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Opinions on using "Larch Wood" for chopping blocks/boards?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

A Canadian company is starting to get some mention when asked for chopping block/cutting board recommendations. How is "Larch Wood" on sharp knives. Is it too hard? I know teak is. As much as i like teak (e.g. patio furniture). The Boardsmith International FAQ says that a rating of over 1600 is too hard. Teak happens to be one of those woods. Don't know about "Larch wood". Never heard of it before i began looking into buying a quality end-grain board.

post #2 of 17

The Larch!  Reminds me of a Monty Python bit.  Larch is a very common wood in Europe.  I'm really happy lately using large bamboo cutting boards.  The knives seem to like it and I've not noticed any real punishment issues.  Always remember that butchers have been happy with nice, heavy oak blocks for generations - they will take a cleaver's punishment, to say nothing of all the tools in a chef's arsenal.  They are available on line and a nice block is not a painful investment for a serious home cook.  Besides, they look great in almost any kitchen and will last, well, for generations.

post #3 of 17

It's not the hardness of teak that is bad for knives.  Teak contains small bits of silica--sand, actually that is (deleted) on woodowrking equipment and, I guess, on knives as well.

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post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by foodpump View Post

It's not the hardness of teak that is bad for knives.  Teak contains small bits of silica--sand, actually that is (deleted) on woodowrking equipment and, I guess, on knives as well.

I'm just going on what I read regarding woods being too hard. Here is the paragraph from The Boardsmith Interational" FAQ...

 

  • Is there a wood that is to 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.

 

And, being that Larch wood is popular in Europe does that mean it's a good wood for sharp knives? Does it compare to maple? 

post #5 of 17

It's softer than maple.  Google  "Janka hardness for woods" to find out what the specific hardness it is. 

 

I'm pretty sure the Europeans don't like to dull thier knives on cutting boards, but I can speak from persoanal experieence that most commerical kitchens in Europe (and the world over) use the nylon cutting boards.

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post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 

Larch wood is indeed softer than maple (http://tinytimbers.com/pdf/chart_janka.pdf). So, I guess I will be considering a larch wood board as one of my choices. Do I go with an end-grain larch wood board or a Black Loon maple edge-grain board? Hmmm... :)

post #7 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by foodpump View Post

Teak contains small bits of silica--sand, actually that is (deleted) on woodowrking equipment and, I guess, on knives as well.

 

Neither teak nor Bamboo contain "sand".  They contain silicon or silicic acid but IIR those compounds are found in plants and proteins as well.  Nylon boards are much harder on an edge IMO.

 

Dave

I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
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post #8 of 17

Ehhh-No...

 

Teak does include small pockets of silica and I have worked with teak as a woodworker quite a bit.  It dulls my turning tools (on the lathe) much, much faster than with any harder wood like padouk or Ipe, it chews up the edges of my chisels and plane irons, and dulls the teeth on my handsaws very quickly. You can feel the small pockets of grit when cutting it with hand tools.  Many commercial woodworkers refuse to work with it specifically because of the problems I listed. When I worked in Asia, I never saw a teak cutting board--many other types of wood, but not teak--despite of it's water repeling and self oiling properties.

 

Nylon is pretty soft, as evidenced by the easy scarring it bears after a few days of use.  I have cut nylon cutting boards with power and hand tools, smoothed  nylon surfaces with power and hand tools, and find it much easier on my tool edges--it doesn't contain any grit in it.  It's also the cutting board of my choice in kitchens I work in--toss it in the d/washer when it's dirty and that's it.  When it gets too scarred, run it through a thickness planer and get two brand new surfaces again.

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post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by foodpump View Post

Ehhh-No...

 

Teak does include small pockets of silica and I have worked with teak as a woodworker quite a bit. 

 

uhhh yeah but that's still not sand. Cartilage, blood, cucumbers, oats etc ad nauseam all contain silica which is an essential nutrient so most of us are cutting silica in some form on a regular basis. Remember Louis Pasteur?

I can't say I've ever seen a Teak cutting board either and I wouldn't want a cutting board made out of wood that hard. I've seen this similar debates about bamboo. Never had an issue with it in regards to edge retention but it's certainly not my first choice for a plethora of reasons but then neither is nylon or any of the Sani-safe type of cutting boards.

 

 

Dave


Edited by DuckFat - 6/17/12 at 3:54am
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
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post #10 of 17

Bamboo is actually a grass, but it has a lot of neat and usefull properties.  I have seen bicycles made with it, and it is still used today for scaffolding of many hi-rises in Asia--it is tough.

 

However it is round and hollow, and to make a flat surface with it, you need to cut it into strips and glue these strips together.  Because of this, the ratio of glue lines to wood is fairly high, so you have a lot of glue lines in your surface.  Most, if not all modern waterproof glues are hell on knife edges.

 

As far as I'm concerned, whatever cutting board surface you choose is what you choose.  Maple cutting boards look classy under a prime rib at the carver's station.  But I've given holy( deleted) to staff who've grabbed that same cutting board and used it all day to banquet bone turkeys, give it a cursary wipe with a rag, and pronounce it clean and sanitary on account of some magical hocus-pocus of the capilary action of wood or some-such.

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post #11 of 17

No doubt bamboo has a lot of good uses but the amount of glue combined with the unknown glue content for boards made in China is disconcerting at best. All cutting boards have be be properly sanitized. Maple has some beneficial properties but that's never going to compensate for basic sanitation. Speaking of wood working I'm in the middle of re-building a deck and I need a compound miter saw. I never realized there were others here that liked working with wood.

 

 

Dave

I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
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post #12 of 17

I'm required to use plastic at work. I've been happy with bamboo at home, though.

post #13 of 17

Count me in with the Nylon group.  I remember cleaning wood butcher blocks... no thanks!

post #14 of 17

I saw Oak mentioned, But I see much more maple or walnut in the endblock cutting boards. Is this traditional, or due to the fact that they hold up better?

Im thinking of making some boards up, and have access to a huge amount of red and white oak lumber, just dont want ot start using it if there ia a reason not to!.

 

Also on board size and thickness. Ive seen then from 2" thick to 4" thick, and sizes vary greatly. What are the best sizes to consider making?

 

Thanks and God Bless

Mike

post #15 of 17

Maple is finer grained, which is why it's preffered.  White oak is good, was/is used for ship building, but it is not as fined grained as maple.  Red oak-------well, I'll let you do an experiment"

 

Take a stick of red oak, put one end (end grain) of it in a glass of water, and blow on the other,.  Tiny bubbles.......The stuff is so porous you can blow air through it, best suited for furniture making..

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post #16 of 17

Red Oak makes dandy fire wood.

I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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post #17 of 17

Thanks Foodpump. I appreciate the input. After doing some research and pricing Maple, I can see why the price is so high on them!

 

God Bless,

Mike

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