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cutting boards

I have perhaps a silly question:
I went shopping at Bed Bath & Beyond.
They have several cutting boards on display.
Some of them are beautiful, gorgeous-grained wood and pricey.
Do people actually cut on them and thereby cut up and damage the wood? Even if you oil them, they're still cut up. Do people cover these fine cutting boards with plastic sheets first? Since I'm a newbee I thought I'd ask before purchasing.

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  1. Yes, cut on the wood. Never soak it in water. Just wash it off after use and dry it. Oil it occasionally with wood oil (food grade mineral oil). I suggest you find one that is large and heavy enough that it will stay more or less in place when being used. I have one that is about 15x22x 1.5" and as been in daily use since the late 70s. As regards cuts and nicks, good technique should not be putting deep cuts in it, but every now and then it will get a deeper cut. Over time they don't really heal, but the board develops a sort of patina where most of the use occurs. I know bamboo and composite boards are everywhere right now, but they feel, to me, to be so hard they are bad for the knife. Anyway, try it and put it to work!

    2 Replies
    1. re: tim irvine

      Thanks for your response.
      Do you cut artisan bread on it also??

      1. re: sylvan

        Yep, if you can call what I bake artisan.

        ;0)

    2. We've used the same multi-piece, strips-glued-together, hardwood cutting board for about 20 years now. No, it doesn't look quiiiiiite like it did 2 decades ago (we don't either). To my eye that's called character & it's earned by honest good use. We cut directly on the surface (aside from fresh fish & shellfish which get their own plastic board).

      If the board you're considering is really pretty to look at you could always buy 2 & hang one on the wall, framed or not. Maybe in a shadowbox?

      Cheers!

      1. Let's answer your questions one by one

        <Do people actually cut on them and thereby cut up and damage the wood?>

        Yes, you should use a cutting board, and most people do use theirs. You don't really damage the wood as much as you think. Of course, it depends on your definition of damage.

        <Even if you oil them, they're still cut up.>

        Yes, you can oil them and it is a good recommendation, and yes, you will still use them and therefore cut on them. It is like a nice car. You should drive it.

        <Do people cover these fine cutting boards with plastic sheets first?>

        Most people don't. The only exception is that some people use one cutting board. They put a plastic sheet on top when they are cutting up meats, and then when they are cutting up vegetables, they take off the plastic sheet. This is different than your suggested intention.

        <Since I'm a newbee I thought I'd ask before purchasing.>

        One thing I like to point out is that more expensive does not mean better. In term of pure practical usage, a good end-grain cutting board from HomeGoods (~$40) is just as good as a designer cutting board (>$200) in many cases. This is not to say that any $40 cutting board is as good as a $300 cutting board. We are answering a very general question here afterall.

        A chowhound friend Tom34 was thinking about buying a designer cutting board. Instead he decided to buy an inexpensive wood cutting to first try out to see if he likes wood cutting boards at all. At the end, he was so happy with the $30 cutting board that he sees no reason to buy a designer cutting board.

        "I went through the same dilemma not that long ago. What type of wood, which grain, how thick & what size.

        While in a small restaurant supply house I came across a 12" x 18" x 1 3/4" thick "Rubber Wood" edge grain board that looks similar to maple for about $30.00.

        I bought it figuring $30.00 is a cheap experiment for seeing if it would be big enough for my tasks but small enough to maneuver in the sink to rinse off. If so, then I would contemplate a couple hundred for a custom board and give the Rubberwood Board to a friend.

        Its been close to a year, the size is perfect for bulk chopping but it still fits nicely into the sink for rinsing. The 1 3/4 thickness is more than beefy enough.

        Because it works great, looks great & has held up well I no longer have an itch for a custom board. Will spend the money on blades instead :-)

        These boards are on line at the Webrestaurantstore."

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9091...

        3 Replies
        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          Thanks so much for your time in answering me.
          I would never buy a "designer" cutting board.
          To me, the really beautiful one I'd like is hardwood and $30. That's the most I would invest in a cutting board.
          I lilke the idea of covering the board with plastic when cutting meat.
          Would you use a good cutting board to cut artisan bread?
          That can be cruel on wood.

          1. re: sylvan

            Sylvan,

            There's nothing I wouldn't, and haven't, cut on my board. Artisan breads aren't a problem. Knife cuts heal with repeated use and occasional oiling.

            If you think your board has gotten really ugly, with cuts that bother you, a light sanding will give it a quick facelift.

            1. re: sylvan

              Thanks. Everyone has a different definition of expensive and excessive. It sounds to me that $30-ish is your upper limit. As such, you would never even have to worry about custom or designer cutting boards. There are good cutting board in your price range.

              <I lilke the idea of covering the board with plastic when cutting meat. >

              Covering a wood board with a plastic cover is ok except that (1) the plastic sheet may slip around which is dangerous (2) might as well just get a pure plastic board.

              <Would you use a good cutting board to cut artisan bread?>

              It is ok. I think I know where you are coming. It isn't so much about the bread as for the bread knives. Many bread knives are serrated and act as saws which is quiet different than regular knives. However, you just need to be a bit careful and a bit gentle as your serrated knife cut toward the wood board. It isn't as bad as you may think.

              The only good reason I know people use a separate board for bread is that the regular cutting board may acquire strong flavor/smell over time, and they don't want the bread to touch that. That's all.

          2. This Ikea board is a fabulous buy -- not gorgeous, but good looking. I use it the other side down, so the lip goes against the counter edge and keeps it in place. I have two (8 years old and 4 years old) -- love them!
            http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/pro...

            3 Replies
            1. re: sweethooch

              It almost looks like a pastry board because of the lip/tap.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                I have that IKEA board, and that's exactly what it's sole purpose is - pastry and bread kneading. Then I don't have to worry about sugar cookies picking up off smells from the main cutting board!

              2. Wood is a preferred material to cut on over other types of boards. It is easier on the edges, just as easy to clean and the wood grain offers something more than a plain solid color surface.

                With wood boards there are two types, end grain and long grain. Long grain boards are the least costly and end grain costs more. End grain will last longer and there will be less resulting damage from the edges because the knife edge cuts across the wood fibers instead of on to the ends of those fibers.

                The cheaper boards are built overseas somewhere using glues that may or mat not be food safe, using oils that may or may not be inert and you have no idea of what conditions the factory is in which makes the boards you are going to cut your food on. The imported boards use bamboo, acacia, rubber tree wood and other cheaper and less durable woods. Acacia particurally is prone to voids which have to be filled and the trees are smaller which makes the grain pattern on end grain board almost look like a half-moon.

                There are good boards available across the USA which aren't designer brands which can be purchased frugally. But this is one place, like good cookware, where the cost is equal to the projected use.

                We bought one of those cheaper boards long ago and it only lasted a year or so which I why I started making my own. The first end grain board (12/94) is still around and looking good even for all the use it had.

                Do people use these boards? YES! I have customers who purchase several for different tasks and one who uses the underside so he can have a surface to show which will show no cut marks.

                2 Replies
                1. re: BoardSMITH

                  I bought an end grain 2" acacia board for about $30 6 years ago. With daily use it's aged to a deep walnut color and feels like velvet to the touch.

                  I recently installed a maple counter on my island for cutting, but couldn't part with that lovely acacia board. It's sitting propped against a wall, and still gets used occasionally.

                  1. re: BoardSMITH

                    Thanks for explaing the difference between long grain and end grain. I can see how end grain would hold up more because the cut is into the grain rather than across the grain.
                    I was looking at bamboo and wondered how it might dull my knives.
                    Acacia grows in my yard and amongst the thorns the blooms have the most wonderful fragrance.
                    When I make my purchase I will be sure that it is from sustainable wood.
                    Thanks again.

                  2. Buy it, use it, enjoy it...do not coat it in plastic like grandma's couch!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: BiscuitBoy

                      ha ha
                      actually if I did use plastic it would be the plastic sheets that you just set down...also, I wouldn't have to wash the wood but just rinse the plastic sheet

                    2. I once bought a wood cutting board from Bed, Bath and Beyond. I don't remember it very well, but it looked like an end grain walnut board. I used it a handful of times when I noticed that the look of walnut was fading fast where I was cutting. I felt that they had probably used a cheaper wood and stained it to look like something it wasn't. The stain was actually coming off with use. I stopped using it.

                      Eventually, I purchased the cheapest edge grain board I could find from Boos and tried it out for a while before purchasing a nicer end grain board (from The Boardsmith). The end grain board is definitely my favorite although the edge grain has worked ok too.

                      Neither board gets damaged with use. I do have some faint knife marks on both, but they don't bother me and practically disappear when I oil/wax the boards. My personal opinion is that kitchen equipment should be used without fear. If you're worried about destroying a beautiful piece from normal use, then you have purchased the wrong item for your tasks.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: sherrib

                        < If you're worried about destroying a beautiful piece from normal use, then you have purchased the wrong item for your tasks.>

                        A good way to think about it is that one should not simply buy what one can afford. Rather one should buy what one is comfortable to use without fear. Yes, maybe I can afford a $2000 cutting board, but I will be so scared to damage and will tip-toe around it. That is simply wrong. A cutting board, ultimately, is a tool. It should help me, not hinder me. Therefore, a person should not spend more than his/her comfort zone.

                        I will say that about other cookware, cars and furniture....etc.

                        1. re: sherrib

                          I agree that kitchen equipment should be used without fear, but I just wanted to confirm that cooks cut right on the boards without "protection"
                          I just wanted to be sure that I would be using it correctly rather than finding out later that I had done something wrong and damaged the board due to my ignorance.
                          Now, I'm smarter.

                        2. I too am the proud owner of a Boardsmith end grain board. The quality is top notch. Before my BS end grain, I used (and still do, sometimes) ordinary wood boards from any 'mart store. They are the wood strips, face grain boards that look like wood floors. They work just fine. But the joy comes from my BoardSmith board. Just like I cooked ok in my stainless steel and bare cast iron pots. But oh the joy of cooking in my Le Creuset enameled Dutch ovens. Sorta like an inexpensive car will get you where you want to go, but a Corvette, or Cadellac makes it more enjoyable.:o). But at the end of the day, it is what you want and what you need. I prefer my Ford fx4 to corvettes and cadellacs.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: dixiegal

                            Oh, and I forgot to say that Inalways cut directly on my wood boards. If Inwanted to cut on plastic. Inwould have plastic boards instead of wood. If the cut marks bother you, you can sand them periodically. The only thing Indo no longer cut on my end grain, is onions and garlic. My end grain board absorbs and holds those odors. So I use my face grain board for that. It does not hold the odor. But every thing else, meats,!veggies, and fruits get cut up on my Boardsmith board.

                          2. Endgrain boards are more absorbent so don't use them for onions or garlic unless you have another board for the rest of your produce.

                            I have both wood and plastic boards. I wash and keep the styrofoam trays on which the supermarkets wrap meat and produce. I'll use one to cut up raw meat, then toss it. They are gentle on knife blades and especially handy for anything where cutting cleanly, all the way through, is difficult, like rhubarb, celery, and certain cheeses and sausages.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: greygarious

                              Yea. The end grain board absorbing and holding odors caught me off guard. Took forever to get rid of the onion smell. I could smell that board the minute I stepped in the house. I have put that knowledge to good use. I now periodically wipe my end grain board down with a lime. I love that smell. And taste.

                              1. re: greygarious

                                thanks for pointing out the absorbancy of end grain

                                Most of the cutting I do is artisan bread and vegetalbes.
                                I have the butcher at the supermarket do all the cutting of meat....I've suggested that to other people but they say they're imbarrassed to ask them to cut their meat for them....

                                1. re: sylvan

                                  If I cut a lot of bread, I would have a dedicated board. The Ikea board would do just fine. I use only wood, Plastic and bamboo, which is plastic with bamboo filler, are hard on knives.

                              2. An end grain board will, with daily use, grow darker with time, and really won't look as if you've been cutting on it. It will in the beginning, showing many little cuts, but with time it gains a matte velvet feel and won't show knife marks at all.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: DuffyH

                                  I just wanted to be sure that cooks did cut directly on that beautiful wood before purchasing and cutting on it and finding out that wasn't the way to use it.
                                  Now I know that you do cut directly on the wood.
                                  The one I was looking at was $35 which is the limit I'd spend on a cutting board
                                  THanks so much for all your information on the varied topics and for the tips.

                                2. The one I use most, the Cut and Scoop, is pictured here:
                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9108...
                                  Thanks to "helping hounds", I was able to replace the one that broke due to my own fault. I will be more responsible with the brand new one!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: greygarious

                                    that's a really cool utensil but would be too small for me

                                  2. I use an affordable board of mixed hardwoods from Catskill. I wouldn't want an expensive board of something nicer which has been designed for appearance. To me, it is merely a tool. When it starts to look bad from use, I sand and re-oil it. It comes down to whether you think your kitchen needs to look Sunset Magazine ready.

                                    By the way, stains do more to bake a board loom bad than knife marks. Mine has some dark stains which don't come out with sanding. I don't worry about it, but this problem can be minimized with greater care than I use.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: GH1618

                                      My limit experience with Catskill cutting boards is that they are good enough for most home cook.

                                    2. IMHO the cutting board that looks the best is the one that shows it is used regularly!