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Sep 20, 2010 07:40 AM

Serrated knife use on cutting board

I have a new walnut end grain cutting board. It has been advised not to use serrated knives (I have only one - a tomato knife) on this type of board. I assume using such a knife will cause cut marks unlike the use of non-serrated knives.

Anyone have any experience with this matter? Maybe I should not worry about it but it is such a beautiful board .....

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  1. Unfortunately, you might well get marks in it anyway. I'd suggest flipping it over to one side for use, while keeping another for "show"

    1. Well, it also depends what kind of a serrated knife you have. A scallop edge (aka reversed serrated edge) is gentler than a traditional serrated knife. Here is an example of a scallop edge.

      A normal serrated knife works as like a saw and will leave a tearing mark on your cutting board. An end grain cutting board can handle normal slice and dice cut from a normal straight edge knife.

      1. What makes an end grain cutting board so great it that the fibers tend to be somewhat self healing, it's kind of like cutting into the end of a paint brush, the fibers move out of the way rather than shear, however, even then with repeated use over an extended time there will be wear on the board. The serrated edge of a tomato knife could be considered more agressive, however, you don't really press that hard to slice a tomato, so I would expect the wear from this serrated knife to be minimal. The same with a serrated bread knife, although that could be a little worse over time as you probly press a little harder with a bread knife. In eather case I would suspect the end grain board to fair far better than the typical edge or face grain cutting board.

        I make my own end grain cutting boards, and we use the serrated tomato and bread knives on them and I can't really say that I see much indication of wear from these knives. Make sure you keep your cutting board well oiled with mineral oil, that will protect the board and make cut marks less noticable.

        1. First off a cutting board is to be used and it will get marked up. It is not a piece of furniture. I'd advise you use it for all your cutting needs. Over time you will get visibly noticeable cuts in the wood that in walnut will not show up much at all. It's not uncommon to sand a cutting board every once in a while and retreat it with board wax. In fact I just sanded my maple board yesterday. It's now smooth as silk but the deep cuts are still visible. But hey, it's a cutting board!

          1. Serrated edges are slightly more prone to scratching the board surface. There are a few reasons for this. As Chem pointed out, the pointier the teeth of the blade, the more chance there is for them to dig in. Also, the sawing motion used with a serrated knife is more likely to scar a board than the rocking or chopping motion of a straight edge knife. Mikie mentioned end grain boards being self-healing - a serrated knife is more likely to scrape the fibers of the board in a way that leaves a scratch rather than parting them harmlessly.

            That said, your board is eventually gonna be scratched if you use it, serrated knives or no. And by far the biggest factor in how quickly and thoroughly it becomes scratched up is how much pressure you apply when you cut. Jamming down into your food and continuing into your board with a straight edge knife is far more destructive than a well-controlled cut with a serrated knife. If you're worried, worry about your cutting technique first and foremost. It's all about control and 'feeling' your cuts.

            BTW: once your board is (inevitably) scratched up, you can sand it with a progression of increasingly fine grits (finishing at maybe 220 depending on how smooth you like it) and then re-season it. Should look pretty much like new.

            2nd and final BTW: if you figure out a way to keep your straight edge knives really sharp, you might find you have very little use for serrated knives and none for small-ish serrated tomato knives. Were it not for the occasional very crusty loaf of bread, I would never pick up a serrated kitchen knife.

            7 Replies
            1. re: cowboyardee

              That is some good advice especially with regard to cutting technique, and I also find that I almost never use serrated knives if I have sharp knives available. Serrated knives are almost exclusively for cutting bread in my home.

              Wtih that said, visitors and family seem to grab my serrated knives more often, especially as my knives get sharper. They don't know which knife to use, don't want to damage them, and are frankly a bit 'scared' of them, so the serrated knife is a popular choice. It is familiar and they know I don't really care about them that much. I use it less, but others seem to use them more now.

              With that said, I generally use my Forschner bread knife on my babmoo board. I know bamboo is harder and it might not be doing my knife any good, but that Forschner-tear-o-matic goes to town on my boards (and hands if you are unlucky enough to experience it).

              1. re: smkit

                I happen to agree with you two. I think serrated/scallop knives are great for bread. I don't think they are necessary for tomatoes though. If your Forschner bread knife can tear up a bamboo board, then it will have an easier time on a wood board since wood is softer.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  I don't use a serrated knife at all. Even very crusty bread is easily cut very cleanly with a sharp knife. Very stale french bread can be a challenge with most any type of blade design.

                  1. re: scubadoo97

                    Well, I bought a scallop bread knife, so I have to use it whenever I can possibly use it. :)

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      My wife or anyone else who needs to cut bread will use mine. Did a sharpening session yesterday. Got 3 standby knives touched up. OMG was it fun this morning cutting tomatoes for breakfast and just now paper thin slices of garlic. I just used my gyuto to take the crust off a stale loaf of french bread and diced it up for meat balls. Shaved that loaf like butta

                      1. re: scubadoo97

                        I gotta admit that I used one of my laser sharp gyutos on some bread about a week ago, and it was amazing how easy it cut it. It made me wonder why I used a bread knife...but alas, old habits die hard.

                        1. re: smkit

                          Just look at you knife people, just look at how easily you get distracted from the original post. :)

                          Talking about super sharp knives now.