Oak for cutting board? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 22 Old 02-10-2013, 04:32 PM Thread Starter
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Oak for cutting board?

I know it's not a first choice or even a second but what are the thoughts for using oak for an edge grain cutting board?
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post #2 of 22 Old 02-10-2013, 04:35 PM
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Lots of threads about this subject.
Oak is a no go on cutting boards.

Learning more about tools everyday
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post #3 of 22 Old 02-10-2013, 06:01 PM
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Most people avoid oak especially red oak as the open grain is so open and prominent that the board is harder to keep clean.
End grain might work if the grain was filled well. White oak has plugs in the vessels so would likely be a bit preferable. Maple, cherry and other closed grain woods are commonly used. If the cutting boards were more decorative and not used for wet food, it would might be OK.
I noticed at the One of a Kind Show that end grain boards were popular. Lots of potential movement so consistent dry wood and good glues are vital.
I'm sure there will be lots more replies.
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post #4 of 22 Old 02-10-2013, 07:25 PM
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I've done extensive reading on this topic and it seems that red oak is a definite no-no. White oak is okay. There's a big difference in how porous the two woods are.

Bill
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post #5 of 22 Old 02-10-2013, 07:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stilts View Post
I know it's not a first choice or even a second but what are the thoughts for using oak for an edge grain cutting board?
Not a good idea even for white oak, edge grain or end grain.

Oak grain is too porous and not as hard as you think.

Other replies have mentioned better species are hard maple, walnut, cherry.

Note the big box stores may have "maple" but it will be one of the 5 species which are referred to as "soft maple".

Only sugar maple is the hard maple species.

Soft maple would be better than white oak, closer grain, even if not much harder.
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post #6 of 22 Old 02-10-2013, 08:17 PM
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I used oak in one of my boards and as soon I put the finishing oil on it, the oak turned black. So now I don't use it. I only use hard woods. Maple, walnut, blood wood, purple heart.
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post #7 of 22 Old 04-29-2016, 09:32 PM
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I know this is an old thread, but I'm looking to do this soon and have been doing research on it. White oak is great for end grain cutting boards provided you try to avoid the sap wood. I've contacted a few companies that sell oak endgrain cutting boards and they say the same thing. Porous and open grained are two different things. Cheers!
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post #8 of 22 Old 04-29-2016, 10:36 PM
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White oak is very hard. You can just look at the ends and see they are plugged, if you had a magnifying glass. White oak is also very hard and dense, all you have to do is pick up a piece and you will know it is white oak by the weight. There will be no doubt in your mind.
Also the USS Constitution also known as Old Iron Sides got its nickname because the British cannon balls just bounced off it. It was made of white oak.
The old chairs that you will see in old buildings like State capitols, that have those very heavy indestructible chairs - they are probably white oak.

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post #9 of 22 Old 04-29-2016, 11:20 PM
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Red oak will turn black. White oak is better but the grain is so open food stuff will get embedded in the wood. Then someone will get sick. It's better all round to use a closed grain wood.
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post #10 of 22 Old 04-29-2016, 11:57 PM
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Tony B, read the caption on the photo I posted. That is actually false information. White oak is close grained. It has large pores that you can see, yes, but those pores are not hollow like red oak. They are filled in. Making it just as solid and homogeneous as maple or cherry. Which is why particulate matter will NOT build up in the pores any more than the smaller pores of maple.

Here is the link to the wood database article I am siting. It is about the difference red and white oak.

http://www.wood-database.com/wood-ar...rom-white-oak/

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post #11 of 22 Old 04-30-2016, 09:39 AM
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I agree with your statement 100% that white oak is close grained.
I am not convinced that the attachments in your Post#7 are an accurate portrayal of the 2 oaks.
The same goes for your latest link when scrolled to "1. Look at the Endgrain". I dont believe that the photo on the right is actually white oak. At least it does not look like any white oak I have ever used. All the white oak I have used has a much denser end grain pattern and Im sure this also accounts for a lot of the weight differential. Also note that the photos in the link showing the surface look to me to be plywood. When you plane, sand or whatever on red oak and then blow ot down, the open pores on the surface are very visable to the naked eye. Not so on white oak.
If you want a slick finish on red oak, you always have to use use a paste wood filler. Not so on white oak. My word recall at my age gets worse by the day. back in the late 1960's through the 70's, a popular technique on cabinet finishing was to fill the pores with a colored paste wood filler (usually a white or pink) and then finish over it with a clear coat. I cant recall the name of the technique. Anyway, it almost always was done with red oak due to the open and larger pores than most other cabinet woods. Never on white oak, thats for sure.
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post #12 of 22 Old 04-30-2016, 11:11 AM
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Haha whoops! I think I read steves comment and thought it was yours. My mistake! That's interesting to hear you would actually use some sort of grain filler on anything red oak. I'm so glad to finally have found the right information without having to buy expensive text books! So many people have simply said "oak is oak and it's open grained" without any real proof or facts to substantiate that claim. You've got experience!
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post #13 of 22 Old 04-30-2016, 12:15 PM
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95% of what I make out of red oak stays as is. Every so often I get a request for a mirror finish. By filling the grain, I save untold amounts of spraying and sanding to get the surface glass flat and slick, before I can get to the buffing stages.
I still cant think of what we called it when we clear finished red oak with a colored grain. It wasn't white washing. Its pretty bad when you cant remember what you cant remember. LOL

Eueika!!!!!!!! it was called "pickling".

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post #14 of 22 Old 04-30-2016, 02:05 PM
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I use white Oak for my end grain cutting boards. It is very hard, durable, and makes a great show. I referred to the wood database before using any hardwoods in my boards.
White oak is also used in making wine barrels. Red Oak is not. It is one of my favorite woods to use, when making cutting boards. Everyone always asks, "what type of wood is that one".

The wood database is an excellent source for wood information.


Ellery Becnel
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post #15 of 22 Old 04-30-2016, 02:29 PM
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Red Oak (Quercus rubra) and several other oak species are grouped together as the vessels/stacks of vessel elements are open tubes from the roots to the crown tips.
As stated clearly in the figure caption in P#7, the vessel elements in White Oak, (Q. alba,) are plugged with "tyloses", sealing the wood, whiskey tight.
Tyloses are balloonings of adjacent living wood cells into the open volume of the vessel elements. All die at maturity, leaving the vessels sealed.
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post #16 of 22 Old 04-30-2016, 04:29 PM
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I've often used leftover scraps of red oak as components of cutting boards (which I make to use up scraps), going back 35+ years. Never knew it wasn't advisable; guess I'll stop using it!
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post #17 of 22 Old 04-30-2016, 05:45 PM
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In a cutting board application, I think that you are very vulnerable to food juices soaking into red oak if your design is end grain as the face. White oak would be far better as you know it's waterproof to the point that it's used for cooperage for whiskey, sherry and wine.

Having said that, there is a pasty sealer for red oak, almost gravy-like in consistency, which does plug the vessels. Smear it on, card off the excess and sand the hello out of the floor when dry/cured. I do not know if that stuff is food-safe or not.

In the white oak group of species, water and soil nutrients are travelling in the open vessels of the sap wood. Commonly, this is no more than the most recent 20-40 years of growth. Older than that, tyloses form to block the vessels and the water in the heart volume of the tree is still there but not moving.
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post #18 of 22 Old 05-01-2016, 12:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arcola60 View Post
White oak is also used in making wine barrels.


Ellery Becnel
And whiskey barrels.
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post #19 of 22 Old 05-01-2016, 02:18 PM
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And Scotch Barrels
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post #20 of 22 Old 05-01-2016, 08:37 PM
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It's funny, I went through a flea market today and a vendor there was selling nothing but red oak cutting boards. I thought about this thread as soon as I saw it.
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