CUTTING BOARD QUESTION: Larch wood?
- erica Oct 14, 2011 04:04 AM
Can I get the expert consensus here on a cutting board made from this wood? They certainly are beautiful, and expensive.
And what about boards made from teak?
Also: I need a small two-sided board to use in conjunction with my large and thick main chopping area...something that is easy to pick up and wash, for use, for example, to chop garlic and do other small tasks without having to pick up and wash my heavy, main board. I would like it to be attractive.
Although they seem to be successfull with their larch boards, it wouldn't be on my list of woods for a cutting board. It reminds me a bit of long leaf southern yellow pine, although botanically they are not that closely related. Larch is a wood that is common to northern climates, very northern climates, so it's not that familiar to those of us in the lower 48. My best guess is the distinct grain is going to alternate hard and soft and not wear evenly. You can get beautiful cutting boards from hard maple and you can find maple with light and dark coloration, so you do get a pattern. Typically you want a closed grain wood, so no red oak or similar. Wallnut and cherry also make very attractive cutting boards and the use of heartwood and sapwood with these species will also make a nice contrasting pattern. In both cases the heart wood is dark and the sapwood light in color.
I would avoid boards made from teak! Teak picks up a lot of silica from the soil where it grows and this is then inbeded in the wood. As a wood worker, teak is horrible on cutting tools, so it's bound to be tough on your kitchen knives as well. It is also naturally very oily and difficult to glue properly. It's not a good choice for a cutting board. There are a number of other Tropical species that are not appropriate for cutting boards.
As a general rule, if you get food products from a tree, the wood is acceptable for food contact use. Examples include; maple - syrup, olive - olives, cherry - cherries, and wallnut - nuts. However woods such as pecan are typically too open grained.
Larch is more of a soft wood than a hard wood.
Teak contains silica which is hard on the knife edges and the oils in teak make it hard to properly glue without using two part glues.
As mikie stated, the general rule of thumb is to use wood from trees with either an edible sap (hard maple - maple syrup) or edible nuts. The only exception I would add is oak since it has a very open cell structure and would make cleaning and sanitation difficult. Also, stay away from spalted wood and some of the exotics. Spalted wood is caused by a bacteria which is toxic to humans and some of the exotics have oils and compounds that could be harmful to your health.
Pecan and hickory are acceptable, harder than maple with a very tight cell structure but maybe a little to hard for the edges of better high end Japanese knives.