13 Lies People Tell Me   Leave a comment

HandcraftedI admit I’m a bit obsessed with cutting boards these days. In my defense, I have actually done research into what makes a good cutting board. I know what the government requires for cutting boards in restaurants. And, I’ve made more than a few of these kitchen tools, as well.

So when people lie to me, it gets me riled up. And when I talk to a lot of people at holiday boutiques … people lie to me. I need to get people to stop lying to me, and lying to themselves.

Please, help me stop the lies.

1. It doesn’t matter what cutting board I use.

Yes, yes it does. Different kinds of boards do have different advantages (or, in the case of glass or marble … not). If you’re looking for information about which board might work best for you, check out the link below for Cutting Boards: What Kind Do You Want?

2. Bamboo makes great cutting boards.

Hard Maple, Cherry & Black Walnut. 16" x 12-1/2" x 1-1/4". End Grain.

Hard Maple, Cherry & Black Walnut. 16″ x 12-1/2″ x 1-1/4″. End Grain.

Bamboo does indeed make cutting boards that are inexpensive. However, those boards are made overseas. They’re made with a great deal of glue by workers in third world countries. Bamboo grows quickly, and is a renewable resource … but doesn’t reach maximum hardness until the Bamboo is 5 or 6 years old. If the wood is harvested earlier (and how would you know?), the wood is softer. In addition, the bulbous nature of the wood means that it will dull your knives more quickly than boards made from traditional wood like hard maple or walnut.

3. Bamboo boards are harder than “rock maple” boards.

(This was stated by a seller of bamboo boards). This is simply untrue. “Rock Maple” is a nickname sometimes used for Hard Maple or Sugar Maple. That wood is harder than bamboo.

The hardness of wood is measured by something called the Janka scale. Higher numbers represent harder woods, and here are the scores of the woods that I use for cutting boards … and some that I don’t:

  • Purpleheart: 2,520
  • Jatoba, AKA Brazilian Cherry: 2,350
  • Osage Orange: 2,040
  • Bubinga: 1,980
  • Goncalo Alves, AKA Tigerwood: 1,850
  • Hickory, Pecan: 1,820
  • Yellowheart: 1,790
  • Padauk: 1,725
  • Hard Maple: 1,450
  • Bamboo: 1,380 (one species of Bamboo)
  • Ash: 1,320
  • Bamboo (carbonized): 1,180
  • Teak: 1,155
  • Black Walnut: 1,010
  • Cherry: 995
  • Mahogany: 800
Commissioned piece. 16-1/4" x 12-3/4" x 1-1/2". Hard Maple, Black Walnut, Cherry and Yellowheart. Edge Grain.

Commissioned piece. 16-1/4″ x 12-3/4″ x 1-1/2″. Hard Maple, Black Walnut, Cherry and Yellowheart. Edge Grain.

The hardness of Bamboo is further complicated by the hardness of boards varying between the knuckle or node of the bamboo shoot (which is hardest), and the rest of the plant.  In addition, if the wood fibers of the bamboo shoot are scored (which is something that happens on cutting boards!), then the wood loses more rigidity … so it’s softer.

Bamboo is cheap, which does give it one real advantage over other types of cutting boards.

4. Plastic boards can be sanded smooth to extend their life.

(This was stated by a seller of plastic boards.) Simply, not true. Plastic boards will develop cuts and grooves in their surface over time, and a used board is a better habitat for bacteria. Unfortunately, sanding a plastic board just makes MORE cuts and grooves in the plastic surface. When the plastic board shows wear, replace it.

5. Glass boards are more sanitary than wooden boards.

Absolutely not true. You can read the research studies that are linked in the cutting board article at the bottom, previously referenced.

6. Your boards are at the perfect price point.

End Grain. Hard Maple, Walnut, Yellowheart, Padauk, Cherry. Cutting Board # 13.

End Grain. Hard Maple, Walnut, Yellowheart, Padauk, Cherry. Cutting Board # 13.

A lady actually said this to me … and then she bought 5 boards. So, what am I saying??? If she likes the price point, then good for her. Me, I think prices should go up.

7. These boards are too expensive.

One guy said this to me … and then his wife asked if I made the boards. When I said yes, she then told her husband that the reason the boards are more expensive is that “the artist is on site.” I had nothing to say to that. And the couple didn’t buy anything, for the record.

8. These boards are too pretty to use.

People that say this to me are just inviting an argument. I wonder if their stoves are too pretty to use, too? Or how about their dishwashers?

9. Wooden boards are not sanitary.

Not true. This is not backed up by the science. Wooden boards – with all wood types being shown to be roughly equal – actually have natural anti-bacterial properties.

10. You dye these woods different colors, right?

Never. I only use natural woods with their natural colors.

11. It’s best to treat cutting boards with salad bowl finish.

A fully restored board. The padauk is once again a vibrant orange.

Edge grain. Purpleheart, Canary wood, Padauk, Cherry and Hard Maple.

Nope. Salad bowl finish is fine for, uh, salad bowls. However, this finish is a varnish, and that’s not something that should be applied to a cutting board … and then cut up and served with the food prepared on the board.

12. It’s best to treat cutting boards with olive oil (or walnut oil).

Organic oils are not recommended, as they will eventually turn rancid. Food-safe mineral oil is recommended.

13. I made a board just like this in high school when I was in shop class.

Respectfully, no you didn’t. You may have glued boards together and called it a cutting board … and I’m sure your mother loves it! … but I humbly submit that the work done in a high school shop may not be up to the standards found in Mr M’s Woodshop.

Humbly submitted. And since I’ve now referred to myself in the third person … I’m done.


Cutting Boards: What Kind Do You Want?

 Wikipedia: Janka Hardness Test

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