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Looking for a good cutting board...

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
I've been searching for a really good cutting board for quite a few years now and am hoping somebody here can put me onto a good source for "professional" style, wooden cutting boards.

My ideal cutting board is wooden and is at least 1" thick. The board itself should be approximately 24" long and 18" deep--it should be big enough to tackle any butchering job a home cook can throw at it. I'm particular about the construction as well. I'm looking a board that has long, narrow, and continuous strips of wood glued together. I don't want a board with short slabs of wood.

I've seen boards exactly like the one I want on several cooking shows including America's Test Kitchen, Lydia's Italy, and The Complete Pepin. Where are these professional cooks getting their cutting boards? Thanks so much for any suggestions/advice you can give!!!
post #2 of 28
If you check this site's past history, you will find a plethora of advice/opinions on cutting boards.

The big question is....How do you want to santize your board? If you were butchering raw turkey do you think that a quick wipe with a paper towel and the "natural bacteria killing enzymes" of the wood will do the job? Do any of the cooking shows elaborate about sanitation and how to achieve it?

The short answer is to gooogle "Boos", makers of many types of wood cutting boards and blocks, and as well your local restaurant supply store.

Like anything else that looks good, wood requires a certain amount of maintainence and TLC. Wood needs to be oiled frequently and doesn't like hot water. Even if it is comprised of kiln dried dovetail-locked strips of wood, wood expands with moisture and contracts in drier conditions. It will also bear the scars of cuts very quickly.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #3 of 28
I'd be very surprised if Boos doesn't have exactly what you are looking for.

If not, then you'll have to go with a custom board. Contact me privately if that's your interest. But check with Boos first; they have a very broad line of affordible boards.

BTW, length of slats is all but irrelevent. What you have to understand before buying any board is the differences between flat-grain, edg- grain, and end-grain construction.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #4 of 28
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I definitely want to go with wood. I've been using wood all my life and really can't stand the feel of any other cutting surface. Most shows don't elaborate on sanitation, but I have several boards for different purposes (raw veggies, folding and shaping bread, cutting raw poultry, carving, etc).

Thanks so much for suggesting Boos. I checked out Bed, Bath, and Beyond's web site and found a board that appears perfect there, but I've never seen it in the store. I'll have to check it out. You mentioned my "local restaurant supply store"...where can one find these things? Several people have mentioned these to me for other tools (butcher's knife most recently), but I have no idea how to find them.

Also, can you give me some more specific info on the different grain types? I'm sure I could probably find out if I did some searching online, but you seem to know what you're talking about. Thanks so much!
post #5 of 28
Tell us what your local is, and we'll start helping you find a local restaurant supply.

Meanwhile there are scores of good online sources, such as Restaurant Equipment World to name one of many.

Since you brought it up: If you're looking for butcher cutlery, your best prices will also be online. The most practical butcher's knives for home cooks are made by Forschner in either their Fibrox or Rosewood lines. Check "Cutlery and More" online. They also have good prices on John Boos cutting boards. So get the credit card warmed up, click CutleryAndMore.com: Wusthof Knives, All Clad Cookware, Henckels Cutlery, Calphalon, Le Creuset, John Boos & More.

And good luck,
BDL
post #6 of 28

Grain Orientation

We could spend hours discussing this, Penelope. But here's a thumbnail sketch.

Flat grain is standard lumber. If you buy a board at the home center, that's what you get. It does not make a suitable cutting board because it will warp and twist. But such a board is the first step in making a quality board.

Edge grain aligns the long fibers of the grain so they are exposed. To do this take that flat board and cut it in strips the long way. Turn each of them 90 degrees (so what had been the sides is now the top and bottom) and glue them together. Most cutting boards are edge grain.

End grain also starts with a flat board. This time you cut the strips crossways and turn them 90 degrees. The actually exposes the cut-off ends of the fibers. End grain is typically used more for butchering than general cutting, because the fibers separate, then self heal after the knife or cleaver is removed. End grain boards usually are much thicker, typically running about 3 inches thick. And, of course, they can go much deeper. I'm sure you've seen standing butcher blocks that are a couple of feet thick.

The ultimate is to first make an edge-grain board, then cut it crossways to make an end-grain. This is the strongest, most useful cutting board you can build. But it will have the appearance of being short pieces of wood glued together. In fact, because of the dimensions used, most of them have a checkerboard look.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #7 of 28
Thread Starter 
Wow. Thank you both so much! I'll check out the site you listed. As far as my "local," I live in a suburb of Cleveland, OH. On a side note, when I asked a local butcher where he got his knife--an old school, scimitar style butcher's knife--he looked at me like I had five heads. I asked if they had a special supplier, and he claimed not to know anything. Maybe these restaurant suppliers like to keep their whereabouts under wraps? In any case, if you can put me on to finding one of these places, I'd be so grateful!

Thanks for the grain tutorial--I've had problems with warping/splitting boards before, and I have a feeling it's because they were flat grain. I can't be sure because they were gifts--which also means I can't throw them away.
post #8 of 28
If you want to journey outside the Cutlery and More universe, Amazon.com has a decent selection of cutting boards. Target has some good ones, do does WalMart.

For a number of reasons Forschner is by far the most popular knife brand in the meat industry. Four of those reasons relate to home cooks like us. Quality, ease of sharpening, variety of shapes and sizes, and price.

Cutlery and More has several Forschner cimiters -- don't blame me, that's how THEY spell it. Butchers use the knife for "steaking," i.e., cutting larger cuts into pieces which are flat on both sides, wide-across, with a consistently sized narrow cross section. Or, as we'd say "slicing." The curvature of the knife gives it useful characteristics of both thick and thin knives. There's never enough knife in the slice to stick on a draw, but the knife has enough "virtual" width to hold its angle. If a cut is started straight, it tends to stay straight.

One of these isn't nearly as important for a home chef. In fact, for most of us it's more useful to be able to correct an angle midway through a cut, then for the knife to hold the angle. uy whole top-block sirloins of beef, pork loins, etc., and steak them myself. But I use a 10" slicer.

There are long cimiters and short cimiters -- for different size cuts of meats. However, it's my impression that buthcers use the "butcher" shape more often for smaller cuts. The edge shape is similar, but the butcher's tip allows the user to use her free hand and add a lot of power to a cut. A 10" butcher's is an extremely useful knife for someone who cooks a lot of spare-ribs.

To my mind these are special purpose knives for the home user. This makes Forschner an even better choice for price and easy-sharpening qualities. Still, if you don't already have a good, long slicer, I'd recommend upgrading that knife before adding a long cimiter. It's a more versatile shape.

And, if you have frequent heavy-use tasks, a heavy chef's knife -- chef de chef as it's called -- is more useful than a butcher's. It covers most of the ground between a chef's knife and a heavy cleaver. However, they're expensive. Anyone on a budget is better off buying a large, old chef's knife at a flea market -- or a Forschner butcher's.

If you do go Forschner, I'd recommend choosing from their Rosewood line rather than Fibrox. Nothing wrong with Fibrox, but it's principal advantages aren't at issue in a home kitchen -- for instance, it can go in a dishwasher, pass inspections, and so on. Rosewood is better looking, more comfortable, and less slippery for light duty in bare hands.

Good luck,
BDL
post #9 of 28
They weren't necessarily flat grain, Penelope. In fact, if they were sold as cutting boards they most likely weren't.

A lot of inexpensive cutting boards, even though edge grain construction, are made of improperly cured wood. So they can still bend, twist, and wrap, especially when they get wet. Very often, with these boards, when they dry out they return to their original shape.

Thickness can matter, too. Any board thinner than an inch is subject to warping. In theory, even thin boards, made from properly kiln-dried wood, should not warp. But the reality is, they sometimes do. That's one reason I like building mine at least 1 1/4 inches thick.

Probably not a problem for the boards you're talking about, but another cause can be incompatible woods. Very often, when building custom boards, tropical woods are worked in with the basic maple, cypriss, ash, whatever, for aesthetic reasons. Sometimes the woods are not compatible, and try to separate over time. Boards made with such woods really should be stabalized with dowels or biscuits rather than just butt glued.

And, finally, even well-made boards will warp, twist, and separate if put in a dishwasher. It should be self-evident that that's a no-no. But you'd be surprised how many people do it.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #10 of 28
All the above sound very proffessional. I have a custom made board of solid burma teak made from a rejected science lab work top. Planted into the worktop of my kitchen 2'by2'.
It's never used for raw meat however. But scrubbing, salting and anti bac-ing keeps it clean and it's the best i've ever had. (and free)
Just thought i'd mention the re-cycling method
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #11 of 28
Check out the BoardSmith. Dave will make you anything you want. Make sure to order end grain. I have a gorgeous walnut 18X12X2 that is almost too pretty to use.

Buzz :smoking:
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
post #12 of 28
Every time this comes up, I repeat my son's experience.

He had a cabinet-making shop for eight or nine years. Early on, he bought a semi-trailer load of hard-maple cutoffs from a bowling-alley constructor. He made a LOT of cutting boards. (Also quite a few cabinets.)

He did some research, and found several technical papers from academics at the Dept. of Food Science at the Univ. of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. These concluded that wood cutting boards were the most sanitary, since they sucked pathogens from the cut material down into the wood, where the pathogens died.

Of course, you can't put wood boards into a dishwasher- scrub them under your hottest water, wipe dry, and set out to dry most thoroughly. To season, rub with USP-grade mineral oil, which will not go rancid.

Mike
travelling gourmand
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travelling gourmand
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post #13 of 28
I saw a 15 x 17 end grain board at Lowes today.

HERE

For fifty bucks it's a deal compared to the customs. I inspected the labeling and it did not say what kind of wood from which it was made but it looked quite good.

It's sure to be nicer to your edges than edge grain, poly, glass, bamboo with all its glue, marble, etc. The exceptions of course are Sani-Tuff rubber boards and air carving. :smoking:

Buzz
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
post #14 of 28
Several have mentioned the liklihood of wood boards getting marked by the knief edges. This is true, but a badly-scarred wood board - of any grain orientation - can be easily restored with a belt sander and then re-seasoned with USP mineral oil.

Mike
travelling gourmand
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travelling gourmand
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post #15 of 28
I was ignoring those comments, Mike, cuz I don't understand them as a criticism. No wood board I've ever seen scratches and cuts as readily as the plastic ones. And, unlike wood, once the plastic gets marred it's finished, as the cuts become bacterial breeding grounds.

Synthetic cutting boards only have two advantages. First, they're cheap. So you (not you, Mike, those other guys) can throw them away to your heart's content. And, second, they can be put in the dishwasher---something you never want to do with a wooden board.

Other than that, wood has it all over synthetics on any level you care to name. They are safer to work on (from both physical and biological viewpoint); more effective; longer lasting; and aesthetically pleasing. And they do not dull knife edges the way virtually every other material does.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #16 of 28
Penelope: As more and more comments attach to this thread, I keep forgetting to say, if you're short don't get a board more than 1" thick. Kitchen counter height is usually close to the maximum comfortable work height for most smaller women. You'll spend a lot of time working on your board, don't make thing uncomfortable for yourself. Takes the "Joy" right out of Cooking.

On another front: I also prefer wood for lots of reasons. But for aesthetic, longevity and knife preservation reasons, not food safety.

I thought so too, until a year ago when the subject came up with a friend. The latest science, about ten years old, shows that wood and poly boards are the same from a safety stand point. Cost me a bet.

There are any number of new "food surface" disinfectants that do a great job as bactericides. I like a solution of water and 10% bleach. Bleach is the latest thing in food safety, you know.

BDL
post #17 of 28
The very obvious exception being Sani-Tuff rubber boards.

Buzz :smoking:
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
post #18 of 28
Yes to Sani-Tuff. And when all is said and done, Sani-Tuff might be Penelope's best choice because you can get so much board on such a thin platform. What's the thickest "residential" board? About 3/4" IIRC. A 1/2" Sani-Tuff would last her forever, and, if she has small hands and pinch grips, give her enough knuckle clearance. Otherwise, go with the 3/4" You still listening, Penny?

We guys, especially we knife guys (which, admit it, is a kind of OCD) get lost in the minutiae of our own little weird opinions and forget that what we like and think is best isn't best for everyone.

Someone must like santokus,
BDL
post #19 of 28
Knot eye. :smoking:
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
post #20 of 28
Hey, KYH...

If I was criticizing you, I didn't realize it. And didn't intend it.

I thought we were both on the same side in the cutting board wars. :crazy:

Whatever.

Mike :(
travelling gourmand
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travelling gourmand
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post #21 of 28
No, Mike, I didn't think you were criticizing me. We are on the same side.

What I meant was that I wasn't bothering with those who criticized wood because it scratched etc. Anyone whose ever seen the gouges left in a plastic board by even dullish knives knows how silly a criticism that is.

I would say that any board which needs a belt sander for restoration has been seriously abused. Most of the time, steelwool alone will take care of any marrs.

BDL: Are we talking about the same thing when we say "safety?" I don't know of any wooden board that catches a blade and causes it to drag and stick. After almost losing the tip of a finger when that happened with a synthetic board I vowed never to use one again.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #22 of 28
KYH,

I referred to the biological aspects only. I seem to recall that you referred to biological as well as physical, but perhaps am mistaken. Speaking of mistakes, I am informed by SWMBO (not to mention she who would know) that we use a significantly more commercial "kitchen surface" disinfectants and use them more often than bleach. All of this is so much water under the bridge. We appear to have lost the OP quite some time ago.

BDL
post #23 of 28
If you're still looking for Boos cutting boards, Sur La Table also carries them.
post #24 of 28
See the complete line on the manufacturer's site and buy them there if you can't beat the price elsewhere.

Edit: Just did a some price comparisons and the boos factory has excellent prices and the full monty of boards. Also kitchen retailers don't offer the huge variety available from the source.
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
post #25 of 28

I don't know why this post popped up after 7 years, but I did notice that kyheirloomer was completely wrong in his description of end-grain boards being "the strongest," as well as how they are built.  English majors really should refrain from getting technical.

 

 

Rick

post #26 of 28

If you search around this forum you'll see that Boos has had some real problems with QC.  I myself went with BoardSmith of NC but had to wait about 6 weeks for delivery of my cutting board.  End-grain nonetheless.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply
post #27 of 28

On KKF Dave announced that he found the right company to take over Boardsmith production, recently revealed to be John Loftis of Lone Star Artisans.  Their knowledge will be combined and the boards should be as good as ever.  I've admired LSA's work, and they are now shipping boards through the Boardsmith site.

 

This of course is great news for those who don't want to play Russian Roulet with Boos and the others.

 

 

Rick

post #28 of 28

Check out Dean Supply in the Cleveland area.  Many of the professional chefs in the area shop there.

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