What are the differences between a butchers block and a cutting board?
A butchers block normally has the wood grain turned up on end and a cutting board has the grain running the length of the board. However, the terms are used to describe both and are no longer exclusive.
Which wood should I choose for my board?
– The general rule of thumb is to choose wood from a tree with an edible running sap or edible nuts. Hard maple is the traditional wood used because of its very tight grain structure, weight and hardness. Although Oak meets the rule of thumb, Oak is a very poor wood to use because of the open grain structure that will tend to trap food particles.
What is the advantage of end grain?
End grain boards are easier on the knife edges and will last much longer. When cutting, the edge goes between the wood fibers and those fibers aren’t severed. Long grain cutting boards, while they are much easier to make and much less expensive, will have their wood fibers severed as an edge cuts across. They will require resurfacing more often to rid the cutting surface of splinters.
I’ve heard that wood is more sanitary. Is this true?
I have read many articles about this and from what I understand; the moisture on the surface of the board is wicked into the interior carrying bacteria with it. As the moisture is wicked inside, the bacteria will die due to a lack of moisture.
Is there a better glue to use over another?
Actually almost any glue can be used. However, a type 3, waterproof cross-linked polymer glue that is FDA approved as food safe is the best choice. Yellow carpenters glues will melt with water contact, polyurethane glues are hard and will flake off and type 2 glues are only water resistant.
What oil do I use to maintain the wood?
Straight mineral oil is preferred. Heat and apply to the cutting surface periodically to help maintain water repellency. Add some bees wax to the oil and heat until the wax melts. Apply this to the cutting surface for extra water repellency. I offer at this time a Board Butter which is more wax than oil and is applied like a paste wax over a mineral oil coating. Just remember to oil all the surfaces from time to time, not just the top. Normally, boards that are built in the Orient are treated with bean oil which is food safe yet contain fats which may go rancid.
What oil shouldn’t I use?
Any organic oil, vegetable, olive, nut oil and the like, should be avoided. They all contain natural fats and will turn rancid over a period of time. Nut oils can also cause an allergic reaction in those who are allergic to nuts. Avoid Tung oil. Pure Tung oil will take a long time to dry and may turn into an ugly mess unless a chemical heavy metal dryer is added.
You use rubber tipped feet. Why?
The rubber tips do four things; absorb shocks when chopping, keep the board steady and stable during use, allow for easier handhold when moving and gives a space for air circulation to keep the underside dry.
Why do you use the wooden holders for the rubber tips?
Using the holders gives the board a more finished look and one that is more “high end”. The holders are somewhat difficult to make and require time to make properly. It takes absolutely no craftsmanship or ability to simply screw a rubber tip to the bottom of the board. To borrow a phrase from an old friend, “It looks like a brown stain on a white rag”. If a maker takes the cheap route here, where else is the cheap route being taken? Also, I use stainless steel screws to attach the feet where the other makers use the plated screws supplied with the rubber tips. Plated screws will rust, stainless will not.
Can I get a board without feet, double sided?
On request I will be happy to leave them off. However, during use you will need to put something under the board to keep it stable and extreme care must to be taken to make sure it isn’t sitting in moisture while not being used.
How do I sanitize the board?
After each use, wash with a quality dishwashing detergent and warm water. Wet the surface, apply the detergent and wash. Rinse thoroughly. (Do no leave hot water running over the surface for an extended period of time!) A solution of 1 tablespoon of Clorox to one quart of water is sufficient to sanitize. Spray on, let it sit and then rinse. Or, mix a 1 : 1 ratio of vinegar and water. Spray on, let it sit and then rinse. Or, coat the surface with salt overnight. The salt will absorb the moisture and kill the bacteria. Please read and refer to the use and care guide supplied with each board.
How do I get rid of stains?
Clean the surface and use peroxide on a cloth. Dab the stain and the peroxide will lift the stain gently. But not quickly.
How do I get rid of odors?
The best way is to keep the board well-oiled and washed after each use. Using baking soda on a smelly area will help but avoid using a paste of baking soda and water. Caution- the caustic nature of baking soda may discolor a wooden board.
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What about exotic woods?
Many are toxic and should be avoided. Woods like Teak contains silica which is highly abrasive to your knife edges. Also, avoid any spalted wood. Spalted wood contains a bacterium that is eating the wood and is toxic to humans. Steer clear of woods like red and white cedar. They contain oils that repel insects and if the insects won’t eat it, you shouldn’t be eating off of it.
I’ve seen bamboo used. Is it a good choice?
Bamboo is used primarily in the Orient and is a grass product. The smaller pieces require a tremendous amount of glue to be used which is hard on your knife edges.
Is there a wood that is too hard?
Woods that measure 850 to 1600 on the Janka hardness scale will be good for a board. A measurement above 1600 will be tougher on the knife edges. A partial list contains: Ipe, Teak, Southern Chestnut, Bloodwood, Tigerwood, Purpleheart, Jarrah, Bubinga, Merbau, Hickory/Pecan, Acacia, most Bamboo and Wenge. Also, some manufacturers add a resin hardener to their boards which is extremely tough on knife edges.
What is the hardness rating of the woods you use?
On the Janka hardness scale maple rates 1450, the mahogany I use is 1220, black walnut is next at 1010 and black cherry is 850. But, the key here is the end grain construction which makes each very durable.
How thick are your boards?
Normally I build for a 2” thickness for the end grain boards but most end up about 1/16” thicker. More thickness equals more weight and makes the board sturdier.
What sizes do you make?
My stock sizes are 12 x 18, 16 x 22 and 18 x 24. Other sizes I make are 12 x 12, 14 x 18, 14 x 20, 16 x 20 and 24 x 36.
Do you make custom sizes?
Custom sizes are available on request. Quotes for special order sizes will be provided at no charge and will be honored for a period of six months.
If I want a board with several different wood species, can you do that?
Yes. But bear in mind that different species of wood react to humidity and wear differently so keep the different species as close to the same hardness as you can.
Do you offer grooves?
Perimeter grooves can be added at an additional cost. Remember that they take away from the usable space on the cutting surface and can sometimes be difficult to clean properly.
What is the lead time?
For in-stock boards I try to have them shipped within three to four days normally shipping on Fridays. If I am out of stock, the lead time can be increased to two to three weeks depending on the volume of orders in the shop. We are a small operation, so at any given time an item might or might not be in stock. If you are worried about delivery times, just contact me directly so we can discuss it. Special orders can take longer and the build time can vary with the complexity of the project and if any outside vendors are required.
Can you ship internationally?
Yes. I use the USPS Priority Mail International which will get a package as far away as Russia in about 6 to 10 days. For international orders I will bill for the difference between the domestic shipping charges in the shopping cart and the actual charges for Priority Mail International. Estimates for Priority Mail International will be provided free upon request.
Can I use a glass cutting board?
Only if you hate your knives. The hardness of glass will destroy an edge almost instantly. Might as well use a brick!
Can I use a plastic cutting board?
Plastic is much easier on the edges than glass but the deep cuts that remain make it difficult, if not impossible to clean and sanitize. However, their cheaper initial cost makes them easier to discard but they will last in a landfill almost forever.
Should I use two boards, one for raw meat and one for vegetables?
This is a popular idea. But proper sanitation and cleaning will reduce the chances for cross contamination. To be sure, cut the raw vegetables first then raw meats. Wash thoroughly and sanitize accordingly.