didn't do much research because almost all cutting boards I've come across either for sale, in albums on websites, or via YouTube videos on making them use walnut to a large degree. Am I missing something given the large number of cutting boards made with walnut?

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post #8 of 9 Old 04-08-2018, 06:41 PM
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There was some discussion a while back, and a good link to some studies on wood cutting boards. I've always been of the mind that wood boards are for non-meat cutting, and I use plastic boards for meat.

Turns out IIRC that there was no difference in the contamination levels on either if they were cleaned, and maintained properly.

Didn't change my mind though, plastic boards are cheap, I still do all of my meat work on them.
Most pros will cut on plastic in the restaurants but advocate a heavy end grain wood board at home(end grain tends to be gentler to knives). Wood is a living thing and the fungi, bacteria, and other micro-organisms living on the surface are like an immune system for your board. They create a harsh environment for invading bacteria and tend to have an anti-microbial effect while plastic requires sanitizing after every use.

I wouldn't be afraid to cut on an oak board but I would much rather prefer something that is closed grain because it resists staining and wipes off easier. It's not much different than using an old board that has been covered in previous knife cuts or boards that are made from end grain.

Just promptly clean it off after each use, keep it oiled, and keep it away from the sink!
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post #9 of 9 Old 04-09-2018, 12:46 AM
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Cutting Boards, Butcher Block, and related Items

Note: Below is an excerpt from "Best Wood for Cutting Boards" which from my post on became lively if not truculent conversation. The topic of "cutting boards" in general can become contentious for some with very strong opinions...

Butcher Block...Whats the best wood? etc.

First, let me validate my perspectives on this topic and why I have drawn the conclusions I offer...

I have been a traditional woodworker for over 40 years, much of that while working within other professions, but always keeping my hand on the professional side of it. One of the most sought-after items is those for the Kitchen and the ubiquitous "Butcher Block" being asked for most often. I have gotten to watch the complete evolution of these over time from "plastic is best" in the late 70's and 80's...until we all learned through the events of actual human deaths, that plastic actually can (once cut on enough and not properly cleaned) grow bacteria in all the cut marts to the point of being unserviceable. This can happen at a very alarming rate!!! Even though many are still in service, little can change a human habit once formed, so many still cut on plastic. Then studies came out proving the logic of our forebears that "wood is good" because there are some species (Acer Species...aka Maples and related) that actually have antimicrobial properties within the wood itself, and cleaning them is nothing more than vinegar and/or citric acid. I have designed and made everything from working Harvest Tables to full-on professional "stump style" and "butch blocking" traditional cutting surfaces for everything from Butchery, and Bakery, to Abattoir facilities. That history is what facilitated the advice below offered.

Hands down, the best wood for "cutting surfaces" are going to be Maples and related species. Its been that way for literally over 1000 years, and only the last 100 have we "experimented" with other materials and woods. Most of which don't come close to the performance of Maple and many are just plain bad to use.

As to construction, I promote "End Grain" orientation whenever possible. If on the flat...bark up only!!!!...as this has the shortest fiber pattern exposure (aka splinters) and follows the traditional adage of: "use wood as it stands living or fall in the forest." That's not a hard and fast rule but a very dominantly found tradition with very strong logic behind it. If wood is used for a cutting board (or a floorboard) with the "pith side up" the splinters get longer and the fiber structure can trap liquids down inside the wood!!! My minimum thickness for 90% of what I design and/or make for a cutting board is 100mm and I prefer actual "stump style" blocks at 300mm that can be resurfaced and last over 100 years in continued use. I prefer green wood over dry, and joinery over glues whenever possible...

As to finishes, I only use food grade oils and beeswax for all but the cutting surface. There are countless blends out there, but just plain pure food grade Tung or Flax oil rubbed into the wood is standard by many. Beeswax cut in with citrus oil which also is a great cleaning agent in its own right. Note that some Chief and others do not want any "drying oil" used on their boards...at all!!! I support this and understand the reason, as they can trap bacteria and/or taint the flavor of the food. Some want it just bare wood, while others (me included) will use Coconut oil (my all time favorite) or Olive Oil which both have been used for over 1000 years. As to going rancid...NO, they do not...IF...the surface is cleaned properly after each use and wiped down with fresh oil that is blotted off with warm water...

I would note, the reason Coconut Oil is one of (if not my primary) favorite oils for food prep surfaces is its very neutral affect as a food grade/based "non-drying oil." Even more so than Olive Oil. Anaphylaxis is extremely rare with coconut oils, (I have never heard or read of it happening) and one of the reasons it has been used safely for so long historically. Contact dermatitis is also virtual nonexistent with Coconut Oils....Nothing is 100% safe...other than dry wood, which some do prefer.

Mineral Oil treatment are a "new concept" based more on trend (and the petroleum industry pushing byproduct onto the market to boost profits) than in a good practice based on known (and proven) traditions. I know of few Chiefs that would ever tolerate mineral oil ever getting anywhere near a dish they are preparing. Mineral oils are not a material of "food"...they have (depending on manufacture) very strong tastes/flavors, and are actually a laxative. Not a quality I personally want around food or food prep surfaces. Mineral Oils are touted as colorless and odorless but do have a strong flavor, especially to those with sensitive palates. As a by-product of the distillation of petroleum to produce gasoline they really have no place near food preparation surfaces in my (et al) view. It's long been used as a common ingredient in lotions, creams, ointments, and cosmetics, but even these are now being determined to be poor for human skin contact over duration. It's lightweight and inexpensive for industry to manufacture from waste byproduct and that is the main reason it has been so thoroughly marketed in many products of modernity. For me, and what I have seen, this is one of those materials that came into fashion based on "marketing" not from actual good practice or proven long standing tradition...

Before I end this post, let me speak to the other woods often used, that probably shouldn't be. One of the most common currently isn't a wood at all...Its a grass!!...and that would be Bamboo. Now I love bamboo, and it is a pretty cool material, to say the least. Why don't I like it for cutting boards? The main reason is it dulls the crap out of good knives because of the natural silica content in the cell structure of the plant. I also know that many fall apart because they are not made well. Like most (if not all) good cutting surfaces...END GRAIN IS BEST!!!...and if (I have made a few lite duty ones) I make one of Bamboo, it is only made with an "end grain" orientation. Channeling in the surface needs to be of a nature (like V channel) that can be cleaned well and easily if these are used at all. I don't recommend them nor put them on my projects.

The next group is "nut woods." I don't recommend any of these typically because of allergic reactions and toxicity, as well as, tainting the flavor of foods, which they can do. These same reasons are why I personally do not ever recommend tropical or other "unknown" hardwoods, as many of these too can taint flavor or have toxins in them or the potential to. Cherry to has a distinct flavor to those with sensitive palates, as well as silicate in the fibers. Oaks and related species are entirely too full of tannic acid, and are "open-celled" which is not a good thing to have on a most types of cutting boards. There are exceptions for such as end grain orientation White Oak species, and only for such things as the culinary arts aimed solely at Smoke and/or Barbecued meats, but hat is a very niche area of cuisine.

Good Luck with your project!

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