So You Want To Buy A Cutting Board….   2 comments

Every home has a kitchen. Every kitchen has at least one cutting board. When the cook – or the cook’s really good friend – decides they need a new board, then the conversation begins.

Let’s start with the pretty.

There are 2 basic kinds of cutting boards, which are called edge grain (they are “stripey”) and end grain (they have lots of small squares, and often remind people of quilts or chess boards).

Edge grain cutting board. Cutting Board 17 – 141. Yellowheart, Canarywood, Hard Maple & Jatoba. 14″ x 18″ x 1-1/4″.

End grain cutting board. Cutting Board 17 – 433. Jatoba, Hard Maple & Canarywood. End grain. 16″ x 21″ x 1-1/2″. Commissioned piece.

Both can be great cutting boards. The end grain boards are like the classic butcher block, and they do show less wear over time. With an end grain, you cut on the ends of the boards. The grain of the wood is facing up, and the knife goes between the grain when you cut. Then, when you oil the board, the grain heals itself and the cuts almost disappear.

With edge grain, on the other hand, you actually score wood fibers when you cut. However, I only use very hard wood, and they don’t mark as easily as a plastic or soft wood board that many people are used to.

So, that’s the first question for you to answer:

  1. Do you like stripes or squares?

Edge grain boards (stripes) will be less expensive, as they are easier to make. End grain boards take more time in the shop, and require a lot more sanding to make smooth. I prefer end grain boards personally; I enjoy the challenge of making them. Velda’s main board, though, is an edge grain. She likes stripes … so that’s what she’s got.

Once you answer that first question, the questions get a bit easier.

Second question:

2. What size do you want?

Boards come in many sizes. For me, I call “cutting boards” anything that’s 12″ x 16″ or larger. Normally, I make 3 sizes: 12″ x 16″, 14″ x 18″, and 16″ x 21″. Those are counter top boards, and many people leave them on their counter for daily use. I do make larger boards upon request, but I don’t keep larger sizes in my inventory.

Some people prefer smaller boards: if you’re only going to slice an onion or trim the crust from a sandwich, you may want what I call a Cheese Board (about 8″ x 11″ and thin, at 5/8″. Small. Lightweight.) or a Small Board (about 6″ x 11″ x 1″. More robust, but still small enough to move around easily.)

Cheese Board 16 – 054. Purpleheart, Birds Eye Maple, Goncalo Alves, Jatoba, Bloodwood & Yellowheart. 9″ x 11″ x 3/4″.

 

Small Board 17 – 246. Hard Maple, Padauk & Purpleheart. 10″ x 11″ x 1″.

Again, no wrong answers here. Some people want a larger, counter top board for daily use, and then supplement it with a few small boards for individual needs. Some people, cooking for one, only want a small board. That’s OK; you’re an adult. You get to choose.

A good cutting board should be at least 1″ thick, I believe. That makes it strong enough to become a reliable kitchen tool. Thinner boards are fine for cutting … but not pounding. The thickest boards I normally make are 1-1/2″. That’s as thick as they need to be for function. If you want a thicker board because you want the look of a big, thick hunk of wood on the counter, no problem. I can make it – and you’ll have to lift it to clean it. Your option.

I do make handled cutting boards, which I call Sous Chef boards. Those are made to be mobile, and move from counter to table to stove top as needed. I also make in-counter boards, commonly called bread boards because they have “bread board ends.” These relatively thin boards are made for 2-sided use, and often are stored in a slot under the counter top, above the silverware drawer. Both the Sous Chef boards and the in-counter boards do not have the non-skid rubber feet found on the other boards described on this page.

Sous Chef 17 – 917. Purpleheart & Birdseye Maple. Large size, with the work space approximately 11″ x 15″, with the handle extending for an additional 6″.

Sous Chef 17 – 902. Bubinga & Hard Maple. The work surface is 9″ x 12″, with the handle extending another 4″.

Cutting Board 17 – 129. Black Walnut, Birdseye Maple & Padauk. Bread board ends. 16″ x 20″ x 3/4″. Commissioned Piece.

Next question:

3. Do you want a juice groove?

Juice grooves help catch the, uh, juices and crumbs that you generate as you work on your cutting board. Cooks that are moving meat from the grill to the kitchen often find that a juice groove will help contain the liquids that flow from juicy meat. Some just like to keep their counter tidy; even tomatoes leak a bit when they are diced.

Juice grooves are often small and pretty much non-functional, in my opinion. I make juice grooves larger than many craftsman … and have made them very large on my meat carving board.

Carving Board – the poultry side. The graduated ribs of the oval are perfect to hold the fowl in place as you carve.

Carving Board – the beef and pork side. Hard Maple. 14″ x 19″ x 1-1/4″.

Next question:

4. What kinds of wood do you want in your board?

I use about 25 species of wood, all chosen for their beauty as well as their suitability to make an exceptional cutting board.

Please note that I *never* color a wood artificially. I use fresh, all natural lumber and only treat it with FDA-approved mineral oil and beeswax. The oil and wax protect the wood from water; a properly treated cutting board will last for decades. Read about the care of your cutting board here.

The FDA says a commercial cutting board should be made from Hard Maple or its equivalent. Hard Maple is “close grained.” An alternative would be Red Oak, which is a common hardwood, but is very “open grained.” I do not put Red Oak in cutting boards for that reason.

The woods I do use are all selected for their hardness and beauty. Some boards I make are plain – perhaps even made from just one wood, like Black Walnut. Others are what I call colorific. No wrong answer here.

For a gallery of things I’ve made that highlight most of the woods I use, go here.

Final question:

5. Are you picking up the board from my home in Santa Clarita, or where should I ship it?

Happy to ship the board as needed. I charge you my direct shipping costs only.

Here are the features common to every board:

  • The board is saturated with food-grade mineral oil, which is FDA approved. This is the only oil I recommend you use to treat your board.
  • I finish each board with a top coat of hand-rubbed “board butter,” which is a combination of locally-harvested beeswax mixed with mineral oil. Both the oil and the wax help the board repel water.
  • Non-skid rubber feet held on with stainless steel screws.
  • Routed fingerholds on 2 edges.

All of these boards are made by me in my shop. If you want to order a board from my current inventory, tell me what you’re looking for and I’ll give you some options. Want to come by the house to see what I’ve got? No problem; we’ll set an appointment.

If you want a custom board, I’ll talk to you about the design that you want. I’ll send you options, and then you can choose the exact wood design that you want. From that point, I’ll start your board when I make my next batch. Generally, I can custom make a board to your specific desires and deliver it in about a month. Or maybe 6 weeks. Sometimes that becomes longer if I have projects backed up, and as the holidays approach, all bets are off. I do my best to communicate how work is progressing; you’re welcome to ask me for updates any time.

Thank you for considering my cutting boards. This totally out of control hobby is a labor of love for me, and I appreciate your support.

 

 

 

2 responses to “So You Want To Buy A Cutting Board….

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  1. Pingback: The Things New Cutting Board Makers Always Ask: The Making | MowryJournal.com

  2. Pingback: The Things New Cutting Board Makers Always Ask: The Finishing | MowryJournal.com

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