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Nov 11, 2010 04:22 AM

I need to replace my bamboo chopping board - what kind shall I get?

Irritating that my expensive bamboo board has started to split at the end. I don't want a board that "lives" on my work surfaces as I bake a lot.

What can you recommend? And those of you with nice boards, are you really anal about drying them up as soon as you've washed them? I have a child and I cook a lot so I do a lot of dishes. I would like a board that can "cope" with being left to drain. I saw a large square one in ikea with a rubber edging presumably to stop it slipping/taking on water when draining. But I was worried that being cheap, something would go wrong with it anyway, so left it. Thoughts?

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  1. If you want low maintaince you probably don't want an end grain wood board, which is probably the best, but requires a certian amount of care. You probably don't want wood of any kind, as they will all have issues with moisture if not properly treated and cared for.

    For low maintaince, you would probably be best off with a high density polyethylene (HDPE) board. Cutting boards made from HDPE are inexpensive, disposable when they get too scratched up, sanitary or at least easy to sanitize until they get really cut up, and require no miantaince other than a good washing. There are some other options out there, but this seems like it would be most suitable for someone who doesn't have a lot of time to care for a cutting board.

    17 Replies
    1. re: mikie

      ah but that's the thing, I hate plastic boards... so happy to take better care of the next board if that's what it takes. Happy to spend a bit but don't want to ruin it this time!

      1. re: kookiegoddess

        An end grain wood board is by far IMO the best board for your knives, you tend to split wood fibers, kind of like what happens with a bristle dart board, the darts never leave a mark where they have been. The cutting board doesn't work that well, but it's the same principle. Bamboo is actually too hard and unless it's end grain is tough on the knives. Unfortunately, end grain wood boards are not cheap. Really nice boards can easily put you back over $100 or more.

        If you decide to go that route you will want to take the few moments to care for it as well. Wood boards of any style need to be oiled with mineral oil or a mixture of mineral oil and melted parafin. This keeps the boards from drying out and cracking and spliting. It also keeps the boards from staining. A new board should be oiled every day for the first week or so and then every week for the next month or so, and then about every couple of months, depending on how much use it sees. The key is to not let it dry out. Aside from the oil, you will need to keep your wooden board dry, you can't submerge it, you can't let it just air dry, you have to take some time to clean it and dry it before you put it away. Think of it as treating your cutting board the same as your good knives. You don't just use them and let them sit and you don't just throw them in the sink and let them soak, you wash them when finished and dry them imeadiately and put them back in a safe place. If you follow this same procedure with your cutting board it will last a very long time. End grain boards, although more expensive than face or edge grain boards, will last much longer because you aren't cutting wood fibers.

        I hope this gives you an idea of what's required to keep a wood cutting board in ship shape for a long time.

        1. re: mikie

          "Unfortunately, end grain wood boards are not cheap. Really nice boards can easily put you back over $100 or more."

          End grain boards don't have to be all that expensive. Walmart sells hardwood end grain boards for under $30.

          Of course, the wood or the glue may not be ideal, and the craftsmanship and looks will not be comparable to a custom made board costing a couple hundred dollars, but these do work well, are reasonably durable, and are significantly less hard on knives than a bamboo board. I'd rather have one of these than a bamboo or plastic board (glass or marble goes without saying, and I have never tried rubber boards).

          I agree with your other comments about end grain boards though.

          1. re: cowboyardee

            Yeah, I know Walmart sells everything cheap, that's why I said "really nice boards" above. I agree with your sumation on the wood and glue. The problem I have with a $30 board from Walmart is it's made in China out of who knows what kind of wood and what kind of glue. Some woods, hopefully not the ones used in cutting boards, can have oils in them that some people are sensitive to. I don't know if this would translate to cutting boards, but I don't really want to find out either. The best woods for an endgrian board are those with closed grian such as maple, cherry and even walnut isn't bad. You typically want to avoid woods such as ash, oaks, and other open grained woods either domestic or exotic. I somehow doubt the best woods are used in the boards made in China. The glue is even more of an issue for me, because I don't trust China to use the best products and those that are food safe, they have a reputation already in that regard. For a wooden cutting board the best glue is Franklin Titebond III which is FDA approved for food contact and very water resistant (it's also used in outdoor applications). I think I would rather sacrafice the knife on a plastic board than use a wooden board made in China.

            Most of my China views are socio-economic and political, however in this case it really is food safety. Is there such a thing as Chinaphobic?

            1. re: mikie

              your plastic board is probably made in China anyway.

              I really don't see a big problem of using a Chinese cutting board. It is not like you see Chinese dying left and right. For example, in Asia, the life expentency of Hong Kong residents and Tawianese residents are equal or higher than that of US and they use a lot of Chinese products.

              Finally, most of the cutting boards I saw in Walmart are made in Thailand or Vietnam.

              1. re: mikie

                All I can say is I've used one of these for years with no problems for myself, my knives, or anyone I've cooked for (many people - most recently a wedding party of over 160). I admit that they are not the equals of expensive custom made boards, but they are significantly better than bamboo and plastic boards I've used.

                I understand suspicion of inexpensive Chinese-made products, but have not come across any good reason to fear in this particular case. And while I've heard reports that woods or glues *might* irritate some individuals, I've heard no credible reports from any individuals who claim to have actually been irritated by a cutting board. Take that for what it's worth.

            2. re: mikie

              There are some sellers on ebay that use Titebond (food safe) glue. I was looking at a black walnut one.


              That one is a little small. Check out his other items. I'm thinking 12x18 (actually I'm thinking 16/18x24 but my fiance says our kitchen is too small for it. It is, but I don't care!

              1. re: deeznuts

                Some things to look for in a board off eBay.

                How large are the blocks used in the board? Some of the sellers are using scraps and other left overs from cabinet shops.

                Glue? Titebond II is water resistant not waterproof as claimed in the listing. Titebond III is waterproof and costs $10 to $15 more per gallon than Titebond II. You will never know what glue is used unless it melts and the board falls apart or the glue joints split.

                Thickness? A 1.5" board is rather thin. Thicker is better, helps to avoid warps and cracks and is more stable during use. Size does matter here, the larger the board the better with more work space and stability.

                Rubber feet? Simply screwing them to the bottom of a board takes no effort, certainly not worth an extra charge.

                1. re: BoardSMITH

                  That's a fairly inexpensive endgrain cutting board. I agree with BoardSMITH, you do have to know what you're getting when buying on e-bay and you really do want the Titebond III glue. The other will most likely work, but why take the chance. I don't want a board with rubber feet, it makes that side of the board useless, if you have a skidding issue, use a piece of that rubber shelf lining under the cutting board, it won't move at all and is much more secure than 4 rubber feet.

                  About board size: Although I agree to some extent that 1.5" is a bit thin, it's not bad and these boards start getting heavy very quickly if you need to move it on a regular basis. Good hardwoods are heavy, about 45 to 50 lbs/cu ft, that means that 18 x 24 inch cutting board is going to weigh in at close to 25 lbs. if it's 2 inches thick and about 18 lbs at an inch and a half thick. Point being, if it's a small kitchen like deeznuts posted, you're going to be moving around a big chunk of lumber with an 18 x 24 inch cutting board. My personal feeling is that if you need a board that big, you need a place to leave it, if you don't have the space, either get a smaller board or a lighter board (which may not be endgrain).

                  BTW deeznuts, the 12 x 18 inch board your fiance is ok with, is only going to weigh 10 lbs or less at 1.5 inches thick and about 12 lbs if it's 2 inches thick. You may want to consider another opinion.

                  1. re: BoardSMITH

                    Dave knows of what he speaks. I have one of his maple end grain boards and it is of heirloom quality. Buy it right and buy it once. Since he was too modest:


                    I have seen a lot of discussion and diverging views on who makes the best kitchen knife (Kramer, Nehoni, Burke, Thomas etc..) but everyone seems to agree that Boardsmith makes the best boards.

                    1. re: smarcus

                      Dave does make some nice looking boards. Some of those must weigh a bunch though.

                      1. re: mikie

                        mikie - A 2 x 12 x 18 maple board weighs about 12 pounds, 2 x 16 x 22 is about 20 pounds and a 2 x 18 x 24 is about 28 pounds. I say about because the final weight depends on the density of the wood. Some are a little lighter and some are a little heavier. They can get rather heavy especially in the larger sizes like 2 x 24 x 36 or boards that are 3" or more thick.

                        iyc_nyc - I do make boards less than 2" thick upon request. Those requests come from some folks with arthritis or other physical limitations which make lifting difficult. And some seniors prefer a lighter board because of their age. I settled on the 2" thickness mainly because I like how it looks and it gives a good yield from my raw stock with less waste.

                        Hope this helps.

                        1. re: BoardSMITH

                          Thanks Dave, these weights are fairly close to my theoretical calculated weights. I saw on your web site you had some very large boards. I've been making sawdust for a very long time, furnature mostly, so I know how heavy a 6 or 8 board foot piece of hardwood is.

                          For those that don't know, there are a number of reasons end grian cutting boards aren't cheap. As someone who has woorked with wood for many years, I can appreciate what goes into a quality board.

                    2. re: BoardSMITH

                      Dave, do you make end-grain boards closer to 2" -- say, in walnut? :-)

                      1. re: iyc_nyc

                        I believe that (2") is his standard stock. :)


                        He also make thinner and thicker when requested.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          Yikes, thanks. I'd checked out his site before and somehow thought he made thicker.. Shld've double-checked before posting!

                          1. re: iyc_nyc

                            I think that is because another person asked for something less than 2" and without feet. Dave came by and said he can accomdate these requests.

            3. I have to agree with Mikie. I think end grain wood cutting board is probably the best for your knives, but it requires some level of attentions. For example, leaving a pool of water on a wood cutting board wet is not a good idea.

              Another thing to think about are the rubber cuttiing boards, not the typical plastic cutting boards. Rubber cutting boards are very funtional and very popular in professional kitchen.


              They don't require seasoning/conditioning. They have self healing property against knife cuts -- just like end grain wood cutting board. They are dense. They can be resurfaced by sanding. They don't crack. They are not cheap, but not extremely expensive. You can get a one for less than $30. The end grain wood cutting board is still the best for knives, but a rubber cutting board is not bad. I do own one, so I am speaking from experience.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                I have one of the rubber ones too. It's not bad (I think Sani-Tuff brand). Smells gross at first, but that fades. Getting used to the drag on the knife is a little weird if you cut European style (sliding forward) rather than more Asian style (more up and down), but it's solid and durable. It's a little heavy, but that's also a benefit, since you don't usually need to put a wet towel under it to hold it in place. Have not had a need to sand it down yet.

                I also use a plastic kind with the grippy bottom sometimes.

                At some point, I'll probably get a good quality round wood one.

                1. re: will47

                  Same here. Sani-Tuf. There is a drag on the knives because the knives get to cut into the board. Good and bad. The heavy part is beneficial because the boards won't be sliding around a lot. I use a dish drying mat. It grab the cutting board well without the need for wetting:


              2. I have found I vastly prefer the feel of wood to other materials. I made a simple rack with a few strips of 1 by 2 placed in an H and screwed together, drilled and stuck in some 8" pieces of 3/8" dowel. It is great for draining and drying (works for cookie sheets and sheet pans, too...I even put bottles over the pegs to dry). It does not take up too much counter space when it is in use. I oil my boards every few weeks.

                4 Replies
                1. re: tim irvine

                  This sounds ideal for you, but probably is not what the OP is looking for. She doesn't say she is looking to make her own board and the maintenance required may not be what she wants.

                  1. re: taos

                    Could be wrong, but thought Tim was suggesting a drying board for the cutting board to help it dry faster?

                    1. re: iyc_nyc

                      Yep...just an 8" H of one by twos with six holes drilled, one in each corner and one at each end of the center piece..stick in dowels...viola! dry boards and pans and minimal counter space used. Of course it makes it look like I have 4th grader doing craft projects so I have created visual distractions in my kitchen, like way too many pans and bowls. I would never undertake to build my own cutting board (although my dad did and it was great).

                      1. re: tim irvine

                        OK sorry. I'm still not sure the OP was looking to make her own drying rack, but I could be wrong!

                2. I have a edge grain boos block that lives on my island. It sees baking duty and normal cutting duties. I keep it healthy with mineral oil and it has only seen the sink once. Generally it's cleaned with a vinegar and water wash applied with a squirt bottle ala condiment bottle. Poultry I do a double wash but normally a single wash is fine. The initial oiling was intense but now is around once a week. I've had my share of difficult to clean plastic boards and find this board much easier to clean. I purchased mine at a restaurant supply house and saved a lot of money.

                  1. I have a really nice epicurean brand cutting board I picked up from Bed, Bath & Beyond. I love it and it has a lot of great features. The only complaint I would have is that the adhesive from the huge label that was on it in the store never quite came all the way off, but it is on the underside of the board. Other than that, I love it!


                    5 Replies
                    1. re: MrsJTW

                      Epicurean cutting boards are good. I had one. It is made of out composite wood and it can go in dishwasher. Have you try to remove the adhesive using oil and a plastic scrapper (like an old credit card). Sometime it is easier to remove adhesive using oil and organic solvents.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        Yes, I love that it can go in the dishwasher. No, but I will try that to get it off. I have scrubbed it many times, but that was it. I thought about using goo gone on it, but was afraid it would taint the board with orange oil. Thanks!

                      2. re: MrsJTW

                        I like my Epicurean board a lot. I put 4 rubber feet on it (one on each corner) and that improved it dramatically for me. I also have a couple of plastic (those 3 for $10) boards, the thin ones, that I use over my Epicurean board when I cut meat (just an added level of sanitary protection, at least in my mind).....

                        1. re: jeanmarieok

                          That's a great idea! Mine does slip a lot and it's kind of a pain to me to keep a damp cloth under it. I have several other plastic ones in different sizes I use as well, but my epicurean is my favorite.

                        2. re: MrsJTW

                          Another vote for Epicurean. Mine has been going into the dishwasher 6 days a week for the past 2+ years and is still going strong. It does not get stained from beets and basil.

                          I'll be a repeat customer.