Cutting boards 101 – 2 – Choose the woodtype!contributer external
How to Choose the Best Wood For Your Next DIY Cutting Board Project
Buying a cutting board is easier but making one on your own is stupendous. You can customize it however you want, add a personalized touch to your kitchen plus have a chef-worthy cutting board at your service all the time. Now let’s move on to ‘How to make a cutting board’ that can be more durable & sustainable than others. Out of all the essentials you need for making a cutting board, choosing a suitable piece of wood is the most critical. So this ultimate guide is all you need to decide which type of wood to use for crafting your very own cutting board and other DIY wood projects.
How to Choose the Perfect Wood?
To find which type of wood to use for cutting board, you need to look for the following characteristics:
1. Janka Hardness Rating:
Any wood that is more resistant to denting, wear and tear is ideal for making a cutting board. And this is what Janka hardness rating tells us; relative hardness of different types of woods. Out of the two main types of wood (hardwood and softwood), hardwoods grow slower so they are denser and more durable, which makes them the best choice for cutting boards. Maple, teak, cherry, and oak are all examples of hardwoods.
Not every wood is safe to be used in the kitchen. Some woods have toxic characteristics that can cause swelling, irritation or even intestinal disorders if their toxin is ingested along with the food. To stay on the safer side, it is recommended to use woods that yield edibles such as cherry, walnut, and so on as they are food-safe. Some exotic woods (for example Purpleheart) may attract you due to their beauty, but contain toxins that can be harmful if ingested. Make no mistake, you can’t take the risk when it comes to your food safety.
3. Wood Grain:
Woodgrain or porosity is what makes the wood surface feel either smooth or rough when touched. While deciding which type of wood to use for making cutting boards, go for the one that is closed-grained. Closed-grained woods have small pores that are invisible to the naked eye. They don’t absorb liquid or food particles, unlike open-grained woods (which have visible, open pores), thus prevent wood damage due to unwanted growth of bacteria and molds on food particles hidden deep down in the pores.
To keep the surface smooth and prevent wooden boards from drying out, you should often apply food-grade mineral oil. Different woods have different demands of oiling, depending on their tendency to shrink. To ensure a long life for your cutting board, remember to condition the wood often.
Top 6 kinds of wood for Cutting Boards:
Keeping in mind the aforementioned features of wood, we have listed below the best woods that you can use to craft a workable cutting board.
This light-colored and food-safe wood is the most popular among most woods for making excellent cutting boards. Maple wood is closed-grained as well as a hardwood (measuring 1,450 lbf on Janka hardness scale) that makes it dense enough to provide a brilliant cutting surface with a longer life expectancy. Out of the many types of maple, sugar maple is most commonly used because of its’s hard nature that makes it scratch-resistant even more than walnut, beech, and teak. Although it’s light color gives it a more natural look this makes it more vulnerable to develop and hold stains as well. It has a tendency to shrink more than walnut and teak as well.
Beech has many characteristics similar to maple. This hardwood measures 1,300 lbf on the hardness scale but still keeps the knives safe. It has soft-pink color initially, but it changes into a very attractive red color with the passage of time which makes it easy to mask the appearance of stains on the surface. It has small-sized pores which makes it a good choice for cutting boards because it will not let the board become a breeding ground for bacteria. Although it’s cheaper comparatively it tends to shrink faster than teak, walnut, and maple demanding more need of conditioning (once in a month) than other woods.
Even in humid environments, teak is a great wood to keep molds away. It is heavy and dense (1,070 lbf on hardness scale) in nature so you won’t have to worry about the board getting slippery while it’s in use. This orange-brown hardwood can easily mask the stains left behind after cutting edibles like beetroot and turmeric. This is a great bonus if you are planning to use it often. Teak shrinks less than beech, walnut, and maple so you can be relaxed due to its lesser demand for conditioning. Teak does have a rather high silica amount which can be damaging to knives.
Walnut is chocolate-colored in appearance that makes it very appealing for dark color lovers. Also, it’s the best choice if you are not a fan of seeing stains on your cutting board. It has medium to large pores that still give it a good amount of resistance against the growth of decaying microbes. Its shrinkage is lesser than other kinds of wood so monthly oiling is not something that you will need to worry about. Walnut is a closed-grained, softwood (measures 1,010 lbf on Janka scaling) but still hard enough to make a reliable cutting board.
Cherry wood for cutting boards, due to its eye-catching red color, can be a very beautiful wood for your next cutting board. It’s the softest wood among all the above so it can get marked up quite easily. However, there is one good thing about its softness, that is, it will not dull your knife. It shrinks very little, so conditioning can stay out of your monthly to-do list.
Bamboo, which is actually a hard grass and not a wood, makes great cutting boards. Its Janka hardness rating of 1,380 lbf makes it hard and dense which is good for cutting but not so good for knives (you might find yourself sharpening your knives more often). What makes it favorable is its fast-growing nature meaning it is more sustainable as well as a renewable resource for making cutting boards. It’s lightweight and has unusual, beautiful patterns that give it a more organic look and feel.
Choosing the right wood doesn’t have to be guesswork. With your new knowledge of woods and their various flaws and advantages, you can find the right wood for all your DIY wood project needs. Starting with a cutting board, you will feel accomplished at what you can achieve and how a personalized project in your home can lead to a sense of empowerment and pride like no other. Don’t wait, start your next wood project today!