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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been asked to make a cutting board for someone. I've never made one before so looking for some advice.

best wood? I think that most butcher blocks are oak, is that right? what is a good contrasting wood to use?

construction? Can I just glue up wide boards or am I better off making smaller boards to prevent warping? cup up, cup down, or vary? It needs to be kinda thick because she wants channels for the juice to drain down.

Finish? butcher block oil only?

thanks

Mark
 

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Try searching Cutting Boards using the search function up above!

Mineral Oil or something actually listed as food safe for the finish.

As far as woods go try to stick to something tight grained like Maple.
But I've seen all kinds of accent woods used as well.
 

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I've been asked to make a cutting board for someone. I've never made one before so looking for some advice.

best wood? I think that most butcher blocks are oak, is that right? what is a good contrasting wood to use?

construction? Can I just glue up wide boards or am I better off making smaller boards to prevent warping? cup up, cup down, or vary? It needs to be kinda thick because she wants channels for the juice to drain down.

Finish? butcher block oil only?

thanks

Mark
I think the most popular wood would be Maple, NOT Oak.

... by all means, Mineral Oil is the way to finish them...

IMHO... of course...
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Joe - the link up top was a search of existing posts on this site, I didn't get that either at first.

thanks Vinny- just scanned that, but it seems to have a lot of what I'm looking for
 

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Maple supposedly kills some bacteria. You should make them out of a closed grain wood, but there's plenty of oak, mahogany and other open woods used.

We make them out of maple, cherry and walnut primarily and do 20 or 30 cutting and serving boards a month out of cut-offs.

Some people will tell you to alternate boards so that the rings run up on one and down on the next, but it really doesn't make any difference. If you're concerned about it, use 1/4 sawn.

If it's a meat cutting or chopping board, then you should make it out of endgrain. This will last much longer and won't dull the knives so fast. For bread boards and vegetable cutting boards edge grain is sufficient and for serving and infrequent cutting, face grain is okay. But remember that cutting on face grain is going to very noticeable and if you're showing off some figured wood, it'll be all scratched up quickly.

Of course you can resand or scrape the surface every so often to restore that pretty wood.

I prefer walnut oil because it dries and looks a little better, but lightweight mineral oil, (butcher block oil) works very well and we use it probably half the time. You can also use regular mineral oil as stated. The only real drawback to regular mineral oil is that it takes forever to halfway dry and will weep for months if the board gets warm. The lightweight will more or less dry in a couple of days and doesn't seem to weep.

I prefer Titebond III glue for these, but one of my guys prefers the Titebond II. We both use our boards and I can't recall ever having one fail.
 

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White oak would be OK, but the more lumberyard/ home depot common red oak would not. Red oak is an open pore wood. You can actually blow cigar smoke through a foot long board of red oak. I know because I lost a bet on the subject. Open pores (I know this is the wrong technical term) means ALOT of places for the raw chicken residue to hide from the soap. White oak, on the other hand is a closed pore wood that has been used by coopers forever in making barrels. Closed is good for a food surface. Traditional butcher blocks are end-grain hard maple. Find a tight-grain closed pore wood. A good food safe finish is wax dissolved in mineral oil. Warm the mineral oil in hot water from the tap (never a flame!!!) and add wax shavings. Get as much wax to dissolve as you can with just hot tap water. If your water doesn't get hot enough to keep you from putting your hand under the flow you might want to heat water on the stove to warm your oil BEFORE YOU ASS THE WAX.. (KEEP THE OIL AWAY FROM THE STOVE!!!) ...My insurance man told ma to say that.....
 

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I have made several cutting boards but they are all end grain. I use Osage Orange as they are definatly unique and the growth rings really stand out and make them look very nice.

Ditto on the red oak concerns. White is ok, Maple and walnut seem to be most popular, and some even make them from cedar.
 

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Oh man, what a typo... I meant to say before you ADD the wax.,, turns out the S is next to the D... Please, if you are made of wax or are fond of it I meant no harm. I would NEVER ass the wax. (no wax was assed in the creation of this post.)
 

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I see a lot of purpleheart used, if your decor doesn't clash with purple. The exotics (tropical woods) are good choices because they're far denser than U. S. type woods. But the big caveat is to check their relative toxicity. I don't have a link handy, but if you google "wood toxicity" you'd find charts for that. I think walnut could affect people with nut allergies, but I'd have to check that out too.

But you did give me an idea. I've been thinking of making a couple and I've got some hickory that would work well for that. Ipe (if safe) would be another good one - that stuff's so dense it could be passed down for generations.
 

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Oh man, what a typo... I meant to say before you ADD the wax.,, turns out the S is next to the D... Please, if you are made of wax or are fond of it I meant no harm. I would NEVER ass the wax. (no wax was assed in the creation of this post.)
Spyko... In case you didn't know, FYI, you could have clicked "Edit" and modified your original post (still can, I think)... then it would be corrected and a correction unnecessary. :yes:

Funny typo...
 

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I won't venture to say what I think the "best" species is for a cutting board because that is subjective, and there are many species which are suitable. I think some are better than others though because of certain qualities. One that is often overlooked is Mesquite.

It is the most stable wood on the planet edging out even Mahogany and Teak, so it shrinks and expands far less than any other wood commonly used for cutting boards. This also means glue lines will not fail even after years of use and abuse. What little shrinkage does occur, is equal both tangentially and radially, so any negative effects of the shrinkage are basically nil.

It is harder than Rock Maple and even Osage Orange. It has beautiful grain character. It is extremely dense so it won't hold bacteria as much as the traditional, less denser woods especially oak and walnut.

Because of it's unequaled stability it can endure thousands of dishwasher cycles without warping or splitting unlike most other woods you try that with.

And unlike any other of the hardwoods mentioined, if you ever get tired of using it as a cutting board, you can always chip it up and have the best smoking wood known to man for grilling steaks. :icon_smile:

Edit: You could also consider Lignum Vitae but one of the downfalls of it is you might not be able to find it until you drain the kitchen sink. It's so dense that it does'nt even float!
 

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I thought this thread could use some pictures. Until recently I was under the mistaken impression that no Mesquite grew in our county or anywhere within 100 miles of me. Man was I wrong. I recently "discovered" a 200 acre patch where I am cutting cedar that has about 20 acres of Mesquite. The owner said I could have them all. Shucks. ;)

This crotch is about as plain jane as mesquite crotch gets.
Wood Tree Wood stain Furniture Table

Here is a little more figure in a typical mesquite board.
Wood Brown Hardwood Wood stain Tree
 

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I suppose a cutting board can be made out of many different woods and the selection of the wood can be based, in full or in part, on any number of criteria.

The industry has grown up around Northern Hard Maple. In fact the "Butcher Block" as it was originally concieved was Rock Maple...Sugar Maple...Northern Hard Maple. If knife durablity is the goal...which it was and is for the commercial food industry...then Hard maple falls in that catagory of hard but not so hard as to wear out your knife.

I understand there may be other considerations. That is obvious at looking though this list and seeing what people create...some beautiful things indeed.
 

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I make my cutting boards out of hard maple, walnut, and cherry. I use only food grade mineral oil on them for the finish.
End grain is by far the most handsome of boards, edge grain works well for veggies. I don' t make face grain boards, they just don't appeal to me.
 
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