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Need advice on chopping board and their maintenance

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

I am going to get my knives soon and am looking into getting an end grain board for them. I currently own an end grain type.


Which wood should I choose? I've seen mainly Acacia and Beech, are these good enough or should I look for something else?


Also in terms of maintaining them, so far I've been hand-washing my end grain board directly on the sink. But I've read a few mentions that this is completely wrong, anybody could give guidelines?


Also should I use the end grain board on everything, or are there some tasks better suited for the edge grain boards?


And bonus question: how do you maintain wa handles? Should I do anything special or is washing them and drying them straight after enough?

post #2 of 16

It is my understanding that Acacia is high in silica, so I would (and did) avoid that, as well as Bamboo, for the same reason.


Stick with native (US) hardwoods in end-grain configuration and you can't go wrong.


Maple is the hardest, followed by walnut followed by cherry.

post #3 of 16

 Maple, mahogany, walnut and cherry are excellent choices, and work equally well.  However, other woods are good too.  Honestly, I'm not sure about acacia or beech. 


The problem with bamboo boards is not the amount of silica in the grass (bamboo is grass, not wood), but the amount of glue needed to glue the boards together.  


With end grain construction the hardness of the wood is less important than other types of boards.  The whole point of end grain is that it "opens" to accept the knife. 


NEVER soak a wooden board in the sink.  DO wipe your board with a damp rag frequently during prep to keep it clean.  When it needs sanitizing, after cutting raw proteins for instance, use a spray bottle with a very dilute solution of bleach or use a commercial sanitizer in some sort spritz container. 


Oil the board as needed.  There are "special" board oils and board waxes, but regular, food-grade, mineral oil works just fine.  New boards typically need plenty of oil before they're fully oiled.  Oil them generously, every day, until they stop absorbing oil.  Then either oil every two or three months, or sooner if you notice the board becoming dry.  Always oil the edges and both sides of the board to help make sure the board doesn't shrink and/or swell unevenly.


If your board doesn't have feet but sits flat on the counter:  Ensure the counter surface under the board is completely dry, especially if the counter gets wet; reverse the board on a regular basis to make sure both sides get equal wear.  


Hope this helps,


post #4 of 16

Few more points:  Use a single-wood board to avoid the problems of uneven shrinkage/expansion;  Cherry is the lightest, so unless you have a dedicated space for your board cherry makes good sense for something that will get moved around, like from counter top to Microwave top, etc, etc.  Some spouses just don't tolerate large pieces of wood on the counters.  Lonestar Artisans is a name I haven't heard mentioned around here, but they seem to know their stuff, I like the way they arrange the rings in their endgrain, and can easily do custom sizes.



Edited by Rick Alan - 1/17/13 at 6:50pm
post #5 of 16

Acacia and (European) Beech are acceptable choices for end-grain boards. The only issue I have read is that acacia can sometimes have too many gaps and voids in the wood, leading to more fillers used, and is a bit too hard (on Janka scale) for edge-grain boards.

post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the advice.


I am based in the UK, and the most commonly available chopping board (think are in Acacia or Beech). I will be doing research to see if I can find handmade boards instead of going for a brand.


BDL thanks for the maintenance tips, one question though, mineral oil doesn't seem common at all here, and the ones I found seems too expensive for what they are: here and here

Is there an alternative you would recommend or is it better to stick with food-safe mineral oil?

post #7 of 16

Mineral oil that is used as a laxative is fine too...

might also be known as liquid paraffin and white oil (ask your local chemist), though only those that are used as a laxative that you ingest should be considered.

post #8 of 16

What Wubu said. 



post #9 of 16

been using mineral oil on my boards, wooden handles and on my carbon steel knives and straight razor. 


i buy them off the drug store. cheap, tons of it available. easily procured. no brainer really.

post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the info & link! I'm now all sorted :)

post #11 of 16

In Europe, Beech and Birch are the woods to use.  Either will work well and provide years of use with proper care.   Maple is the standard here in the States and cherry and walnut works well.  Woods to avoid are Teak - high silica, spalted wood, cedar oir other wood the insects will avoid and some of the exotics contain oils which may be toxic to humans.  Acacia mentioned above is full of voids and requires a high amount of filler. 


Proper care is sanitizing properly and oiling.  Sanitizing is washing with warm water running over the surface and using a good detergent followed by rinsing and drying.  Do not soak in a pool of water or put in a dishwasher.  Oiling is necessary to help avoin stains or odors.  Wiping down with a solution will help to keep a board sanitary. A mixture of vinegar to water 1:1 works well and better than straight vinegar. The upside of this is that it is food safe. Mixing 1 tablespoon of water to a quart of water works well but isn't as food safe as vinegar.  


Yes, you can easily over oil!  To much oil will result in oil rising to the surface and pooling or dripping from the bottom.  Oil when the area used most begins to appear lighter in color and don't forget to oil the bottom and sides occasionally.  (I have seen boards that were over oiled drip oil from the underside.  What a mess.)  In Europe mineral oil is also known as parrafin oil.   

David The BoardSMITH
David The BoardSMITH
post #12 of 16

For what it's worth, for those on a tight budget who can't shell out $100+ on a board, Ikea sells a 14.5 x 14.5 x 1.5 " Birch board for $25 here in Canada (which means it's probably $5 in the US). Not a bad place to start until you can get something really nice. 


I'd also be interested to know if anyone knows what kind of wood this board is . I picked it up at a local discount retailer a couple of years ago thinking I had the greatest thing ever but am starting to realize that it's probably not actually the "greatest thing ever." I don't know what "Asian Hardwood" or where it falls on the "knife safe" scale...all of that Janka stuff..

post #13 of 16
Asian hardwood is also known as rubberwood. Generally they use the trees that are at the end of their rubber latex producing potential in plantations. Insects do feed on the tree, and the seeds are sometimes used to feed animals, but some plantations do use arsenic to control the insect population, so that might be an issue. Janka is in the 950-1000 range, and is generally closed grained, so it's an good ok wood.

edit: forgot that rubberwood does have quality control issues tongue.gif
Edited by Wubu - 1/27/13 at 4:37pm
post #14 of 16

You see a lot of rubberwood creeping into stores as cheap kitchen table/chair dinging sets, and other cheap furniture.  It splits very easily.............

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #15 of 16

The splitting may have to do with how the wood is not properly treated. Some rubberwood products will split when introduced to the lower humidity in the colder climates.


Rubberwood is generally pressure treated to prevent fungal decay (which raises the moisture levels) and needs to be properly dried. 

post #16 of 16

Thanks for the info. Honestly, it seems to work just fine - no splitting that I've seen and no noticeable dulling of knives. I know that someday I'll want a "really nice" board but I find I don't even use this one all that often because it's big and heavy and we have relatively limited counter space so I tend to grab my Kitchenaid bamboo boards (yes, I've since learned that those aren't ideal for knife edges) because they're easy to move around. 

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