Where do you get your lumber?
I get all my lumber from a company that stocks mainly rough cut boards. They supply lumber directly to millwork shops and other wood working businesses. Purchasing rough lumber is much less expensive than a big box store or specialty woodworker’s store. This allows me to pass the cost savings on to my customers. In addition, I love the challenge of working the rough lumber myself and being the first person to see the figured grain gradually appear as I plane, joint, and sand each board.
How do you build a cutting board?
My cutting boards use either edge-grain or end-grain wood. Varying widths of the boards are jointed, glued, and clamped. Once the glue is dry, the rough cutting board is planed to make sure the top and bottom surfaces are parallel. The board is then sent through the drum sander multiple times to chase out any checks or kerf marks. The next steps include hand sanding and routing a soft edge around the board. Finally, all my boards are conditioned with three coats of Howard Butcher Block & Cutting Board Oil.
There are two very important things to remember when creating a high-quality wood cutting board.
First, you should choose high quality hardwoods such as walnut or hard maple. Of course, there are many other hardwoods you could choose but some get rather expensive. The important thing to remember is that you probably wouldn’t want to make a cutting board from a soft wood such as pine or an open-grained wood such as red oak or hickory. The high quality hardwoods will help you create a durable cutting board that will last for years.
Second, the mating surfaces of each piece of wood must be jointed smooth to achieve maximum adhesion when glued and clamped. Checks and kerf marks between the mating surfaces may weaken the joint and decrease the life of the cutting board. Using a good PVA (Polyvinyl Acetate) glue like Titebond III will provide the strong interfacial bond desired is a high-quality cutting board. Occasionally, I have used biscuits or dowels to provide added strength to my 2 ½” thick butcher blocks and to some of my handled cutting boards.
Can you use any type of wood for a cutting board?
No. There are a number of wood types that are not suitable for a cutting board. A soft wood such as pine should not be used because it lacks the durability of a hard wood. Repeated knife cuts on a pine cutting board would be readily visible and make a short life for the board. A hard wood such as red oak may sound acceptable; however, this is an open-grained species that is not suitable for cutting boards. The porous nature of red oak (also ash) allows for food substance to get caught in the cutting board and makes the board difficult to clean.
There are differing opinions on whether or not teak makes a good cutting board or not. The wood itself is hard and durable. It is a tree that grows in the swamps; therefore, it has a tendency to have silica (sand) in its lumber. The dulling effect of abrasive sand on woodworking tools such as saw blades and router bits is a major annoyance to woodworkers. Since the carbide edge of a woodworking tool will hit the teak board thousands of times per minute during the cutting process, the dulling effects of the silica in the boards are more apparent than when a chef makes a couple hundred knife cuts on a teak cutting board.
There are also differing opinions on whether bamboo makes a good cutting board. On one hand, it is a fast growing, renewable resource which makes it environmentally friendly. However, since bamboo is a grass product, the cutting board will contain a lot of glue which could shorten the sharp edge on your knives.
At the end of the day, they are your sharp knives. You need to decide whether you want to use a board that has the potential to wear on your sharp cutting utensils or a board of another type of wood.
How do you care for a wood cutting board?
Never put your wood cutting board in a dishwasher. Never submerge your cutting board in water. A high-quality wood cutting board is made of durable, close-grained hardwood. These types of boards stand up to knife cuts and with a little care will last for years.
Rinse board with soap and water after use. A food-safe mineral oil will keep wood from drying out. Use course salt and a lemon to scrub the cutting board. For deep stains, a baking soda paste can be used.
Do you ship cutting boards?
Yes. The best way I have found is to use priority shipping via USPS. For $17.90 (as of this writing) I can ship a cutting board up to 11” wide x 22” long x 2” thick. This price is directly from USPS. I will not charge any additional fees for packaging. I prefer the priority shipping method because it automatically comes with insurance and a tracking code.
What is the most important tool in your workshop?
In my opinion, the jointer is the most important tool when creating a cutting board. The joints between the mating surfaces must be perfect in order to create good adhesion when glued and clamped.