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Cutting boards?

Just got new knives-- my first good knives ever-- and I want to know which material cutting boards are best for keeping them sharp as long as possible?

Also, do you have any good hints for the actual sharpening of the knives?


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  1. polyethylene for raw meats, and wood for veggies/general use.

    polyethylene boards are easy to clean and sanitize and can even be placed in the dish waster.

    I prefer end grain maple, but bamboo is light, inexpensive and environmentally conscious

    Everyone should have a good quality steel ( I prefer Frd Dick) for daily touch ups. I have a double cut diamond steel, but those can be too pricey for the average home user.

      1. The Epicurean ones are pretty nice... they are made of a wood composite material, which is soft without being too soft, dish washable, and nice looking (IMO).

        Recently, though, I've been using one of the plastic ones with a grippy bottom for almost everything. An instructor at a knife skills class recommended it, and it really does make setup and cleanup much easier. Of course you can put a wet towel or a rubber mat under any cutting board, but having the rubber grippy stuff built in is nice. The one I have is the Architec brand "Gripper". Knife marks do show up on it, but it works great.

        To answer your question more directly... in terms of dulling knives, the composite material Epicurean uses is good for knives, plastic (softish plastic, anyway) is good, wood is good. Glass is BAD (really bad), super hard plastic might not be great.

        And, as mentioned above, hone your knife with a steel before every use.

        1. I'm not so sure the jury is back on the hard plastic boards. Still a subject of debate. I'm still a big wood fan, and have never had a problem with my Boos boards. I am extra careful with chicken though, and bought a rubber board which is really nice. The rubber boards can go in the dishwasher as well, and tend to self heal for cuts. Best prices I've found on them are at J.B. Prince, http://www.jbprince.com/index.asp?Pag...

          Also, Chad Ward did a good tutorial on cutting boards that you can find at: http://www.knifeforums.com/forums/sho...

          1. I think you will find studies stating that both plastic and wood are better than the other.

            I have a BOOS brothers for meat and veggies that are going into the cooking. I also have two sized plastics that meat never meet. Veggies ONLY.

            1. I have a huge Boos board right next to the stove that I use for prepping everything except protein. For meat, poultry, fish, cheese, I use one of several polyethylene boards that goes immediately into the dishwasher after use.

              1. It's nice to have a beefy end-grain hardwood or bamboo board for the majority of your prep, and then something like a biohazard-red polyethylene board for raw meat, fish, and poultry. Never the twain shall meet, and if you keep your wood board oiled, scraped, and occasionally salted overnight, a good one can last nearly forever (I have seen 150-year-old butcher blocks in use).

                When the polyethylene board gets wrecked badly enough that the blade nicks start looking like a juice groove, throw it away and buy a new one. Until then you can rotate one or more of them through the kitchen and dishwasher. This is pretty much what my wife and I settled upon and it works well for us.

                Unless you hate your knives, wood and soft polymers are really the only choice.

                1. I'll add another vote for the Epicurean boards. I've found them to be very similar to wood boards when I'm using them and I love the fact that I can toss it in the dishwasher. Its what I reach for first when I need a board. (I'm fairly fortunate, though, as our rental house has serious and well maintained butcher block counters that are actually the right height at which to cut, so I don't use a board unless I'm working with raw protein of some sort.)

                  1. -----

                    Regardless of any other thoughts, the harder the surface (non-metallic) the better the edge of the knife will be treated. (To the well trained knife user, that is...) Breakage is the only downfall to a textured glass surface otherwise.

                    Barring glass the next best surface is a NSF listed composite cutting board. Epicurean (brand name) can be over priced to some, is very good as it has the hardness and needs no treatments. Bulk sizes (off branded) can be found at most commercial restaurant outlets much reasonable in price. Hardwoods such as oak or maple are good, but needs special handling / treatments to suit ones rushed lifestyle.

                    Poor or barely acceptable cutting boards are food-safe vinyl plastics. They tend to scar rather easily, which is a breeder of bacteria. They tend to warp when cleaned at higher temperature such as in the dishwasher. Expect frequent replacements when using that type of cutting board surface.


                    7 Replies
                    1. re: RShea78

                      I've read a lot about knives and cutting boards, and I've *never* heard anyone recommend a glass cutting board or say that they don't damage knives.


                      "While easier to clean than wood or plastic, glass cutting boards damage knives. Because they have a textured slip resistant surface, and are much harder than the steel of even the highest quality knife, they dull the edge of a knife more quickly."


                      "As I mentioned before, plastic is harder than wood, meaning it will dull a knife faster. Glass cutting boards are harder still."


                      "Avoid cutting on hard surfaces that dull the edge of your knife, such as glass cutting boards. Softer cutting boards, such as polyethylene plastic cutting boards, are much easier on knives."


                      "Glass boards look fabulous, but they are nasty to knives – your knives will dull quickly."

                      These are just from a quick google search... you could find tons of other folks saying the same thing.

                      1. re: will47


                        Unfortunately people have a bad habit of "literally sawing" into the surface, rather than worrying about the food they are actually cutting. So in around about way, more knife miles are spent on the cutting board, than the petty inches of the food being cut. That technique makes just about any surface just as bad as another. Soft or hard.

                        My technique is to slice food with the length of the blade, then drag the tip edge lightly through the food as a final finish cut. So out of 30 or some years I have only needed to dress up a few knives in using a glass surface. So it is their own fault if they insist on trying to hack through any surface.

                        Web-links are useless in this regard, unless we are going to look up cutting board cutting, of which shop tools (or glass cutters) are more suited for. :-p


                        1. re: RShea78

                          All the links I pointed to were referring to cutting stuff ON glass cutting boards. I'm glad it works for you, but I don't think this is a suggestion that is good for the way most ordinary people cut (or, for that matter, the way most chefs cut).

                          You are the only person I have *ever* heard suggest using a glass cutting board, while I have frequently read advice to avoid them, including from cooking class instructors.

                          1. re: RShea78

                            Do you only slice ingredients? What about chopping, dicing, mincing, etc.? There's no way your knife is not going to come into contact with the cutting surface a lot!

                            1. re: pikawicca


                              I "rock" my knife and refrain from "scooting" my knife.

                              I can say I processed thousands of pounds of onions and tomatoes over my lifetime, of which even the chefs will cuss at, without any excessive mechanical (aka- dull knife) problems. Simple little touchups of the knife is all I have done.

                              BTW- Do not forget what I said in my original post, second paragraph, from there on.


                        2. re: RShea78

                          I agree: glass boards are a pain to use (they don't have enough 'give' against the blade), and they are knife killers. As to knife use, a sawing movement lets the blade do the work. Never try to push a knife through food; you crush it, and you risk cuttting yourself. As to sharpening, hold the knife at twenty degrees to the steel, and draw the entire length of the blade against the length of the steel, being sure to keep the angle at the same 20 degrees. Always wipe your knife after use, and after sharpening. Never leave any part of you in the path of an oncoming blade.

                          I found a U-Tube video which is pretty informative. I hope this link works. Good luck!


                          1. re: mymymichl

                            Honing isn't the same as sharpening. There are some steels that will take off a little metal, but steels are basically for honing.

                        3. Others may have made similar comments, but I would strongly urge not getting a glass cutting board - I think they are dangerous (knife slips easily) and ineffective.

                          1. If someone has good luck with glass cutting boards, more power to them, they are the exception, not the rule.

                            For the rest of us buy a surface that will be easier to manage in the cutting process.

                            1. I am a total convert to Bamboo after using plastic and maple and glass (hated the latter). They are lovely, easy to care for and look great after constant use for 3+ years. I have 2 and they still look so good that I often use one as a cheese or bread tray when I set out cheese for guests.