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Is 2" really thick enough for an end-grain cutting board?

In the last year, I've had two Boos Maple 2"--2.25" thick edge-grain cutting boards split on me, despite caring for them properly. Yes, I gave them the initial coatings of mineral oil, applied oil at least once a month, and applied a beeswax/mineral oil coating monthly as well. I never left water sit on the board or put the board in water. I washed with a lightly soapy sponge, sponged off with fresh water, and dried the boards immediately. And I always stored them on end, not touching each other. Yet, they both split.

My other board is a Boos 4"x18"18" Maple End-Grain that has held up well, but it is too big for many tasks, so I want to get a smaller board. I am considering a 12"x18" from Dave (The BoardSmith) or Nils at Brooklyn Butcher Blocks. They both offer their boards at 2" thick as a standard. Of course they will make anything you might want, but 2" is their standard. As you might guess, given my experience with 2" boards splitting and my 4" holding tight, I am concerned that 2" might not be enough. I know that at least several of you have owned 2" thick end grain boards for some time. What has your experience been? How have they held up?

Thanks!

Jeremy

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  1. The problem might not be how thick your Boo's boards were,but how they were put together.
    My boardSmith 2" thick "carolina slab" is 2 years old and shows no signs of splitting warping or cracking..
    Edge grain boards might be more prone to splitting than end grain boards(just guessing,I'm no expert)

    1. Don't know much about cutting boards (except that I like good ones) but I know a lot about physics and geometry. From that perspective a THIN board should be less prone to splitting than a THICK one.

      1. Maybe Boos' boards aren't all they're cracked up to be.

        1 Reply
        1. re: GH1618

          Ha! Nice.

          Well, I've had a fairly poor success rate with Boos--33% so far. The boards that split both started to separate along a glued seam, so maybe the problem was a manufacturing issue.

        2. Splitting is avoided by aging (drying) wood before jointing so the moisture content stabilizes. The problem is that the manufacturer chooses one humidity level at which to dry the boards. If your average humidity is significantly greater or less than that at which the board was manufactured, that will put stress on the board.

          1 Reply
          1. re: GH1618

            I live in Boston, so under your theory would I be better off buying a board made in Brooklyn, NY than one made in NC (or Michigan for that matter)?

          2. I on't think the difference between Illinois (Boos) and the Northeast as a place of manufacture would be as important as the manufacturing process and the care.

            When you oil a board, do you oil both sides?

            7 Replies
            1. re: GH1618

              Initially, I oiled the whole board, but, since I only used one side, I generally only oiled the used side.

              1. re: jljohn

                Boos advises oiling all sides. I wonder if oiling one side preferentially would cause more moisture to be absorbed from the other side in conditions of high humidity. Such an asymmetry would cause internal stress which could split the board.

                1. re: GH1618

                  I have never oiled my Boos board on both sides and rarely do it at all. Still fine after at least 10 years.

                  1. re: GH1618

                    You could be right (you are right about Boos' recommendation), but the only side that ever needed oiling was the used side, because the oil on the non-used side was never worn off or washed off. Basically, the unused side never dried out--it didn't have an oily feeling, but it wasn't dry either. Keep in mind that I only owned the first board for 2-3 months and the second board for 9 months!

                    1. re: jljohn

                      Agreed, it wasn't the oiling. I'd say the stress that caused the crack was in the board when it was manufactured, which would be a defect, I think. Was the crack within the wood rather being a glued joint which opened up?

                      1. re: GH1618

                        The cracks were both along a glue-line. It was as if the glued joint was just separating.

                        1. re: jljohn

                          Oh, that's different then! There are two things which can contribute to this problem:

                          1. Wood must be dried adequately before being milled to its final dimensions, because it will warp as it dries. If the board is glued up with insufficiently dried pieces in it, they will produce stress on the joints as they continue to dry.

                          2. The quality of the glue and the glue-up procedure must be such as to resist small stresses which might be present under normal conditions.