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Feb 18, 2010 03:47 PM

Knife Cuts in Totally Bamboo board?

I picked up a set of three Totally Bamboo cutting boards on sale at Sur La Table recently. I washed and oiled each one with mineral oil, and after one use, the first one I used already shows cuts from the knife. I usually use plastic so I'm not used to wood boards. Is this normal or because I didn't oil daily for first week as recommended on Chow board (found recommendation after the fact)? Is the first one ruined? I am now oiling each one each day.

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  1. Knife cuts are normal. I bet you have knife cuts on your plastic boards and you just did not notice them. You should really worry if you don't have knife cuts on a board because that means the board is much harder than your knife edge, like a glass cutting board or granite cutting board or....

    By the way, why bamboo cutting boards? I rather have wood.

    1. I agree. Cutting boards should have scarring and some colors and types of boards show it more than others. I have a couple Totally Bamboo boards and both show scarring. I also never oil them, and they have stood up just fine.

      On the other hand, I usually don't use them with my best knives because bamboo is harder than other cutting board materials and can be tougher on cutlery. What I do use it for is bread cutting because my bread knife shreds boards and the bamboo tends to hold its own.

      1. knife cuts are normal. However, when I first started sharpening my knives I noticed that they often stuck in the maple cutting board. Was my knife too sharp? Not really but my technique was off. With a really sharp knife you don't need to put much pressure into your cuts. I don't think you need to oil your board daily. You will develop a lot of cuts over time. After a while, if they bother you, you can sand the board down and reoil

        1. I have been using a bamboo board for several years, and I've never given it any special care except to wash it. I use for veggie cutting. It is scarred, but it works fine. I have a larger, newer bamboo board, treated the same. I've not noticed that either dulls my knives.

          1 Reply
          1. re: sueatmo


            Just curious, can you put a bamboo board in a dishwasher? My guess is a no, but I don't know for sure. I do know a bamboo cutting board is harder than most wood boards and it absorbs less water, so it probably will not swell up in the dishwasher. However, the heating and drying cycle may be bad for it. Moreover, unlike wood, when bamboo splits, it really splits. (wood sometimes can heal itself from small split and crack).

          2. Why they are the rage I do not know but bamboo is a bit hard/dense for a cutting board. Buy a good end cut wooden board and it will last forever.
            John Boos or JK Adams or the below link.



            12 Replies
            1. re: jeffreyem


              You mean you don't know why bamboo boards are popular? They are the bombs, man! (actually I have no idea either)

              My guess is that they look very cool (I really like their looks) They are easier to clean than a wood cutting board because they don't absort much water and they are advertised as environmentally friendly. Personally, I take the environmental friendly thing with grain of salt.

              Bamboo is harder than most wood, so it is a bit harsh on the knives.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                The wood boards don't absorb much water if you give them a good beeswaxing every once in a while.

                1. re: jeffreyem

                  Agree. In fact, I think I put too much beesmax on my chopping block because I cannot feel the wood fiber anymore.

                2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  Bamboo is considered eco-friendly because it is highly renewable--it grows quickly & spreads fast, all without using much water or any pesticides or fertilizer. Source:

                  1. re: oriolesno9

                    That is true, but there are also bad bamboo board producers I think. You may be using a renewable resource, but it also takes glues to put the boards together, and I don't trust all of the bamboo producers on managing that process well. I read somewhere a while back that some bamboo boards are worse for knives and less food friendly.

                    1. re: smkit

                      " bamboo boards are worse for knives and less food friendly."

                      Worse for knives, I heard. How is a bamboo board worse for food?

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        I heard there were some concerns that the cheaper board makers were using non-food-safe glues and some of the petroleum additives might not be good for food, but that may have been a ways back when bamboo boards were new and there were a lot of cheap ones flooding the market. I wish I could remember where I was reading about it. I remember the advice was to stick to better known producers.

                        Regardless, the curing, processing, and gluing that goes into the making of the bamboo boards IMO allows more opportunity for non-natural products or bad glues to get into the board. I'm even picky when I buy my normal wood cutting boards, and I always make sure they use titebond III glue, which is one of (if not the) best food-safe glues out there.

                        If regular wood cutting boards can use bad glues, then the bamboo process which relies more heavily on glues seems as if it would be more exposed to such problems. How many Chinese plants are churning out bamboo cutting boards??

                3. re: jeffreyem

                  :: Why they are the rage I do not know ::

                  Bamboo boards are cheaper, lighter weight, easier to clean, and need less maintenance than good maple etc. boards. That's why they're all the rage.

                  Too many cooks are using too-small cutting boards; for less than $30 they could be spreading out on an easy-to-keep-clean bamboo board. But Ruhlman and Alton Brown and you and many others imply there's nothing worthwhile short of end-grain maple, which at an adequate size is four times as much money.

                  1. re: ellabee

                    You can find 18" end grain boards for $30 or less on amazon, at target, and Walmart. Not to say anything against expensive custom board makers, but these cheaper end grain boards are comparably easy on a knife's edge to the expensive boards, and seem to be pretty durable IME. Maple is not the only wood worth making an end grain board out of - there are many hardwoods that make for a fine board.

                    Is a bamboo board actually any easier to clean or maintain than an end grain board? I know people with end grain boards often take extra steps in cleaning and treating the board, but that might just be that people with end grain boards are generally more interested in protecting their equipment (w/r/t knives, that's why you get an end grain board in the first place). Doesn't bamboo risk the same hazards from water damage that a wood board does?

                    1. re: ellabee

                      Well, I do own two bamboo boards and still use them, but I use them less now that I realize how they are harder on my knives. That is the tradeoff with bamboo, but most people probably wouldn't notice lower cutting performance, especially if their knives aren't well maintained.

                      Btw, you can also get end-grain boards in many different woods (I have ash, sapelle, black walnut, and cherry -- no maple). And three of those are small boards that are light weight, much cheaper, and easy to move and clean. One was only $28 off of etsy.

                      It is true that end-grain boards take a bit more attention to avoid warping especially smaller/thinner ones, but I wouldn't say that they take a lot more maintenance. Oiling occasionally is not that much of an issue, and I have also oiled my bamboo boards when they started looking really dry.

                      1. re: smkit

                        My favourite cutting board is a solid slab of cherry about 2" thick and 10" square. It isn't end grain but I prefer side grain and no glue. I bought it as a student at a specialty lumber supply from their off cut bin. I've had it for 20 years and I've never done anything special to care for it other than washing only briefly in hot soapy water.

                        1. re: crawfish

                          For 25 years I cut on a foot-square board. Thankfully, one day it split in two, giving me the spur to replaced it with an 18x24 bamboo board. It's been a huge boost to productivity!

                          It's depressing to think of all the wasted time and motion from those decades of having to move cut ingredients off the board to make room to work. I have to think the constant stop and start is also, over a long period, a subtle but pernicious obstacle to improved knife skills.

                          Just my experience -- I understand fondness for a particular board may outweigh that for many. But ifor those not wedded to a small one, try out a big surface and see if you don't enjoy cutting and prep a lot more...