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Some Wood Cutting Board/Butcher Block Questions

Mon Jul 29, 2013 9:27 pm

Ok...so I just got what I think is a truly good knife...now for a block. I've used Bamboo for a while, but mainly because it was cheap and I had it and I had conditioner for it...I know it's not great for blades as it is hard as it is and glued together, so based on what I have read here, I am ready for something like Maple or something with similar capability.

I'd like to get one nicer block rather than a mediocre set...and I'll use it for everything except raw proteins. Maple seems to be the wood of choice, but I've noticed a few others are possible. So...
1) How does cherry, walnut, acacia, ironwood, and teak compare to maple? I see a lot of teak, walnut, and ironwood products, some of which are combined with maple, in absolutely beautiful patterns but am curious as to the performance aspect.
2) Are any of the more common brand names making good boards/values like John Boos? (they are well-rated on Amazon).
3) For general usage, what size should I get for general usage? I've been looking at the sizes ranging fro 12x10 to 18x12. I would not be opposed to one small and one large, with the large one being the nicer one I put the money in.

Thank you! :)

Re: Some Wood Cutting Board/Butcher Block Questions

Mon Jul 29, 2013 9:53 pm

The other reason is that I found a teak board I really like...but am not sure how it stacks up to maple.
http://www.amazon.com/Proteak-Cutting-R ... ting+board


Re: Some Wood Cutting Board/Butcher Block Questions

Mon Jul 29, 2013 10:14 pm

I bought that Proteak cutting board from Amazon, but it arrived damaged, so I returned it. It looked fine and appeared to be decently made, but I wanted an end grain board made with bigger individual pieces.

So I emailed John from Lone Star Artisans and talked about getting a couple boards made up. I ended up getting a large 18x24 board in Cherry and a smaller edge grain board made up in walnut. Both boards are beautiful and have held up well to use in my kitchen. They gotten darker over time than when I first got it, due to repeated use and oiling. The cherry board stays on my counter all the time and we get a lot of compliments on it. It's really a beautiful piece.

To answer your questions:
1) Maple seemed like the most common wood, and I think it's also the hardest. I picked cherry as a compromise between cost and compatibility with my (wife's) kitchen decor. Acacia and teak seem to be cheaper, but are also made of smaller pieces == more glue.
2) John Boos makes a good mass produced board. I have a maple edge grain that's probably about 5 years old. Over time, the strips that make up the surface aren't even any more. Their end grain boards get quite expensive and I think you can do better for the price. My board could also use a good sanding, but since the LSA board stays on my counter, I haven't bothered. I've heard good things about michigan maple block as a cheaper alternative to john boos.
3) Get the biggest that will fit on your counter (and in your budget)! I love the extra room when I'm doing a lot prep work. I don't do raw proteins on the board though. I have either a large poly board or some smaller compressed wood board for that.

I highly recommend you contact John @ Lone Star Artisans!

Re: Some Wood Cutting Board/Butcher Block Questions

Tue Jul 30, 2013 5:31 am

+1 on what vinhster says.

Measure your counter and get the biggest board that fits your kitchen. If you want to get a second, smaller board that is not a bad idea too, but you will be happy to have your large, workhorse board.

From my experience any of the woods you mention will work just fine, just make sure they are end grain. 100% recommend Lone Star Artisans. John does beautiful and quality work at a very fair price. Also, he will custom make a board for you, so measure, browse his site and give him a call; you will not be disappointed!

Re: Some Wood Cutting Board/Butcher Block Questions

Tue Jul 30, 2013 7:32 am

I got 4 boards from LSA! I have a big 16.5x17" Walnut with Maple Border, 12"x12" black walnut, got y brother and his wife a small 7x8 Black Walnut board and my mom also as a 7x8, but in cherry. I would get a bigger board and a smaller board, like 16x20 and 14x14 or something like that. Sometimes my 12x12 feels a bit small, but it's easier to clean than the bigger board and gets the most use out of the 3 boards we have. Measure your counter space and see what will fit for your big board dimensions.

Teak has silica in it, which is hard on knife edges. Ironwood is VERY hard and will make edges dull quicker. Acacia, again, smaller pieces = more glue joints, can't remember if the Acacia has any silica or other stuff that isn't knife edge friendly. I looked at them last year, but decided against them for some reason I can't remember. Boardsmith also makes some very nice boards, too.

Re: Some Wood Cutting Board/Butcher Block Questions

Wed Jul 31, 2013 7:40 pm

I've been very happy with The Boardsmith brand. I've got a maple end grain and the fit/finish is top quality. In reference to your question about different woods, there is a good overview on all of this on the Boardsmith site.

Re: Some Wood Cutting Board/Butcher Block Questions

Sat Aug 10, 2013 10:42 am

Thanks so much for the kind words, guys.

I would avoid most exotic woods like teak for cutting boards. Agree that teak is hard on knife edges due to silica content. Ditto with Ipe and some other hardwoods that are commonly used for outdoor/marine use. Stick with the big 3: maple, walnut, and cherry.

Snipes, I agree that the Boardsmith makes an excellent product.


Re: Some Wood Cutting Board/Butcher Block Questions

Sat Aug 10, 2013 7:29 pm

As the previous post mentioned there is a wood hardness spec and recommendation on the Boardsmith website. The most edge forgiving of the big 3 wood is end grain maple, walnut and cherry. Cherry is the softest and maple the hardest but more common . The benefit buying from Lone Star or Boardsmith is that they use American grown hardwood and they are the craftsman that actually make the boards.
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